Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (1:01 PM)
Brian Bennett (1:01 PM)
My Big Ten Monday chat is on a Friday this week, but other than that, everything's the same. So fire away with your best questions
What specifically could Urban have done differently than Brian Kelly, given his specific talent set and offensive system, to attack to Bama defense and do you think it would've proven successful?
Brian Bennett (1:03 PM)
For one, I don't think Ohio State would have completely abandoned the run, as Notre Dame did. The Buckeyes' offensive line would have give them a better chance to move the ball on the ground with Hyde and Miller. But given the deficiencies of the Ohio State passing game, I'm not sure the outcome of such a matchup would have been a whole lot different, frankly.
Does G.Andersen have enough talent and coaching accumen to have a shot at returning to Rose Bowl
Brian Bennett (1:04 PM)
Gary Andersen did brilliant things with Utah State and was an excellent defensive coordinator before that. It looks like a great hire. Wisconsin brings a whole lot back and should be very good. The questions are whether the Badgers can manage the coaching transition and whether they can get past Ohio State, especially since the have to play in Columbus this fall
Nathan (Washington, DC)
What's the biggest question mark for Northwestern in 2013? What's most likely to stand between the 'Cats and a trip to Indy?
Brian Bennett (1:06 PM)
I'll give you two question marks: One, the pass defense. Even though it played great against Mississippi State, the Northwestern secondary still struggled in many big games in the Big Ten. And two, the development of the passing game on offense. It needs to become more consistent, especially when Kain Colter is in. The most likley thing to stand in the way of Indy, however, is the schedule. It gets tougher in 2013.
Fred The Hammer Williamson (Sarnia Ontario)
Brian... love to blog, keep up the great work. A lot of talk about the performance of the MSU defense this year. In terms of yards allowed, they were terrific. I don't think enough was made of their lack of big plays on defense this year which may have swung a couple of those games their way this year. I don't have the stats, but I don't think they ranked very high in sacks and creating turnovers, at least versus 2011. I think if this improves (and the offense of course), things could be much better next year even without Big Will. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (1:09 PM)
You're right about that. The defense had trouble closing out games, which is hard to pin on them since the offense put them in bad situations. But the Spartans ranked just 73rd nationally in turnovers created and only 93rd in sacks, which is odd for a defense that was so good in other areas. MSU needed those kinds of big plays this year. Still, the defense gave the team a chance to win every week, and it's hard to ask for a whole lot more.
tom Oklahoma [via mobile]
Whos the better coach Nick Saban 155-55-1 with 4 National Championships. Or Tom Osborne 255-49-3. With 3 National Championships. Also is going 49-2 in 4 years 3 years undefeated better then Bama 49-5.
Brian Bennett (1:11 PM)
Great question. I think it was Stewart Mandel who pointed out this week that Nebraska didn't have to necessarily play the second-best team every year during its run since it came before the BCS system. Saban has also won national titles at two schools. They're both two of the best of all time, but I'd give a slight, slight edge to Saban. Though I think Nebraska's run was more impressive overall because of the sheer dominance.
Orville (Lubbock, Texas)
If O'Brien is so dead set on staying at Penn State and is determined not to be a one-and-done, why did he even interview with a pro team? This seems like insincere coach-speak to me.
Brian Bennett (1:13 PM)
You can't blame someone in any profession for checking out all his options. I do believe there was some leverage going on here, as O'Brien himself said Penn State had agreed to upgrade recruiting, conditioning and other support areas.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Brian, I believe that while Michigan may be younger in spots next year than it was this year, that it will be much more talented especially on the OL and in the defense. Looking at the schedule, I don't think something like 9-3 is out the question. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (1:14 PM)
If those areas come together, 9-3 should be very attainable. Perhaps even better. Toughest games are home vs. Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State and on road vs. Northwestern, Penn State and Michigan State. There's plenty of talent on hand. It's just young, which makes it hard to predict.
Brett Hirner (Madison)
If they find a solid QB, is it ridiculous to think the Badgers could go 11-1 next year? They have an extremely easy schedule.
Brian Bennett (1:17 PM)
If Wisconsin can get back to protecting Camp Randall, something it failed to do well in 2012, then the toughest games will be at Arizona State and at Ohio State. So it's possible, for sure. Remember that every one of the Badgers' losses was close this year, with three of them coming in OT.
Vincent Smith (World of Hurt)
Brian, hey after Clowney hit me in the Outback Bowl, I've just now come back to full consciousness...sheesh did you get the plates on that truck? Anyway, the haters say that Lewan was owned on that play and that's why he was free to hit me...the tape of the game shows that the OLine did indeed have Lewan blocking someone else. I think Lewan was good in that game and think that him coming back to UM will help with transition to 3 new guys on the line (those guys are highly rated guys)...do you agree or is Lewan a bum for getting me nearly killed?
Brian Bennett (1:18 PM)
Andy Staples wrote extensively about that play over at SI.com, and Lewan said it was a miscommunication on a double team between him and his tight end. And, uh, it showed. But overall, I thought Lewan did a nice job on Clowney. It's just that Clowney made one spectacular, ridiculous, unforgettable play
I have seen 2013 predictions for Nebraska such as top 10 with a unstoppable offense to back end of rankings with a horrible d holding them down. What do you think the next year holds for Big Red. I think that both are kind of right but with that offense who will outscore them in reg season even if d is still below average.
Brian Bennett (1:20 PM)
I think you nailed both possible ends of the spectrum. The Nebraska offense could be devastating if it can learn to stay out of its own way. The Blackshirts just need to be competent, not elite, for the team to win a lot of games.And with the schedule, Nebraska should be at least 6-1 if not 7-0 heading into the Northwestern game.
Thoughts on the Ohio State defense next season?
Brian Bennett (1:22 PM)
Young but talented. The back end should be solid with Roby, Barnett and Bryant returning. We know all about Shazier. The other two LB spots will need shoring up, and Ohio State is replacing all four DL starters. But with guys like Washington, Spence, Bennett, etc, there's a lot of talent for Luke Fickell to work with. Think it might be a defense that improves greatly over the course of the season.
Kelley (Los Angeles, PSU Nation)
The scholarship reductions for PSU don't kick in until this year, so why did the bowl ban start this past season? Wouldn't it have made more sense to have the bowl ban over the same period as the scholarship reductions? Plus that way this senior class would have had a chance to play on New Year's Day which they deserved.
Brian Bennett (1:24 PM)
I'm not sure there was a whole lot of sense involved in those penalties. It surely wasn't based on precedent. Better to get the bowl ban over as soon as possible, though, because O'Brien can sell recruits on the possibility of postseason play before they leave campus.
Brian, I understand the desire everyone has for divisions that make geographic sense, but it seems unfair to the Western schools if they don't get to play regularly at one of the new additions to the B1G. Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota would be deprived of exposure to larger media influence and population bases, which hurts both athletic and academic recruitment. Do you think this is at all considered when deciding divisions?
Brian Bennett (1:25 PM)
You make a good point there. Unfortunately, when you grow to 14 schools with only an eight-game conference schedule for the time being, there is little way around it that I can see.
Thoughts on Ted Roof leaving as defensive coordinator for PSU, and John Butler taking over?
Brian Bennett (1:27 PM)
Roof has been a serial job-hopper, so it doesn't surprise me a whole lot. Butler seems like a very good coach who should thrive in the position. And keeping Johnson and Vanderlinden as assistants is huge for the consistency of that defense.
I don't think that ohio st def can compete with the sec schools yet. I think they are a year away from doing that. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (1:28 PM)
I'd agree if you're talking about Alabama. But if we're talking about some of the other SEC schools, what I saw from bowl season (hello, Florida) makes me think the Buckeyes aren't far away from competing with most schools from the league. Ohio State still needs more skill players on offense.
Is Penn St working on scheduling @Hawaii at the end of the year to get a 13th game and kind of send the seniors out in a bowl atmosphere?
Brian Bennett (1:31 PM)
O'Brien has mentioned that as a real possibility. I'm not sure where that stands, but Hawaii has games currently scheduled for the final two weeks of the season in 2013. I'd be a little surprised if Penn State didn't go to Hawaii sometime in the next few years
I've heard everyone discuss how Ohio State would have done against Alabama but how do you think they would have done against Notre Dame? If they were postseason eligible it would have been Ohio State vs. Notre Dame and at least these two look like they would have been pretty evenly matched.
Brian Bennett (1:33 PM)
Yes, and I believe that would have been the national title game. We saw Michigan play Notre Dame even and probably even outplay the Irish except for turnovers. I think if you gave Urban Meyer that long to prepare, Ohio State would have beaten Notre Dame. And SEC fans would never stop complaining about it.
Mike (Lewis Center, OH)
Brian, I just want you to get a message to the Big Ten office. If they even consider the Illibuck trophy an issue with realignment, I will personally firebomb them (Disclosure: I am JOKING)!! It is the most embarrassing trophy! One of my favorite college football memories is watching the Minnesota kicker earlier in the 2000's kick the winning field goal against Wisconsin and run over and jump the Wisconsin bench to get to the Paul Bunyon's Ax!! That was AWESOME. The Illibuck trophy is handled and maintained by two Junior Honor groups, not the football teams. The Honor groups exchange/present the trophy between quarters in the north end zone the year AFTER.....not right after the game. *sigh* Illibuck Sucks!
Brian Bennett (1:34 PM)
Yes, but at least it's a turtle.
Concerned Badger Fan (Heart of the SEC)
Brian- I'm concerned about the hires that Gary Anderson made. I know he's trying work with people he's familiar with and know, but there weren't many people with B1G ties or recruiting experience in the south, Should I be concerned?
Brian Bennett (1:35 PM)
Coaches hire people they know and trust. Keeping Strickland and Hammock on should help with recruiting. Everything I've heard about Andersen is that he's a great recruiter. There may also be some new ties in California for the Badgers. I'm not too concerned at this point.
If Jerry Kill is successful, how long do you see him staying in the Twin Cities? I understand there are multiple factors that could affect it (other possible employers fearing his health or age, spats with the MN athletic director/president, etc.), but I'm curious how many B1G schools could be a coach's 'destination job.'
Brian Bennett (1:37 PM)
Kill will be 52 in August, so he's young enough where he could still have another job or two in his future. You'd worry about either the Kansas or Kansas State job opening up since he's from there. But I think Minnesota would take the tradeoff if he built the Gophers up enough to where he became in demand.
Ok, I am a Ohio St, but I don't understand why Pat Fitzgerald doesn't get more pub for the job he has done at Northwestern. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (1:39 PM)
I agree. The previous bowl failures may have had something to do with it, but Fitzgerald has done an excellent job at Northwestern. And he just turned 38! He's the same age as me. What have I done with my life?
I have heard so many rumors about the Badgers playing in this Cowboy Classic against Bama to open the 2015 season. Any of this info true? If so, do you think this would be a good move from the Badgers? I mean look at how hyped up Michigan was before the season and after they lost that game their outlook changed dramatically. Is this a ploy to get us some recruits from the Lone Star State? Thanks BB
Brian Bennett (1:41 PM)
Wisconsin has confirmed that it's in talks for that game. I'm not sure I see the benefit. I guess it's good for exposure in Texas and some national pub, but is it worth it if you get your rear end kicked like Michigan did? Of course, who knows if Saban will even be there in 2015. But if he is, I'm backpedaling away from that matchup
Any inkling Notre Dame's Kelly is trying to do the escape sanctions dance in talking with NFL teams after emphatically saying he wouldn't?
Brian Bennett (1:41 PM)
Sanctions at Notre Dame? Please
Nick (Columbus, OH)
Brian....you just got me an hour closer to the weekend!! BOOYA!!
Brian Bennett (1:41 PM)
Glad to be of service.
JL (Warrenton, VA)
In his previous chat, Mel Kiper said that he thought the rule about players being 3 years out of high school was a bad rule. He said that in a comment about Clowney. But aren't there health and injury issues with young players taking the abuse provided by the NFL? Wouldn't younger bodies be at fairly serious risk taking such a big step?
Brian Bennett (1:43 PM)
Everybody is different. Clowney was probably ready as a high school senior. You think Le'Veon Bell didn't have an NFL body last year? It's an advantageous rule for CFB, since players have to stick around for three years. And many aren't ready for the NFL grind that early, anyway. But Clowney is
With the B1G adding hockey, do you see anyway BC would be attractive if, heaven forbid, further additions occur? The selling point for getting BTN into New England households could be hockey rather than football.
Brian Bennett (1:44 PM)
No. If basketball is completely irrelevant in expansion, then hockey is even more out of mind. BC brings a good market but is so overshadowed in its own city that I don't know it's worth it.
Tim (Columbus, Oh)
Everyone is talking about the B1G can do to be as good as the SEC. While that's great, what about baby steps. What does the B1G have to do to become the 2nd best conference? Once that's reached, maybe then we can start looking at dethroning the SEC to be considered the best conference.
Brian Bennett (1:46 PM)
A big thing is depth, both in number of teams in contention and roster depth. But the biggest thing I see is more skill players. Where are the elite QBs and WRs in the Big Ten? They're all over the place in the Big 12 and the Pac-12, and the game has gone that way in recent years.
Nick (Columbus, OH)
Brian, do you still have a beer and hang out with Pat Forde down there in Louisville? Or is he the enemy now?
Brian Bennett (1:47 PM)
Pat's a good friend and will never be an enemy. We're both so busy during college season that our paths don't cross as much. But I'm sure I'll see him on the hoops trail and at Derby time.
Tim (Columbus, Oh)
People are talking about Ohio State in 2013, but really, their magical year will more than likely be 2014. Braxton Miller will be a senior and hopefully has polished his passing game, the defense should be stout with all the defensive recruits Meyer has gone after, and some playmakers are liable to step up by then. So a lot of people are saying 2013, but I'm saying 2014. What say you?
Brian Bennett (1:48 PM)
I think that's pretty fair. Give those young defensive linemen another year to mature. Give Meyer time to bring in and develop more wide receivers and offensive weapons. There's a very good chance the '14 team could be better than the '13 version.
doug g (san antonio)
If you had to pick right now...who is the qb for the badgers next year? Stave? Phillips? O'brien? Houston? Thanks
Brian Bennett (1:50 PM)
I think it will be between Stave and Phillips. Andy Ludwig mentioned to me in our interview that having athletic ability to buy time in the pocket is a must, and Phillips is better at that than Stave. Stave has the better arm, but Phillips should get better at that as he rebuilds lower-body strength. I think I'd give Phillips a slight edge.
Frank Lepkowski (Liverpool, NY)
What information do you have regarding the ACC lawsuit against Maryland? Haven't see any info on when the case will be heard. Also, do you think that the Big 10 will go to 16 teams and raid the ACC even further? If they do go to 16 teams what teams do you think will the Big 10 go after?
Brian Bennett (1:51 PM)
I haven't seen any information lately on the lawsuit. These things move slowly. I fully expect an out-of-court settlement there. Very few people think the Big Ten will stop at 14 because it's a weird number. The ACC is the conference most ripe for the picking, and the Big Ten is obviously looking toward the south and the east.
Cosmo (Anytown, USA)
Can I get a prediction for PSU's record throughout the sanctions (provided Corbett is not successful in his lawsuit)? I think it's very important for them to have a winning record this year (maybe even next) in order to have some sort of competitive team coming out of the sanctions?
Brian Bennett (1:53 PM)
Really difficult to predict that far ahead. I think Penn State will have a winning record this year, but after that, who knows? Depth will start to become an issue at some point, particularly if there are a lot of injuries. I believe the Lions will stay competitive, but they may have to be around the 6-6, 5-7 mark in a couple of years. We'll see.
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Hey Brian - thanks for taking a question from another Brian. Do you think the State of PA's lawsuit against the NCAA will result in a reduction in sanctions against PSU?
Brian Bennett (1:54 PM)
No, I do not. I think it's just political posturing, mostly. But any lawsuit that can expose the NCAA hypocrisy is not necessarily a bad thing.
Brett Hirner (Madison)
Who do you see as the biggest competition for the Buckeyes next year. I personally think the Badgers could have a good enough team to possibly pull the upset next year, especially now that Bielema isn't there to screw up clock management and play calling.
Brian Bennett (1:55 PM)
I think the Leaders is a three-team race again between Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. While Indiana should continue to improve and could pull off some upsets, I don't think the Hoosiers, Purdue or Illinois or ready to compete for division titles. Given Penn State's personnel losses, it's probably more of a two-team race.
If the B1G offered membership to North Carolina & NC State would they accept? Or would NC prefer Duke come along?
Brian Bennett (1:57 PM)
It would be really hard for UNC to accept leaving the ACC since it's such a huge part of the Heels' culture and history. And no Carolina AD or president would want to be known as the person who ended the Duke rivalry. But if the ACC starts to fall apart, UNC may be left without a lot of other great options.
If it's in the game (It's in the game)
Any chance your likeness gets on a future NCAA video game to send out tweets and 'blog' like Madden 13 does with its analysts?
Brian Bennett (1:57 PM)
That would probably be a pretty bad game.
Mike (Paris, OH)
Do you think the Big Ten has lost a "sense of self" with so many teams going to spread offenses that emphasize QBs and WRs?It seems to me the Big Ten would be more successful if they went back to being more pro-style with an emphasis on the O-line and RBs.Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (1:58 PM)
The spread worked out pretty well for Ohio State, Nebraska and Northwestern. So ... no.
Jake (Oakland, CA)
Hey Brian, I've been a little disappointed that there hasn't been more coverage (especially in the local circles) about IUs upcoming recruiting class. While a good recruiting class doesn't equal wins, it does help down the line. My questions is, are there any players who could make an impact immediately? And will their impact (especially on the defensive side) be enough to push IU into bowling territory?
Brian Bennett (1:59 PM)
I really like what Indiana is doing, especially with its recruiting on the defensive side. Let's be honest: a lot of those guys will get chances to play right away, because the Hoosiers need all kinds of help on that side of the ball
Brian Bennett (2:00 PM)
That's all my time for this week, folks. Thanks for joining the chat and have a great weekend