Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Good afternoon, everybody and welcome to another Big East/Notre Dame chatfest
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
I'll be here for the next hour taking your questions, so fire away.
Brian - Convince me that NOVA is a better financial choice for expansion than either UCF or Houston. Please don't tell me the Philly market - remember Temple? And anyway I thought it was not the "TV market" but, the "TV asset" is the most important factor. Of the said three schools Houston would be my number one choice and Nova third.
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
I won't try to convince you of that because I don't believe it. Villanova is mostly attractive because it means the league doesn't have to take in an 18th school. I think UCF is the best choice. I'm not a fan of Houston, but that's mostly because I covered some dreadful games (with awful crowds) at Robertson Stadium back in my C-USA days
Brian (Morgantown, WV)
With Geno being out recovering from foot surgery, do any of the QB recruits being brought in by the Coach Holgorson have a chance to win the job? Geno played very well last year but he has a tendancy to hold the ball to long and be high with passes. I hope he recovers and keeps getting better but with a new system and new coaches there must be a chance someone takes the job.
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
Heck no. I'm a big Geno Smith fan and think he will be the best quarterback in the Big East in 2011. I thought he was in 2010, too.
I think that the Big East (and the ACC), unfortunately, always tend to draw the short stick when looking at college football from a national perspective. Much of the criticism is well deserved. I believe the Chris Low argued that the one thing that separates the SEC from other conferences is money. In your opinion, is there anyone in the Big East that has the resources, the desire, and most important, the willingness to spend what it takes to truly compete for national championships? In my opinion, the only team in the ACC that might is FSU. How about the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
That's a deep question. If you look at the budgets, nobody in the Big East comes close to the SEC powers in terms of money. West Virginia seems to have the dedication, but it's hard to compete against those resources. It's no coincidence the SEC has won five straight BCS titles
Matt Rob (Pittsburgh, PA)
Brian;Now that the wash that was the 2010 season is over, what will be the most exciting nonconference matchups of the 2011 season? And will this be another year where nearly every single nonconference game is an away game, or are some of them home games for the Big East team?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
There are some good games, and some good home games for Big East teams. West Virginia hosts LSU. Pitt gets Utah and ND at home. USF gets Miami in Tampa. NC State comes to Cincinnati
Dave (Brooklyn, NY)
Brian,How much did Rob Long's absence affect Marrone/Hackett's aggressive playcalling in the Pinstripe Bowl? They seemed to go all out with the flea flicker, 4th down conversion attempts, and lots of vertical strikes. More importantly, will we be seeing more of this in 2011 or was it just a side effect of all the preparation time?
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
I'm sure it had some effect, but I think the bigger factor was K-State's lousy defense. The Wildcats had one of the worst statistical defenses coming in, and Syracuse took advantage. I'm not sure you can read much into 2011 based on that game
Pete (Tupelo, Ms)
BB whats your take on ND taking so far 7 DL's in this recruiting class with the chance of Tuitt changing back like Lynch. I think BK is cooking something big for the years to come or atleast he better with the schedule for 2012 and 2013 coming.
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
I like it, and it's maybe the most encouraging sign yet for the Kelly era. Defensive line has long been a sore spot in South Bend. My only concern is whether some of these guys can grow into nose tackles for that 3-4 (or if Louis Nix can become that guy). But things look good.
If you had to put a percentage on the likelihood of a 10th BIG EAST member for 2012, what would it be....this waiting is killing us down here in Orlando. Love the blog.
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
The league has said it wants to go to 10, so I think it will happen in the next few months. Hoping to talk to the commish tomorrow, though he doesn't like tipping his hand on this issue at all.
Many questions remain about Butch Jones the coach. That said the man can recruit. How impressive is the Cincinnati recruiting class considering how disappointing last season was?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
Jones has done a nice job on the recruiting trail. That's the flip side of a losing season -- you can get out recruiting more quickly, and you can sell immediate playing time.
Ray Stinger Jr (Pittsburgh)
Is there anyone left from Pitt's recruiting class?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
Are you volunteering, Ray? Looks like Todd Graham may bring over some kids he recruited for Tulsa. Some see that as unethical, but this is kind of a desperate situation. One recruiting class is not going to make or break his coaching era either way
You mention some of the games this upcoming season, Just wanted to let ya know that USF opens the season at Notre Dame since u left that off your list.Where do u see USF next year? I see the conference coming down to USF, WVU and Syracuse, you agree?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
Well, he asked me about home games. There are good road games, too -- Cincy at Tennessee, Syracuse at USC, etc. Anyway, I put USF No. 1 in my way-too-early preseason power ratings earlier this month. I had West Virginia second and Syracuse third. It's early, though, and the league still looks wide open.
Joe (New Brunswick, NJ)
Brian, Avid follower, first time poster. With majority of the attention around Louisville's recruiting class on the rise and Pitt's collapse, you haven't mentioned Rutgers. They have quietly put together a solid group, filling both needs and acquiring talent from throughout the state. How do you feel about their recruiting efforts and their impact next season?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
Welcome aboard, Joe. Well, I think Rutgers has recruited pretty well the last couple of years, according to those who rank those sorts of things. It hasn't paid off too well on the field yet. But I like the hires of Cignetti and Hafley and think they will really help in recruiting NJ/Penn
WHY WAS NOTRE DAME INVITED TO THE BIG EAST, WHAT DOES IT BRING BESIDES ITS NAME AND WHY DIDNT AT THAT TIME ND WASNT FORCED TO JOIN IN FOOTBALL
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Easy on the caps lock there, friend. Notre Dame was invited to join because it's a prestigious name in college sports and fits in perfectly with the other Catholic basketball schools in the BE. The Irish have helped greatly in terms of improving bowl tie-ins. The Big East can't force Notre Dame to join in football any more than I can force Rachel Bilson to stop screening my calls.
Who put together the better offensive staff, WVU or pitt?
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
That's an interesting question. Holgorsen has the best chops, but I like the hire of Magee and Todd Dodge at Pitt. I think both teams will be very explosive. It's going to come down to who has the best players
Would love to see the Big East make a Bold Statement and grab Kansas, KSU, and Mizzou. Any creative thinkers up there at the Big East headquarters?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
I think the Big East would be very interested in such a thing, but those schools have to have a reason to leave the Big 12. The Big East doesn't have the cash to throw at them. Plus, those three get the chance to occasionally pop in as guest stars on Texas's TV network. How fun
Do you think UConn made a bad hire in Pasc as head coach. I know its not Maui but I'm sure there were several coaches that would have been better? Mcgee instance, when he was at WVU everyone loved him.
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
I wasn't sold when I first heard about it, but the more I learned the better fit I think it could be. He's clearly got close ties in the state, and his six years in the NFL could prove helpful. UConn is not an easy job, and they didn't have a ton of people lining up to come to Storrs.
Rachel screens your calls? Dude, stop calling 5 times a day and you might have a chance.
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Thanks for the tip.
Hey Brain, what do you think about the future of your almater of Louisville football? Strong seems like a great HC for your guys after year 1.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
I think you have some seriously bad information if you think Louisville is my alma mater or "my guys." But I think the future is bright given the way Strong has recruited. The Cardinals are about two years away from being a league power once again
Brian, next year could Notre Dame make a run at the BCS? Thanks
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
Absolutely. The schedule is manageable, a whole lot of starters come back and it is Year Two under Brian Kelly. I definitely think a 10-2 type year is within reach if they catch a couple of breaks and stay healthy
Will (Washington, DC)
The Big East had no 3,000 yard passers last year (which helps explain the embarassing OOC performances). How many do you think the conference has next year?
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
Offense was down throughout the league. The good news is most of the QBs are back, and the offenses at Pitt and WVU should be improved. I think Smith, Sunseri (if he wins the job again) and Collaros could all make a run at 3,000 in 2011.
Brian, do you hate Louisville or something? Why do you act so disgraced when people think you're a cardinal fan? Let me guess you went to UK?
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
I don't care, but it's simply bad information that I have tried to correct over and over again.
How would you grade Skip Holtz's first year?
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
I'd have to say a solid B, maybe even a B-plus. You have to remember all the defensive talent the team lost, plus the potential for conflict after the Jim Leavitt controversy. To get 8-5 out of that and beat Miami was very solid. Once they get a few more offensive playmakers, the Bulls could be very tough.
John (Allentown PA)
ND has four interesting games to start 2011 -USF with Coach Holtz,Michigan first night game at new big house, MSU at home and at Pitt - what say ye? I say IF 4-0 it is BCS or bust
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
If the Irish win all four of those games, they hype machine will be in full force. They could even be on the edge of the Top 10. Thing is, on paper you'd have to favor them in each of those contests, wouldn't you?
Phil (Charleston, WV)
You mentioned brain drain as a reason for the down year this year in the big east. Do you see the a trend against that with the new hires in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
There was some of that, as well as youth at quarterback. I like the hires throughout the league, and if those coaches stay for a little while, I think the Big East could be in for big things the next couple of years. The QBs will be older and more advanced as well. I could see 2012 being a great, great year with TCU coming on board.
I assume you have heard of the TX commits QB Paul Millard and RB Dustin Garrison to WVU who both have a combined of about total 8000 yards and 100 TDS. Do you think WVU got two of the biggest steals of the recruiting class?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Ask me again in three years. I mean, seriously, how can anyone possibly know at this point?
Carl (Parkersburg WV)
Why does everyone put some much into stars as far as recruiting. Wouldnt you agree that there have been alot of 4 and 5 star athletes not do jack. While 2 or 3 star players have done great things.
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
Agree totally and have written as much countless time. People tend to lose their minds a bit this time of year when it comes to recruiting.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
How do you see Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson developing next season? Was Anderson a flash in the pan his freshman season, or will he blossom under Coach Strong next year like Bilal Powell did this year?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I like Wright to be the main back and think he'll do well, though the offensive line needs to be rebuilt. Anderson has had trouble staying healthy, but he's a really talented guy and I have to believe they'll find a way to use him. He's not big, so he needs to get out in space to be most effective
BB you saying u think Notre Dame is or will be better than any and all BE teams next season? You mentioned above USF fisnishing in 1st and yet you have Notre Dame as a favorite? So reason is that Notre Dame would be the best team in the BE next year? I have to disagree. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:41 PM)
I do think Notre Dame would be favored to win the Big East and will be ranked higher than all other Big East teams to start the year, based on who the Irish have coming back and how they finished '10. They still have to prove it on the field, of course.
Well the "ideal" announcing times for a 10th member seemed to have come and gone...are we safe to assume that a future 10th member is tied to the Villanova decision coming in April. Have a guess on who the 10th member will be? if at all?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
I'm not sure what the ideal time you're referring to was. No team would be on board before 2012, so it really doesn't matter when it happens this offseason. The Big East will likely wait a little longer on Villanova, but I believe the league will know that school's intentions before April and be ready to move in a different direction if need be. I still say it's going to be UCF, but I've been wrong before. Once or twice.
Scott (Buckhannon, WV)
What is all this sudden hype over Notre Dame? Kelley is a good coach, but is it realistic to think they'd pull an Auburn and go to the BCS title game in Kelley's 2nd year?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
Nobody -- repeat, nobody -- is saying BCS title game. But the team finished incredibly strong, has a ton of starters back and has a manageable schedule. If the Irish can go 10-2, they're a BCS lock.
Evan (Rochester, NY)
What's your opinion on the Syracuse O-Line for next year? They only lose Ryan Bartholomew to graduation.
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
It has a chance to be pretty good again. I really like the way Justin Pugh developed at left tackle. Doug Marrone is a former O-lineman, so you know that unit will be well coached.
Looking at the talent on Pitts defense, do you see any major problems switching over to a 3-4 defense? The main question seems to be linebackers, but Im not as worried as others because the DE that are still on the roster are tweeners and can stand up at OLB while still maintaining D-Line depth. I actually think Pitt may be even better suited for a 3-4 with the current players. Any thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
I think you're on the nose. Wannstedt's defensive linemen were undersized anyway, so it's not a stretch for, say, Brandon Lindsey to suddenly play standing up. My concern would be the lack of a real run-plugger up the middle at nose tackle, which is important in a 3-4.
Hey BB, do you think WVU has the receiving corp to run Holgrosen offence?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
We'll see. I think Ivan McCartney could be a big key. He seems to have the size and speed. Starks needs a big year as well. I don't see any Justin Blackmons on the roster, but there is a lot of skill with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey included.
Will losing Stephen Tuitt to GT hurt? Or will Ishaq and Lynch be suitable for the future of the Notre Dame d-line?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
One player can't hurt that much, and the Irish are pretty loaded at his position. I doubt Notre Dame fans give Tuitt much thought at all once signing day passes.
Mike (Highland Park, NJ)
Brian any thoughts on the 2010 recruits who redshirted this past season and who might be a potential breakout player next season?
I don't get why everybody assumes a ten team Big East is better/stronger/more lucrative than the 9 team version (current plus TCU) ........ UCF will take far more money out of the pockets of the other schools than they could ever give to the conference. I understood go to 10 when the Big 10 was about to start picking off schools. Why not wait, UCF isn't going anywhere, if the Big 10 comes calling then call on UCF. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
I think nine is fine. But the league said it wants to get to 10, so I think that's what it will do. Adding another market can only help when it comes to negotiating TV contracts.
With Dayne Crist out spring practice with a knee, is there anyone at the ND camp that can rival him for the starting job in the fall? Rees was solid as a starter but has no where near the talent as Crist or some of the other redshirt freshmen.
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
Rees might not have the physical tools, but he won every start. He's a really bright kid who understands the game. Don't underestimate him.
Do you think rutgers will have another disapointing unorganized season again or do think things are going to spark and have a good year. Cause our 2010 team had a lot of talent to go 4-8, the coaching decisions were questionable. And i know we had a bad o-line. What do u think about next years Rutgers team?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
I did a video post earlier today about Rutgers and Cincinnati and their chances to rebound. As I said, I really think Rutgers will be back in bowl contention, and I'd be surprised if they were worse than 6-6. I don't think there's an ultra-high ceiling with the Scarlet Knights, but I expect them to play much better in '11
Hey Brian whats your thoughts on B.J. Daniels stats for next year can he be a 3,000 yard passer
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
No, I don't think so, just because he's not that great of a passer and he doesn't have a lot of top-flight receivers. He can still be dangerous while using his legs, too, and the USF defense should be really solid again, along with an improved running game.
Pete (West Chester)
Chas Dodd is now the starting quarterback for Rutgers and there is absolutely no depth behind him... Yikes! Am I wrong?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
You are not wrong.
Shawn (Manchester, CT)
Who doo you see stepping up at QB for Uconn this year? Also who do u see as Uconn's starting Running Back?
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
I would imagine Box wins that job. He seems farther along than the other candidates. Frey will be the early leader at RB, but he needs to show he's more than just a straight-ahead runner
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
OK, folks. That's all my time for this week. Thanks for the great questions, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon.