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 football chat! Recruiting madness is gripping us all, and there are plenty of other things to talk about. So fire away with your best questions.
Hey Brian hope the engagements going well, I've been reading through quite a few articles about the Buckeyes and their recruiting. With the loss in scholarships how does that affect the number of players who can sign with the Bucks? Currently there are 24 including Reeves, but speculation is that Lewis won't be signing bringing the total to 23? Isn't 25 the max so technically wouldn't they need to be at 22? I trust Urban to know how recruiting works, but any help would be great.
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
Thanks, Justin. Spent all weekend doing wedding planning. Hooray. Or something. Anyway, the scholarship reductions don't affect how many recruits Ohio State can sign, but the Buckeyes have to adjust their roster to account for the reduced amount of scholarships. There will be some defections and turnover that is natural in any coaching transitions. Some guys will be politely asked to leave. In the end, the math will work out.
Brian, Last summer Hoke and Co. we getting every recruit, then they went 11-2 and won the sugar bowl. Now they can't give away their five remaining scholarships, what gives?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
While I'm not too worried about the Wolverines' recruiting, it is interesting how most of Michigan's class came together before the season, when recruits were hoping Hoke would be good. Things have slowed since the 11-2 season. You'd think it would be the other way around. Urban Meyer may have a little to do with that as well.
Daily request for any new information on the DC spot at Iowa. Thanks
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
You and me both, Joe. I'm sure Kirk Ferentz will have a DC announced by Labor Day
Does having a top 10 Recruiting ranking really matter?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
No. I don't understand fans' obsession with class rankings, since there are no trophies in recruiting. It only matters how you develop your talent. Of course, being in the top 10 means you're bringing in great athletes, and every coach would like to start with that as a base.
say something good about Michigan ... anything!
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
OK. The Wolverines went 11-2, won the Sugar Bowl and might be ranked in the Top 10 next year. And Brady Hoke just won a national coach of the year award.
Where does Bret Bielema rank among coached in the B1G and around the country? We just extended him agian, does he have the goods to take UW to the promised land?
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
The guy is coming off back-to-back Rose Bowl bids and has won a ton of games at Wisconsin. Most places would be very happy to have him. I'm interested to see how he handles this staff transition next year but he has to be considered one of the best young coaches in the country.
Addison (East Lansing)
How far can MSU's defense carry them this year? Do you think our offense will eventually catch up like it did last season?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
With nine returning starters and some excellent depth, Michigan State's defense has a chance to be truly special in 2012. That defense may have to carry the load early, especially against Boise in the opener. The O-line should be better, but there will be a breaking-in period for Maxwell and the new receivers. I think the Spartans have to be considered no worse than co-favorites for the Legends title
I understand the ability to come in and play right away, but tell me how an terrible program like ucla can steal away a top 50 recruit from a program like Nebraska. Fuller and Odigazuwa from a couple years ago. Odig has turned out to be in my opinon a total bust, a top 25 national recruit goes to ucla instead neb and i want to know how they got him.
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
Who knows why any 18-year-old decides anything? But if I'm a QB recruit, I see Taylor Martinez and the very real possibility of sitting on the bench for two years. That had to be a major factor.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
I doubt if the Gophers recruits will rate in the top half of the conference but considering the success at protecting the top recruits in the state would seem to bode well for better times ahead. Agree?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
Getting Isaac Hayes (love that name) and Nelson to stay home was big for Jerry Kill. Keeping the top prospects in state is a major priority for the Gophers. Kill had a tough recruiting pitch after the past couple of seasons in terms of W-L record, but it looks like he's going to end up with a solid class that can help.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Say something DECENT about Indiana... lol
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
Sure. The Super Bowl is in Indiana! Oh, you meant the Hoosiers. Well, they got a nice recruiting prize last week by landing a highly-rated QB.
frank (Los angeles)
Thank God for the stature and frank appraisal of Phil Knight as it relates to his euology for Joe Pa. That was stand up and correct and he said it from the heart unlike the vultures from the Board of Trustee's who at best were chicken and weak and gave the PSU institution the wrong insight of their credentials. You do notcondemm Joe Pa and the institution by the acts of one person and that is what the Board of Trustee's did in the case of Joe Pa and thank God for the Faculty Senate who finally found the courage to challenge the board.comment
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
While I certainly don't think the trustees acquitted themselves all that well, no one did at Penn State during the scandal. Phil Knight told the crowd exactly what they wanted to hear, and he can say whatever he wants because he's Phil Knight. I happen to disagree with some of his points, but we've been over this territory many times.
I know Nebraska's defense is going to be suspect coming into next year. do you think the offense can be consistent enough to make a run to the B1G Championship game. I know they can make big plays, but I believe the Huskers need more long, sustained drives to beat the top teams in the conference.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
That's a good question, and it's odd to think a Bo Pelini team will be led by its offense. But that's probably the case in 2012. The key, as you said, is better consistency. Nebraska needs to develop its other young RBs to alleviate some of the burden off Burkhead and for its receivers to improve. Martinez has to improve his accuracy as well. But this offense has the potential to be the most potent one in the Big Ten.
Pat (Athens, Pa.)
Anyone who watched the quarterback play at Penn State over the past two years knows that McGloin and Bolden are not the answer. Who has a better chance of being the starting QB at PSU next fall, an incoming freshman like Steven Bench or Skyler Mornhinweg or Paul Jones if he can get his grades up?
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
Well, Mornhinweg may not even end up in State College, and while Paul Jones is intriguing, until he can actually get on the field I can't consider him the savior. McGloin didn't look great, but that offense didn't help any. I think McGloin is still the starter to open the year as others are groomed behind him. The best hope is that O'Brien's offense is much more modern and well-oiled than what we've seen from Penn State in recent times.
Given how Urban's last 2-3 classes at Florida fared, I wouldn't put too much stock into the rankings. Brian, do you find it interesting that Hoke has been loading up on offensive linemen with this class, and almost in response Meyer has been loading up on defensive lineman?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
I never put a ton of stock into the rankings, but it does seem as if Meyer is getting a lot of players other B1G schools wanted or had commits from. So that's telling. I don't think either school is recruiting based on the other. Michigan has a need at OL going forward, while Ohio State wants to load up on defense because it has young players on offense.
Roy Hayes (Burbank CA)
I'm looking at Iowa's first 5 games next year(Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan, Minnesota) and it looks like a very good possibility that even in a somewhat of a rebuilding year a 5-0 start is very possible. The second half of the schedule gets a bit tougher but there is no excuse for Kirk Ferentz this year. Another 7-5 season with this schedule is inexcusable. Will there be some rumblings( i.e regards to "hot seat status) if this happens?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
Fan dissatisfaction in Iowa was rising last season, so a third straight disappointing year would be tough for many to handle. On the other hand, the Hawkeyes lose some of their best players off an underachieving defense, not to mention their stud OT, leading rusher and all-time receiving leader. So to expect a division title from Iowa this year is probably unrealistic. Hawkeyes might be two years away.
Hello Brian, With national signing approaching, I was wondering if a recruit can change schools after signing their letter of intent?
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
They have to get released from their letter of intent by the school, or else they have to sit out a year and lose a season of eligibility upon transferring. I'm still surprised more top-notch players don't refuse to sign an LOI
Is delaney still stuck in the past? a 4 team playoff would increase the b10 chances. Who cares about an automatic when you're playing for the real trophy in the NCG.
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
Delany doesn't care about automatic bids as much as he wants to protect the Rose Bowl. That's basically his entire mission, and after going to Pasadena the last two years, I can understand why.
Jonesing for some wins (Champaign, IL)
After suffering through the Ron Turner era that followed the 2001 Sugar Bowl blowout and the Zook era highlighted by a season ending with another bowl blowout in Pasadena and mediocrity in seasons since perhaps the Illini fans have become a bit jaded as to what a successful Illinois program looks like. As a life long Ohio State fan and a U of I grad I feel that many Illinois fans don't understand what it means to have sustained success in the B1G. OSU and Urban Meyers clearly have their measuring stick in not winning a national Championship but more on how many. What do you think would be considered a good measuring stick for the new Illinois coaching staff?
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
Illinois is not going to be a consistent national title contender. But there's no reason for the Illini not to be an annual bowl team and jump up with the occasional 10 or 11-win season. The history of Illinois football is filled with far too many ups and downs.
WIth the recent committment of Madaris, how good is the incoming receiver class for Mich St? Not to mention the transfer of Arnett. I think this group will be very good for several years.
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
Michigan State clearly had a need at receiver and has picked up some potentially good ones in this class. You never know until they get to campus, but the Spartans have given themselves plenty of options. Getting Arnett eligible this year would be huge, but it's far from guaranteed to happen.
Mike (River Falls, WI)
I have been following the badgers recruiting very closely this year. They have lost one 4 star O line recruit and appear to be losing another in Dodson soon. This looks bad, but I was wondering how this years class compares to other years from a 4 star standpoint? Does WI ever land many 4 star recruits?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Wisconsin has had some big-time recruits in recent years, especially on the O-line. But the Badgers have done a great job of developing talent, rendering a lot of the rankings meaningless. This is a small class because the team doesn't have a lot of holes on the roster. But it looked like it was going to be a strong one early before falling apart. And after two straight Rose Bowls, you would think Wisconsin could attract and retain high-caliber prospects. That's the disappointing part.
Pats or Giants?
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
Giants. Defense is too good.
Logan (Cedar Falls, IA)
Last Tuesday, myself, along with 2 friends, traveled 14 hours from Iowa to State College to pay our respects to Joe Paterno. I have never been to Happy Valley before, but it is a beautiful place and I encourage any B1G fans to make the trip sometime. I just wanted to thank the Penn State fans, as we were greeted and treated with respect while wearing our Hawkeyes gear around campus. We talked to nearly 20 Penn State fans and each one was thankful and delighted to have us there.
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
Thanks for sharing that story, Logan.
As a follow up, if there is a downside to signing a letter of intent, need to be released or lose a year if you change your mind, is there an upside?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
Yes. Programs often won't hold spots for prospects because they're afraid of coming up empty-handed. But for the truly elite guys, they have no need to sign, because every team would make room for them.
I heard a coach once say star rankings are useless. The key is to get what ranking services called 3 star recruits and make them 5 star athletes by the time they leave. No coach wants a team of 5 star prima donnas.
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
And don't forget that the rankings are completely subjective and that the level of competition varies wildly. Saw it all the time in the Big East, with one- and two-star recruits turning into NFL starters. But I guess it gives us something to do this time of year.
Why won't the Big Ten oversign like the SEC? They already steal recruits from other schools and other unethical stuff anyway.
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
The problem with oversigning is you're being dishonest with either the kids you sign or the ones on your current roster or both, and I'm glad the Big Ten prohibits it. I don't believe in "stealing" recruits; until a prospect signs, he's fair game. Verbal commitments mean nothing.
Are there any truly "freak" athletes in the B1G this year? (e.g Justin Blackmon, Trent Richardson)...you know, guys who can single-handedly change the complexion of a game.
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
Denard Robinson still qualifies as a freak in my mind. Will Gholston can be that kind of guy on defense if he continues to develop his game. They spring immediately to mind.
Just wondering, do you also follow Big Ten basketball, or are you a Big East guy?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
Love college basketball, and I'll watch anybody play anybody.
What are your thoughts on the Husker recruiting class, especially if we land most of our targets on signing day?
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
It's a smaller class, and the Huskers have done good work shoring up a needed area at linebacker. Not a ton of star power, but I think we've discussed today how that isn't always that meaningful. Nebraska needs some real difference-makers on defense.
Tony (Columbus, OH)
How long before Urban has Ohio State playing for not just B1G championships but national ones?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
I really believe the Buckeyes can be a national contender as soon as 2013.
How old are you anyway? Adam keeps making fun of your age but you guys look about the same age.
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
Old enough to fully remember the end of the 70s. You do the math. But I look young.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
Schiano a better NFL coaching prospect than Ferentz???
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
I covered Greg Schiano and have great respect for him, but I was surprised by Tampa Bay's choice. I'm not sure he'll translate well to the NFL and think Ferentz would make a better NFL coach.
I'm still upset over the Pujols deal! But have no fear, our pitching will still get us through it!
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
I'm over Pujols. Sign Roy Oswalt, and I'll really like this year's club. Central Division champs, at least
A case of the Mondays (Grand Rapids, MI)
I've heard people toss Purdue around as a possible dark horse in the Leaders division, but it's always followed with jokes. Does Purdue have a realistic shot of getting the Leaders bid to the CCG what with OSU out of the picture? Their schedule is pretty favorable...
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
Favorable schedule plus a lot of starters returning. It's still quite a leap to get past Wisconsin, but with Illinois and Penn State in transition, I think Purdue is a legit sleeper. The Boilers just need to play with more discipline and consistency and establish a real identity.
BuckeyeNation (The Shoe)
Brian, with Urban Renewal in full swing who is the best recruit he has so far? Is this based on position need or future potential? Do you see him landing any more big fish on or before NSD?
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
I'm only going on reports from our recruiting guys, because I don't watch high school games. But every indication is that Noah Spence is the real deal and a major talent. Brionte Dunn is also intriguing on the offensive side, though the RB spot is stacked. I've got a feeling Meyer has at least one more up his sleeve before Wednesday is over. He's gotten pretty much everybody he's wanted so far, it seems.
Dave (Aurora, NE)
Brain...any early plans regarding Spring Games? Would love to see your analysis on Husker Spring Game. (Get your tickets early...we typically sell that out too)
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Dave, we don't usually go to spring games because they are little more than fan events. The real work gets done before the spring games, and that's why we hit spring practices earlier. We're hoping to get to a bunch of schools this spring, and I'm hoping to go to some places I haven't spent much time previously.
Jon (Norwalk, CT)
Hi Brian! You are a gentleman and a scholar. I have 2 questions. What would you say are B. Houston's chances of starting as a True Freshman for the Badgers? Also, why is Wisconsin's recruiting class only 12 deep? I would have thought back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances would have increased the "supposed" quality of their classes.
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
You are too kind, Jon. It's never easy to step in as a true frosh, but it's not like there's a ton of experience ahead of Houston. I think the Badgers QB situation depends a lot on the health of Budmayr's elbow. If he's not ready, then it's wide open and we could see Houston sooner than later. It's a small class because Wisconsin didn't graduate a large senior class.
It seems to me that people go overboard with the recruiting rankings. I'm not saying that recruiting doesn't matter, but if you look at the last five years both MSU and Wisconsin had zero top 25 recruiting classes. Yet, they were clearly the top two teams in the Big Ten. Meanwhile, U of M fans are going crazy about how with a top five class they will be back to elite status. But they fail to realize they had top 25 recruiting classes in 4 of the last 5 years. I'm not saying Hoke won't get the Wolverines back to the top, I'm just saying the high recruiting ranking doesn't gaurantee that they will be able to surpass MSU. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Amen. Enjoy Wednesday, but don't go too crazy. You won't remember half these names in three years.
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
OK, folks, my time is up. Thanks for the great questions, and have a great week!