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. Lots to discuss, so let's get to it. Fire away!
Jim (Barrington, IL)
Thank you for taking my question last week since Adam ignores me. What's your take on the Illini hire of Beckman and what else needs to be done to return the Illini to football relevance?
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
That Adam guy is a prima donna. I like the hire. I think Tim Beckman is a good coach who runs an exciting offense. He may not have a big name, but I don't think Illinois was going to get a big name. An exciting style of play is needed at what is really a basketball school. Beckman will have to make recruiting in-roads in St. Louis and Chicago and ultimately win to make the Illini relevant again
Denard Robinson (Ann Arbor)
Hey Brian, nice talking to you again. We're feeling really confident about our game against VA Tech in the Sugar Bowl. If we show the nation what we can do and win convincingly, what are the chances that we're looking at a top-10 or top-5 matchup come next September at Cowboys Stadium?
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
Most preseason rankings are based on how a team finishes and who they bring back. Though Michigan loses some key players like Molk, Martin, Van Bergen, etc, having Denard back and coming off an 11-2 season with a BCS win should be good enough for a Top 10 preseason ranking. And I'd expect 'Bama to be top 5
How does Montee Ball lose the Doak Walker to Richardson? I understand him not winning the Heisman (or even recieving all that many votes), but I do not understand under what criteria Richardson should be considered a better running back this year. I'm also sick of hearing that Barry Sanders put up his stats in 11 games. He also had a lot more touches.
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
I'm with you, Jon. Richardson is an excellent player, no question. But Ball had the superior season in just about every way. Pro-SEC/anti-Big Ten bias is the only way to explain it.
Joe (Kansas City)
Brian, I'm really concerned. There have been rumors in the past that Kirk Ferentz could be headed to coach the Chiefs. And I'm sure that rumor could fire up again since Todd Haley got the ax this morning. To add to my paranoia, Ferentz was in KC just last week. Could he have been talking with the Chiefs? Also, as a big Hawkeye fan I'm saddened to see Norm Parker retire, but hopefully we can get Mike Stoops. Any chance at that or will he be headed to Nebraska or OSU? I can speculate that Norm is retiring now knowing that Ferentz will be heading out and his job would have likely been on the line anyway. I love the Chiefs and Ferentz would do great for the team, but I love the Hawkeyes more and don't want Ferentz to leave!
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
Yeah, those Ferentz-Chiefs rumors should be heating up, since he and Pioli are tight. Adam is writing about it this afternoon. Ultimately, I expect Ferentz to stay in Iowa City, where he makes a great salary and has stability. But nothing would surprise me.
mcs (state college)
Hey Brian...With the recent release of the writers FWAA All Americans, I'm just cuious to see if you feel the writers are much more in tune so to speak as to what is going on nationally regarding following all american players than coaches, etc.. Adam had a shot in their that indicates he does ("more credibility"). Curious to hear your thoughts.
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
For sure, coaches know a lot more about football than Adam and I ever do. But writers watch a lot more teams. Coaches only focus on themselves and their opponents and rarely see teams outside their regions. Plus, they're biased (or at least have the appearance of bias) in voting for players in their own leagues. So in that regard, I put more stock in the FWAA teams/awards, and in the AP poll over the coaches poll for the same reasons
How do you feel about OSU getting to use two staffs at the same time? Is that a good sign the NCAA isn't too angry with the Buckeyes?
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
There are two separate entities involved in those decisions, as I doubt there is much overlap from the infractions committee on a decision like that. However, if Emmert or somebody was really focused on hammering the Buckeyes, maybe they wouldn't have gotten the waiver. I think it's fairly common (Illinois will likely have the same situation), though it is a bit of an advantage.
Brian, first congrats on winning more contests then Adam this year. Now that stories are coming out saying that McQuery may not have even seen Sandusky in the showers, do you believe that the PSU Board of Trustees as well as many in the media jumped the gun in crucifying Joe Paterno? Maybe everyone should have let the facts actually come out before trying to ruin his reputation?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
Thanks, Steve. I still believe firing Paterno was the right and only move. Whatever the facts of McQueary's story, this abuse still occurred under Paterno's watch and not enough was done to stop it. Whether Paterno is legally or even morally culpable is an entirely separate question. The image of Penn State was stained greatly and there had to be changes at the top.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Brian, I know MSU fans are still up in arms about the BCS thing, but I feel like in their situation, that even if they qualified for the BCS and a team like Michigan/Nebraska/OSU/Penn State/Wisconsin had a similar record, won't the bowls take one of those 5 teams ahead of MSU? In terms of national recognition, MSU isn't on the radar as they haven't been to the Rose Bowl in 25 years and even though they have had two good years lately, they still didn't impress last year in the bowl game. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
You're right in that the BCS bowls will almost always take the teams they think will sell the most tickets, hotel rooms, etc. Those other schools you mention are often a little more attractive than MSU, but it could depend on how the teams finished the season, who was at that game most recently, the matchup, etc. The one thing we know is that fairness isn't really involved.
Billy Bob (Southeast of nowhere)
Brian, what are the latest on the tOSU sanctions? I believe word was to come down the beginning/middle of December?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
OSU AD Gene Smith told me he expected a ruling in about two weeks, and that was two weeks ago today. So we're on the lookout for it happening any day now. But the NCAA is unpredictable and works on its own timetable.
Ted (Charlottesville, VA)
As a Purdue alum, if you asked me before the season started would I consider a 6-6 record and a bowl game a success, I woula have said yes. But now that I look at it, I, and many other Purdue fans, still look at this season as a failure. Is this due to us being so inconsistent throughout the year? We lose to Rice and manage to go .500 in the B1G. We were competitive at Penn St. but got blown out at Wisconsin and Michigan. I just don't see this season as a huge improvement over the last 2 years. What is your take on this issue?
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
I'd say it's a slight improvement. There were some good moments, like the OSU win. But the Boilers were maddeningly inconsistent. Getting back to a bowl game was a big step, but Purdue needs to show much more improvement in '12.
You didn't answer Steve's question, Adam... oh, I mean Brian. YOU and the ESPN PRIMA DONNAS crucified Paterno before the whole story was out. But stay up on that soap box, Brian, you are a tool just like Adam.
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
I never crucified him. Horrible things happened under Paterno's watch, and he had at least some knowledge of what was going on and didn't do enough to stop it. And the man in charge always takes the fall in these situations. End of story.
Zac (Ann Arbor MI)
Michigan will win the National Championship in 2012. What say you?
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
I say I admire your optimism but don't share your sentiment.
Brian it was a mostly forgettable year for my beloved Gophers, with a couple bright spots towards the end. What do the Gophers have to improve for next fall? And is it conceivable that Minnesota could surprise some people and win 3 or 4 Big Ten games next year?
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
They'll need MarQueis Gray to continue improving and to be more consistent. They'll need to develop much more of a pass rush and improve the secondary. The young players must mature quickly. The good news is the non-con schedule is quite manageable and could help the Gophers build some confidence going into Big Ten play.
Eric (New York City)
Hi Brian!I read your post about potential Big Ten Heisman candidates next year. No love for Penn State's Silas Redd? I think he has a lot of potential and proved it this year!
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
Put him in my honorable mention category. Redd had a nice year, but he only had seven touchdowns, and Penn State's offense is not exactly a juggernaut. Given that we don't even know who the coach will be, Redd is a major longshot at this point
Jim Delaney (Denial-ville )
Do you think the Big10's bowl performance over the last couple years has a large influence on my position on a +1 model or a playoff? I think i might be afraid that if we had a playoff against SEC squads my conference would have an even smaller chance of reaching the NTG, much less winning it.
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
I don't think that has anything to do with it. Delany wants to preserve the Rose Bowl tie-in and is anti-playoff. His league is already raking in the cash and doesn't need a lot of changes to the system. The Big Ten has not been afraid to take on tough competition in bowls, even if it has been detrimental to the league's bowl record and image at times.
Lou (Rockville, MD)
Brian, I think you and Adam did a good job of covering the Sandusky story as it was happening, as you were somehow able to not editorialize the situation unlike 99% of your colleagues. That said, the "under his watch" explanation is honestly pretty lame. The problem is so much was written and commented on with only part of the story, which is what a grand jury presentment is. And yet so many writers who have accountability to no one were preaching about accountability, which is just shoddy work. The court of public opinion is a dangerous place and yet the writers have created it and enabled it and due process completely goes out the window. Just some food for thought.
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
I appreciate the thoughtful comment, Lou, and wholeheartedly agree that we need to wait to pass judgment in complicated cases like these. Which is why we exercised caution. Our Twitter age means not everyone does. Bottom line, again: Horrible, horrible things happened when Paterno was in charge of the program, and no other coach in America would have kept his job under similar circumstances. The CEO always takes the fall.
THe B1G isn't televised in my region very often. Can you tell me who the best Centers are from the conference that will most likely be entering the NFL draft next season?
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
Sure. Center is a very strong position for the league. Michigan's David Molk, Wisconsin's Peter Konz and Ohio State's Mike Brewster should all be high draft picks. (Konz has one more year of eligibility remaining).
David Leffler (Hawkeye Nation)
In light of Norm retiring, I have a two part question. 1) Will the next d-coordinator similar to Norm, with basic schemes and very sound discipline, or will they hire a more aggressive d-coordinator who dials up blitz packages more often? 2) Is there any real chance of the Hawks picking up Stoops?
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
I have a hard time seeing Stoops coming to Nebraska, or Iowa being able to afford him. Just venturing a guess, I'd say my hunch is Iowa promotes from within and keeps a similar scheme. It worked pretty well most of the time under Parker.
Hey, Brian - Should Nebraska hire Mike Stoops or not? What are the pros and cons? Thanks.
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
If he wants the gig, I don't see why not. He and Pelini are close, after all. The only downsides would be teaching the players a new system. And that might be the most intense sideline ever in college football.
Eric (North Dakota)
I heard (from a very reliable source) the big 10 is looking to pull Army, Navy AirForce and Boise State into the conference. What say you?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
You need better sources
With the recent release of Denard Robinson's Staph infection to his throwing arm at mid season, do you think that that may have contributed to a lot of his below average passing stats the he carried throughout most of the season? I hear Staph infections are quite painful.
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
I think it could explain why his passing and production took a major dip in the middle of the year. Certainly puts that in a new light.
4dorr (Big Ten Hangout (BTH))
Are you and Adam going to join our "big ten blog" bowl pick'em group? We have a lot of members wanting a shot at beating you guys!
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
I think I finished fourth in the regular-season pick 'em. Send me the info, and I'm in.
Hey Brian, I had a question about the national championship location. It seems like every conference has a chance to host the national championship in a area that their conference resides in expect the B10. I know that this is in-part due to the weather here in the Midwest, but now that Indy has a nice dome and Detroit hosted the final four a couple years ago, is there any possibility that Indy or Detroit would get a chance to host the national championship game?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
I don't see that happening. The BCS title game is tied into the bowls, and while college football leaders would be smart to shop their postseason around to the highest bidders, for some reason they remain joined at the hip to a bowl system that doesn't make them as much money as they could make. I don't expect that to change anytime soon
Have you heard anything about Peter Konz entering the draft? It seemed to be commonly thought he would leave before the injury. Personally (and completely selfishly), I'm hoping the dislocated ankle drops him down the draft projections and encourages him to stay for his senior season.
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Haven't heard a lot about his decision, but his stock is really high after a great season. If his ankle is healed and he can go through the combine and workouts, he'd have to seriously consider going to the NFL
Why do you think Penn State is taking so long to hire a new coach? I think it's really killing them on the recruiting trail. Michigan, Ohio, and Notre Dame all seem to have pretty hungry looks in their eyes and all have started to recruit or re-recruit some Penn State commits.
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
It's a difficult situation for Penn State, which absolutely has to hire the right guy to steer the program through this mess. While the search seems to lack a real strong direction right now, the school is better off taking its time and getting it right. Losing some recruits this year means nothing in the bigger picture here.
Who are you 2012 projected division and conference winner?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
Whew. Michael, didn't you see how bad my 2011 predictions were? I think I like Ohio State in the Leaders; the Buckeyes bring a lot back and should get better under Meyer, while Wisconsin loses Wilson and likely Ball. Michigan will likely be the Legends favorite, but Nebraska and MSU should be right there, along with possibly Iowa.
Any guesses as to the first B1G player taken in the NFL draft?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
I'd guess one of the DT's, likely either Still or Worthy, if he comes out.
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
It's a huge line for the Insight Bowl, but it's understandable given that Iowa was 7-5 and Oklahoma was No. 1 for a long time. The big question: how motivated will the Sooners be after a highly disappointing season?
Some of us crazies are following the movements of PSU's private jets, in the hopes of finding coaching search clues. Both planes have been in DC all day today. Any thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
Yes. Next Penn State head coach: Barack Obama
Zac (Columbus )
Thanks for taking the time to blog even though the regular season is over, takes the edge off my CFB withdraws. But anyway, how do you think the Big10 will do in the bowls this year? Can we hope to at-least break even at 5-5? Or is it going to be another SEC sponsored beat-down on our conference? And finally, what one premiere big10 bowl game do you feel the most confident about?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
I really like Michigan to beat Virginia Tech. Good matchup for the Wolverines against a team that doesn't score much. I'd look for a better showing for the league as a whole than last year, but there are still some tough, tough matchups (NW vs. A&M, Nebraska vs. USC, Iowa vs. Oklahoma, to name a few).
Mike (Newport News)
With Urban Meyer at Ohio and Brady Hoke doing well at Michigan in his first year, is the rivalry going to be like "The 10 Year War" again?
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
I'm really excited for the future of this rivalry. Should be a whole lot of fun and wildly intense, the way it should be. I could see both teams starting out in the Top 15 next year.
How long before Pelini's seat heats up? We seem to underwhelm every year. I knew the nation was overhyping us this season, but if we pull a mere 9 wins the next two seasons with Pelini staying overly faithful to the coaches below him (instead of hiring splash hires), is he out of there?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
So that would be five straight years of 9-plus wins, and you'd want to fire him? Somewhere, Frank Solich nods. I agree that Pelini needs to get the program to the next level, but firing a guy with that kind of record would be hard to do.
I dont get the uofm hype. They played 8 home games and miss playing Wisc and PSU. They are going to be in for a reality shock next year. Hoke is going to end up being Wiess was at ND. Take a team to the BCS b/c he fell into a better situation than expected, and then fall falt on his face... Watch
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
And Dan has fired his shot toward Ann Arbor
Adam rittenburg (Ca)
Please let me have a 5 game head start in the Bowl Pick-em!!!
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
Never! Hey, I only have a one-game lead for the season. If only Sparty had held on ...
Any insights or thoughts on Tom Herman as OC for Ohio State? Any word on DC? Thanks.
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
I admit I don't know a ton about him. Iowa State has had decent but not overwhelming stats under his tenure, but he also hasn't been blessed with top-shelf talent. If Meyer sees something in him, I'm inclined to trust him.
I like the optimism you have for UofM next year, but the schedule get's much tougher and we have issues on both lines. Offensively we lose 2 starters and they'll have 1 non freshman scholarship back up next year. Defensively we lose 3 starters on the DL, including their two best defensive players with no proven replacements.
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
I'm just saying they will be ranked highly to start the season, not necessarily that the Wolverines will deliver on that.
Mark Dantonio (East Lansing)
Will I be keeping my D Coordinator or is Pat headed towards a HC job?
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
I think Narduzzi is very deserving, and I would hope he gets a better shot than his reported interest at Akron. Toledo, maybe? But someone still needs to give him that shot (same goes for Paul Chryst at Wisconsin). I'd say it's most likely Narduzzi goes somewhere.
Brian, I've heard a lot of prospects, especially five-star prospects, have reconsidered their commitments when they heard Urban Meyer was OSU's next coach. Have you any thoughts on this?
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
My thoughts would be, why wouldn't they? He's got two national titles. The recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State are going to be epic.
Will Luke fickell be staying on or do you see him taking a HC job somehere else?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
I expect him to stay on board as an associate head coach, co-DC. Fickell has shown no real inclination to leave Columbus.
Ms. L (Nebraska)
The B1G is the deepest conference in the nation. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
I'd agree with that. Hard to argue against 10 bowl teams. The league just needs to get a little stronger at the top.
OSU fans had better hope that Braxton Miller is as good as Tebow, because Tebow was the reason Meyer won 2 national titles (even the first one).
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
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Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
OK, folks. That's all the time I have for this week. Thanks for all the great wishes, and have a great rest of your week