Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Big Ten 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 Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (3:00 PM)
Hello and welcome to another Big Ten chat. Notre Dame questions are welcome here today as well. Let's get this thing started. Fire away!
Cheesehead Sports Nut (@CheeseheadSN)
If the Badgers did not have Russell Wilson as their starting quarterback I think they would still be in the preseason Top 25 but probably just barely, where would you rank the Badgers if they didn't have Wilson?
Brian Bennett (3:01 PM)
Yeah, they'd probably be in the 20ish range for me. Especially with Budmayr's elbow problems. I wouldn't be nearly as bullish about a team with a freshman QB, and the Badgers wouldn't be as much of a B1G favorite, for sure
Barry (Lewisburg, PA)
Brian,I know that Ohio State still boasts the most talent across the board. But don't you think the players will play less motivated down the stretch knowing they aren't going to play for the Big Ten championship this season? Also as much attention as Nebraska is getting about their defense, I think it's Iowa, Wisconsin, and Penn State everyone should be worried about. These teams are all capable of plaing in a BCS Bowl this year.
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
Who says the Buckeyes aren't playing for a Big Ten championship? They're still eligible, and I expect them to be in the Leaders Division race all season.
Brian, would you have drafted TP in the supplemental draft, why or why not? If so, then where would you play him?
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
I'd have taken a chance on him, sure, but not in the third round as Oakland did. I'd give him a shot at QB first and then convert him to receiver if it didn't work out. No doubt he's an unbelievable athlete.
BB I have been reading a lot about the QB race at ND I know they are evaluating rees and crist on stats but isn't it unfair as the team was much better (running and defense) under rees. What would crist's stats have been like with those elements?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
You make a good point about Rees having a little easier go of it because of the defense and running game. But Notre Dame's coaches aren't evaluating the two on their stats. They're looking at what they see in practice every day and who gives them a better chance to win. Kelly is supposed to announce the starter tomorrow.
I still laugh at TP going to Oakland.. have you stopped laughing yet?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
I got a nice little chuckle out of it. Sometimes things just fit so perfectly it's hard to believe.
With Purdue saying that they will play Marve if he is healthy, as well as other schools saying the same about their Miami transfers, do you think there will be any problems with the NCAA?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
Well, schools hopefully will be smart like Purdue and check with the NCAA to make sure they're in the clear. If they get the green light, they really can't be held culpable for playing an ineligible player.
Tony (Castle Rock, CO)
I asked Adam, but got no response. What would your thoughts be for a college football preseason? We could be talking about football now. New coaches get to see some of their new systems in place, with no risk of a loss. Every team can get freshman and underclassmen valuable game experience. How would that affect scheduling or College Football in general?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
Even though I'd love to see more football, I can't get behind this idea. Can you imagine if Denard Robinson or Taylor Martinez, just as examples, got hurt in a preseason game? The risk is not worth it. Besides, a lot of teams are already playing virtual exhibition-type warmup games in Week 1.
Brian, Penn State has to choose Bolden if the 2 are considered "even" after camp. Less of a headache to deal with, and Bolden won't transfer. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
Particularly since there's no experienced depth at all behind the main two guys, a Bolden transfer would be tough. I get the feeling Penn State would love for Bolden to win the competition since he has more upside. I agree with you that a "tie" goes in his favor.
Brian,What do you think Michigan's chances are against ND this year? THe last 2 years the Irish were supposed to have the better team and Michigan fielded the worst 2 defenses in team history and still beat ND. I think the hype over ND's last 4 wins is "fool's gold". I look for Nd not only to lose to UM, but probably MSU the following week. What do you think?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
I expect it to be a very close game, just as it has been the previous two years. Notre Dame has a slight advantage in that it will be the first real test of the Brady Hoke era, but that atmosphere at night should be amazing. Those two games are without question crucial to the entire Irish season.
Ed (Davenport, IA)
BB---I may be a bit "homerish" with my Hawkeyes, but I just don't see the big fall off with our "D" Line like so many talking heads are so adamant to point out. Five returning seniors, three juniors, and a freak of a redshirt freshman (Davis), seems to be a pretty good recipe for a dominant "D" Line. They also bemoan the fact that our secondary will be much less with the loss of Sash and Greenwood, but again, I don't see a problem. Prater is still here, Hyde most likely will take Sashs' place, Bernstien, Miller and Stienbrecher are in the hunt for the other safety spot with Castillo having the inside lead for the other CB spot. The experience level for the "D" LIne and the secondary is what mekes me believe that IOWA will once again have a top 10 defense.
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
I'll say this: Iowa usually finds a way to have an excellent defense and stout front under Ferentz. That said, it's never easy to replace three veterans who were drafted off the same D-line. So, yeah, there should be a little dropoff, but the defense should still be good.
Thoughts on the Illini this year... what are their strengths and might they surprise and rise to the top third of the B1G?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
First of all, love the schedule. I think the offense has a chance to be really good with Scheelhaase, a good O-line led by Jeff Allen and some emerging players at RB and WR. To me it all comes down to how good the defense is. I can see this team making some noise and being in the Leaders race if it can pull off an upset or two
FCS school that has the best chance to beat a B1G school is...
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
I'm looking at Week One only, and I'll say it's Tennessee Tech. Not because Iowa is bad but because Tennessee Tech returns a ton of experience.
Which ooc game could do the most for, or do the most to hurt the conference's perception? I think PSU beating Bama would be huge, but what's worse, the Lions losing to the Tide or, say, OSU losing to Miami.
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
Penn State losing to Alabama isn't so bad unless the Lions get absolutely hammered at home. Ohio State losing to a Miami team embroiled in scandal would be worse.
Brian, as a Notre Dame fan, I'll be the first to admit that Charlie was quite arrogant as ND's head coach. That being said, I've had several of my friends claim that Brady Hoke's attitude of "We're Michigan" hasn't been arrogant. Maybe it's just me, but they were also "Michigan" during Rich Rod's time as HC. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
It's pretty bold talk. But I like it. He needs to instill that kind of attitude into his players, even if it rubs some the wrong way. The one thing about this is, if you talk like that, you'd better back it up, or it will be thrown in your face quickly. See Weis's "decided schematic advantage" comment and how that was used against him the rest of his tenure.
What is the latest information on who will start at QB for the Buckeyes this year?
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
I talked to Jim Bollman on Saturday, and he said they'd probably pick a starter by the end of this week. By almost all accounts it's Bauserman vs. Miller. I'd be surprised if Bauserman doesn't get the nod for the opener with Miller playing the second half. The experience vs. inexperience thing is just too great to ignore.
Eric O. (Indiana)
The buzz around IU seems to be that Kevin Wilson may finally be the coach that ends the decades upon decades of IUFB mediocrity. Are you in this camp, or still skeptical, and why?
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
Guess it depends on your definition of mediocrity. I really like the Wilson hire and think he'll do good things in Bloomington. By good things I mean get the Hoosiers back to going to bowl games. A serious Big Ten title contender? I have a hard time seeing that.
Brain your chat sucks;get a life ok.Find a fast food joint to flip burgers you jerk!!!Can't stand you man......
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
And yet you took the time to come here and write to me. What does that say about you, KL?
steve m (KS)
what is ND's future look like to u for the next 3-5 years
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
Very bright. Kelly is recruiting well, especially in the all-important areas in the trenches. The Irish should be a solid Top 20 team annually with the chance to do more.
Matt (the cape)
Do you think that a "tie" in the Ohio State QB race goes to Miller? He has more up side just as Bolden does.
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
No. Different set of circumstances. For one, Miller is a true freshman, whereas Bolden got a half-year of experience starting last year. He's not going to transfer if he doesn't start right away. Two, Bauserman is a fifth-year senior who knows the system well, and Ohio State can totally live with a QB who just doesn't mess up. I think Penn State needs a more dynamic playmaker to spice up that offense
if TP was drafted 3rd in the supp draft, how many ppl were actually drafted before him?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
Doesn't work that way. You have to give up a corresponding pick in next year's draft to take a player in the supplemental draft. So Pryor went in the third round and was the only player taken.
Boston College will be without their talented duo of RBs (Harris, Williams) next week when Northwestern comes to town. Is this a huge break for a NU defense that was awful against the run last season or a non-factor?
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
It definitely helps, and BC was pretty bad on offense last year anyway, especially in the passing game. The Eagles win on defense. Should be an interesting contrast in styles to open the season.
Are you and/or Adam making the trip to Madison for UW/Nebraska? It's going to be a sea of red .. and ESPN GameDay, right??
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
We haven't planned that far ahead, but I'm sure at least one of us will be there. Should be huge, provided neither team stumbles before then.
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
People would say, 'Bo didn't do that and Woody didn't do that. Well, you know what? Those guys have been gone for a long time, and the game has changed. --Illinois coach Ron Zookyeah, I remember all the articles about how Zook and Rodriquez were going to bring the "SEC & WVU style and speed" to their respective schools and dominate the slow prodding Big 10. Perhaps someone needs to Mr Zook that his "change" is 28-45. The problems with the Big 10 isn't talent or style. The reputation has been built on bowl records and until the Big 10 starts posting favorable numbers in December and January the reputation will continue.
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
Fair points. Didn't really see a question in there, but carry on.
Eric (New York, NY)
How come nobody is talking about the potential play action threat Russell Wilson brings to the table? With defenses respecting the run game, it seems inevitable that Paul Chryst will dial up a heavy dosage of play action pass. The roll-out would be deadly with a pass or run option. Nick Toon or Pederson across the middle? It should be scary. Defenses can pick their poison: Load the box to stop Ball and White, or sit back in pass protection and get pounded.
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
Oh, I think people have talked about it. The one thing people may not realize is how little Wilson had to work with offensively at NC State. He was the show, and his offensive line wasn't great. Can't wait to see what he can do with this supporting cast.
The Buckeyes vacated last year's wins, including the Miami game. Now it is likely Miami will vacate their wins. Has it ever happened before where the same game has been twice vacated?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
Don't know off the top of my head, but why did we even watch that game last year? It's like it didn't exist
Rick (Pittsburgh, PA)
You say Miami is embroiled in scandal ... and don't make mention of the Ohio State University being embroiled in scandal? Come on ... what can we call that game? The battle for the most points and least NCAA punishment?The battle of the rogue programs?The losing team should get the death penalty? (but so should the winners) ...where is your journalistic integrity?
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
That wasn't the point of the question, Rick. The point was which loss would hurt Big Ten perception more. Having the team's flagship program from the last decade, current scandal or no, lose to an ACC team mired in mediocrity and its own NCAA problems would not be good for perception.
Tenn. Tech upsets Iowa?? Forget the Outback Bowl prediction, put us out of our misery now!
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
Didn't say that would happen and don't think it will. But if you're asking me to pick the FCS team with the best chance, that's my pick.
hello sir! a scouting report please vs. USF. how do you predict the game vs. ND to play out?
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
USF is a solid team with a good defense and offensive line, standout special teams and a dual-threat QB. Now, the receivers and passing game have been lacking, the running backs haven't been very explosive and B.J. Daniels is prone to turnovers. The Bulls have made early-season upsets their specialty, and I think they keep it close for three quarters. But I also think they don't have enough offensive weapons to pull off the upset.
chris (bloomington, IN)
Pat Forde brought up some good points early about the increasing population of the sun belt making the Big ten less competitive. Really, we're talking about Texas and Florida. Does the B1G have any plans to deal with this? It was an item mentioned when they announced expansion.
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
Delany is well aware of the issue, but what can you really do? Short of adding Texas, the league has few options except to make its product as attractive as possible and hope that's enough to get recruits to want to play there.
Brian, what do you say is better: games ending in a tie or games ending in taking turns from the opponent's 25 yard line?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
I'd take anything besides a tie.
How much do you hate the Cy-Hawk Trophy?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
As much as I dislike Precious Moments Figurines. Seeing as how the two are the same.
Zach Zaerr (Cincinnasty, Ohio)
Very few are tooting the Buckeye's horn, but provided the QB can limit turnovers I see no reason the Bucks don't win 10+ games. SI predicted 7-5 record, where do you see the Buckeyes this year?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Saw the 7-5 prediction, can't agree with that. This is still a really talented team, and it can beat anyone on the schedule. I think 9-3 sounds about right but wouldn't be surprised with 10-2 or better.
David (State College)
Brian, Do you think JoPa is being a little selfish by choosing to keep coaching and not letting PSU move on?? If I was being recruited by PSU I would certainly take into account the fact that the Head Coach position might not be as stable due to JoPa's age. I know he has done a lot for PSU but at what point is enough enough.
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
JoePa has earned the right to call it quits when he wants. Besides, it's not like Penn State has been terrible. Last year was disappointing but was still a winning season.
Darrell (Tehachapi, CA)
The Big Ten did Nebraska no favors with their schedule. I find it hard to believe that Nebraska can go through the Big Ten undefeated this year. Minnesota is the only team that can be considered easy. The rest are tough. What are your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
I agree and I don't see any Big Ten team getting through the year without at least one loss. Nebraska will be walking into a zoo in Madison, and the Badgers have to got to Ohio State.
I know expectations are low for my Gophers this year. I am hoping for 5-6 wins to call the change a success. What do you think our chances are to get at least 5 wins and how long before we get back to our rich history of National Championships year in and year out?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
I think five wins is achievable. I expect Minnesota to upset one Big Ten team this year. Three nonconference wins should be a given, with a likely loss at USC. It just takes one more from there. I like Jerry Kill and think he'll do good things there. But the division is loaded and Minnesota has some disadvantages from a recruiting standpoint
post your question or commentUSF has a good OL? They only have one returning starter! Explain that one?
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
They have two starters back (Warren and Hine) plus a guy in Popek who has been a starter before. And they played a lot of guys last year, so there's decent depth. They're also very high on a redshirt freshman tackle. Don't challenge me on Big East info unless you have your facts correct! (Just kidding)
Do you think if Nebraska runs the table in the Big10, does that make the Big 12 look like a tougher conference?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
That's fair to say. And it will lead to some criticism of the Big Ten. Would that be an accurate description? Teams are different every year, after all. But that will be the perception, for sure
Martinez (Royal Oak, Mi)
Who is your pick as the sleeper in the Big Ten this year? I have picked Northwestern the past couple years but I do not think they are sleeper status anymore.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
I look at sleeper as a team that could get to Indy if everything breaks right. I'd pick Iowa and Penn State as sleepers by that definition. Also think Illinois could have a good record with its schedule. And have a hunch about Purdue if the Boilers stay healthy.
Matt, Marion, IA [via mobile]
How are you thinking sparty is looking this year in the big ten?
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
Love the offensive skill position players, think the defense will be really solid. My questions are on the offensive line and that schedule, which is just brutal. Michigan State escaped in a couple games last year, and I'm not sure it can get those breaks this season. Still a very good team, just don't see the Spartans matching last year's record.
Tom (Largo, FL)
While reading up on the Nebraska personnel, I noticed one of their main CBs is named Alfonso Dennard. Michigan State also has a starting CB named Darqueze Dennard. Any relation?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
They're both from Georgia, too. I haven't seen anything that says they're related, but perhaps they are cousins or something. Will have to check on that one
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
If the B1G was able to get both Texas and Notre Dame, but in exchange had to let them have their own networks (but they couldn't share in Big 10 Network money), would they agree to that?
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
That would go against the current philosophy, which is that everybody shares equally in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Michigan could probably make a lot of dough from their own networks but see the value in a greater good. So, no.
David (Omaha, Ne)
I keep seeing articles where B1G Ten officials say they arent planning future expansion. Am I the only one who see's the proof that they are? Its in the logo folks. Maybe its because im a magazine publisher, but hasnt anyone else figured out that the logo was designed to morph from B1G to B16?
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
I've heard people say that before, and I see why. The Big Ten denies it. But it's not much of a stretch, is it? I think the Big Ten isn't actively pursuing expansion but will be ready if the situation dictates.
When the Big 10 adds an extra conference game, do you see Big 10 schools dropping Notre Dame from their schedule?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
No. There's still some prestige in playing the Irish, and Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue want to keep their rivalries with the Domers going
With the change in head coaches, are the Buckeyes running different offensive or defensive schemes this year?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
Not at all. In fact, I wrote that very thing today. Check it out on the blog
Waffles (Waffleton, Wa)
Seriously, I don't see it. You are clearly a blond male. Perhaps light brown in some of the videos.
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
Finally, some rational comments
Matt (Washington DC)
Brian,I noticed that you have ND going to the Champs Sports Bowl, while others have the Irish fulfilling the high expectations of a BCS game. What factors made you decide that the Irish would fall short of those lofty expectations? Schedule? Poor QB play?
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
I think a BCS game is possible, but that schedule just offers very few letups. I could easily see the Irish three games from the group that includes Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, USC, Pitt and USF.
Who is one player on the Badgers that could potentially make a significant impact this year that isn't currently at the forefront of any conversations?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
You might want to ask Adam that on Wednesday since he was in Madison last week. But the Badgers seem to be high on defensive end Louis Nzegwu
Tom (South Bend)
Who will win more Big 10 games this season: Notre Dame, Indiana, or Minnesota?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
ND and Minnesota tie at 2. Indiana wins 1
Chances of Illinois winning 8 this year?
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Decent. The schedule is so home loaded. The Illini need to get off to a great start. The Arizona State game will be huge for them.
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
Looks like my time is up for today, folks. Thanks for all the great question. See you next Monday, when it will be game week. Huzzah!
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