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June 11, 1:00 PM ET
Chat on the 2009 schedule

Brian Bennett
  (12:59 PM)

Hello, everybody. It's June but we're still talking college football. I'm the first of our conference bloggers to join you today for 30 minutes. Fire away with your Big East questions, and my colleagues will be along for your questions about other leagues

Steve (PA)

Good afternoon Brian, Question: In your opinion... How many games can West Virginia lose, and still be considered a decent year for the Mountaineers?

Brian Bennett
  (1:00 PM)

I think another 9-4 season would have to be considered decent. Now, that could be 8-4 with a good bowl win or 9-3 with a bowl loss. Anything less and I think there could be some grumbling.

Chris (Jersey)

Brian, who do you think winds up as the starting QB for Rutgers when the season starts? and who will be the QB at the end of the season?

Brian Bennett
  (1:01 PM)

I'd put my money on Dom Natale starting the season, simply due to his edge in experience. But I'm really looking forward to seeing Tom Savage this fall. I'd be stunned if he weren't at least getting some snaps by midseason, and he could very well end up the starter.

Stephen (Harrisburg, PA)

The Penn State-Pitt rivalry is not really a rivalry at all. In fact Joe Paterno's record versus Pitt is 23-7-1. Also Pitt football has not been competitive since the Dan Marino era. Pitt is now a basketball school, like Kentucky and North Carolina, where football is forgotten as soon as basketball season starts. Taking this into account, why all the fight and fuss about, especially from Pitt people, renewing the "rivalry?"

Brian Bennett
  (1:03 PM)

Competitiveness really doesn't dictate what's a rivalry or not. It's based more on history and especially proximity. Come clean: as a Penn State fan, which would you rather crow about for a year? A win over Oregon State, or Pittsburgh, the latter of which would allow you to make fun of neighbors and co-workers

Sylvain (calgary)

Hey Brian, Do you think the Big East will ever reach the success they had around the middle of this decade when you had Louisville and WVU constantly in the Top 15? Their appears to be no player on any roster that can lift his team deep into the BCS chase ALA Pat White.

Brian Bennett
  (1:04 PM)

Ever? Sure. That's a long time. Not this year. But I do think Syracuse should improve. Rutgers is building to something special. And West Virginia will always be good. These things go in cycles.

geurdsy (NJ)

Since Hazleton can't play for Cincy this year, any chance that he doesn't actually show up there next fall?

Brian Bennett
  (1:04 PM)

Haven't heard anything along those lines. He had to know when he transferred that there was a good chance the NCAA would deny his appeal. Where else would he go? He'd have to sit out unless he went the FCS route.

Mike (Maple Shade, NJ) [via mobile]

Brian, it looks like Rutgers has the most favorable BE schedule - home versus WVU, Pitt, USF, and UC @UConn, UL and SU. Will that be enough for the Scarlet to win its first Big East title? Thanks!

Brian Bennett
  (1:05 PM)

Favorable is one way to put. It's as manageable a schedule as you could imagine, especially when you consider the nonconference. Rutgers still needs to shore up its QB and WR spots, but otherwise things are lined up perfectly.

Nick (Pittsburgh)

As you had yesterday in a blog, pitts two big non conference games are nd the nc state. i think they have a good chance to go 2-0 in those games. What do you think?

Brian Bennett
  (1:06 PM)

I like their chances at home against Notre Dame. On the road at NC State will be tougher than you think.

Will (Charleston)

I know this question is very finicky at this point in the year (heck, it's hard to answer this question even before the game in question), but which game would you say is WVU's MUST win.

Brian Bennett
  (1:07 PM)

Liberty. That's the next one on the schedule

rerun (su)

speaking of syracuse, should the fan base be concerned (lack of depth) about the number of players who have left the team (19 i think) under the new regime, or excited that marrone is "cleaning houose" and letting these players go to a school where they can play? also, what about syracuses schedule? is a schedule that is that tough saomething that can be viewed as an asset, or is it too tough for a rebuilding program?

Brian Bennett
  (1:09 PM)

That kind of turnover happens all the time when a new coach takes over. The thing that would worry me is that Syracuse didn't have a lot of talent and depth to begin with. Louisville still hasn't recovered from the turnover that happened under Kragthorpe. Marrone is going to have to do good work on the recruiting trail the next two years. As for the schedule, I think it's ridiculous. There's no reason to start the season with three straight games against Big Ten bowl teams.

Paul (Albany, OR)

Ouch on a shot from the Big East guy about playing Oregon State. I do seem to recall O State beating a top Big East team in a bowl last year, shutting them out in fact. But I digress. Has Cincy made so many changes that O State will win when the Bearcats travel to Corvallis? Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (1:11 PM)

That wasn't a shot in any way at Oregon State, which is a fine program. I was talking about emotional resonance. You'd rather beat Oregon than some team across the country, right? Anyway, Cincinnati will have 10 new starters on defense but I think by the time they get to Corvallis they will have started to figure things out. Still going to be a very tough road game.

Will (Charleston, WV)

Sir Bennett, I would like to thank you for you coverage of the Big East. You've always done a great job of avoiding the pitfalls of bias. Now on to my question. Which defense in the Big East would you say is currently looking the best (don't worry, I won't bring this up during the season to say you were wrong)?

Brian Bennett
  (1:12 PM)

Flattery will get you everywhere. Right now, I'd say Pitt has a slight edge in overall strength, followed very closely by your Mountaineers, Rutgers and -- if they fix the secondary -- South Florida.

Jim (Grand Junction, CO)

Does the NCAA have any authority over the OOC scheduling practices of the schools? Can or will they step in to stop the slide into scheduling all cupcakes?

Brian Bennett
  (1:13 PM)

No authority whatsoever.

geurdsy (NJ)

Brian, you gonna make it out to all the Big East stadiums this year for a home game?

Brian Bennett
  (1:13 PM)

Depends on what my bosses want me to do. Eight stadiums in 12 weeks is a tall order, though.

tate (charleston)

Brian, who do you think will become a standout play-maker out of the upcoming freshman class at WVU?

Brian Bennett
  (1:14 PM)

Based on what I've heard, I'd say Tavon Austin. He should get the most opportunity right away, especially on kick returns.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Can Stull lead Pitt to a good season without McCoy? It seems like with Wanny's solid recruiting, they should be better set at QB.

Brian Bennett
  (1:15 PM)

It's going to have to be a group effort. Stull isn't Tebow or Bradford, for sure. Pitt will try to rely on its defense, running game and receivers making plays while avoiding mistakes.

jason (louisville)

any thoughts on the Offensive side of the ball this season for Louisville. With another new scheme, a green QB, WRs that have been injured every season they've been here, and a very suspect o-line that got torn apart by a 250 lb. converted TE in the spring game, it doesn't seem like there's too much hope for improvement this season. There doesn't seem to be any stars outside of Victor Anderson, and I have a feeling that opponents are going to stack 8 in the box and dare them to try to complete a pass. Any thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (1:17 PM)

I actually really like Louisville's receiving corps. (Look for my stor on Scott Long this afternoon ... shameless plug). Long, Beaumont, Guy, Chichester and Pascley are one of the deepest groups in the league. Anderson is the real deal, and freshman Darius Ashley looks good, too. The problem is that the quarterbacks look shaky and the offensive line scares me. All the skill guys in the world can't cover that up.

Jim (DC)

It sure seems like the Mountaineers are stocked with weapons at receiver...and I'm a little surprised Heastie wasn't your pick for standout frosh. What can you tell me about Jarrett Brown's development and coach Stew's proclivity toward opening up the passing game as evidenced last year?

Brian Bennett
  (1:18 PM)

Well, Heastie will have to fight for time behind Arnett, Starks, Lyons and Sanders (if he comes back). Austin will at least be involved in special teams. I like Jarrett Brown a lot and think he's a very talented guy. If the offensive line comes together, I think he'll have a strong year.

chauncey (teaneck)

You don't think Lovelace has a shot he is a 5th year senior and a good friend of mine.

Brian Bennett
  (1:20 PM)

I'm not sure if being an FOC (Friend of Chauncey) will help his cause. Just kidding. Jabu will get a shot at playing for Rutgers, but my impression is he's more of a change of pace guy who can come in and provide a running threat. He does not look like an every-down quarterback to me. He could prove me wrong, however.

Will J (Portland, OR)

What Big East conference game are you most excited to see?

Brian Bennett
  (1:21 PM)

Honestly, the first one. Cincinnati-Rutgers on Labor Day. That's a fascinating matchup that should tell us a lot about both teams right away. The conference is so wide open otherwise that it's nearly impossible to say which matchups will be the most crucial late in the season.

Tony (York)

Mr. Bennett, you really think Pitt is going to be Notre Dame this year? Please give me your reasoning on this!

Brian Bennett
  (1:22 PM)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Pitt beat Notre Dame in South Bend with its backup quarterback (Bostick) playing?

Rodney (New York City)

Do you really think UConn's defense will be in the bottom half of the Big East this year? Aside from West Virginia, Big East teams have had a lot of trouble scoring on them the past few years.

Brian Bennett
  (1:23 PM)

Bottom half? Hadn't thought of it that way, though I didn't mention them earlier in my list of four. Randy Edsall always puts out a great defense, and it's usually underrated. I like the defensive tackles, linebackers and safeties a lot. Waiting to see about the defensive ends.

Tate (charleston, wv)

I've heard rumor that the big east is talking about expanding and adding a few more teams, to have a conf. title game.. do you think they will and if so what teams would be on the list?

Brian Bennett
  (1:24 PM)

They would have to add four teams. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Who's your dark horse for the conference title?

Brian Bennett
  (1:24 PM)

I'd say all these horses are pretty dark this year.

Josh (pittsburgh)

Brian, every report coming from pitt is that Dion Lewis will be the starter. How do u think he will do, and where does our o-line rank among the others in the BE?

Brian Bennett
  (1:25 PM)

I was pretty impressed with him this spring, but boy, he's small. That hasn't hurt Vic Anderson or Noel Devine, but it's still hard to imagine a true freshman that size lasting an entire season. I think Burns and Harris will still figure into the mix.

jason (louisville)

any chance that Brent Guy improves Louisville's Defense this season? There's a whole lot of holes in the 2ndary, and the line seems patchwork at best. Plus, I don't think his Utah St. defenses managed to climb above the low 70's in his time there. Any thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (1:28 PM)

I can't see it being much better with that defensive line and that secondary. Of course, it can't be any worse than it was against Rutgers in the final week.

Jim (DC)

Given Big East success in bowl games lately, is there reason to believe that the conference is underrated as a national player. I know we haven't had too many true viable candidates for a championship, but isn't that largely due to the fact that the other Big East teams on the schedule are also underrated? South Florida, UConn, Cincy and others didn't just become competitive overnight.

Brian Bennett
  (1:29 PM)

I think this: the Big East can play with just about anybody year in and year out, with the possible exception of the super-elite programs of any given year. I do think this is a rebuilding year for the league as a whole, however

tre (south florida)

what are the chances USF has against UM and FSU this year?

Brian Bennett
  (1:29 PM)

I like them to beat Miami but lose to Florida State, but it's June and my opinion may change.

Jason (Mobile, AL)

What are the chances that Josh Jenkins has an outstanding year at WVU this season? I can imagine us building out O-Line around him; yes he's young, but I understand he's undoubtedly the most talented raw talent we've ever had at his position. As a true soph, he's had that extra year of strength

Brian Bennett
  (1:31 PM)

You don't usually build O-lines around guards. It's usually tackles and centers. Jenkins is a talented guy, and as a whole, this line looks to me to have a little more bulk and speed than in year's past, when WVU did a lot of zone blocking. They're young and inexperienced though.

Brian Bennett
  (1:31 PM)

OK, that's all the time for me. Tim Griffin of the Big 12 is up next. Thanks, everybody!

Mike (Dallas, TX)

Brian, what are your thoughts and evaluations of Baylor University's Quarterback Robert Griffin?

Tim Griffin
  (1:35 PM)

Welcome everybody, I'm here. I'll take that question from Brian. I actually think that Robert Griffin is one of the most exciting players in college football. He has world-class speed - it won't surprise me if he runs in the Olympics one day. But he's given up track this summer and gotten bigger to prepare for his upcoming season.

Matt (Houston, TX)

How come OU O-line from last year didn't get more credit? I have a feeling Bradford is going to get exposed come fall...

Tim Griffin
  (1:37 PM)

Matt: You bring up a valid point, although the Sooners line did struggle in its two losses. Bradford was repeatedly getting hit late in the Texas game and struggled against Florida as well. I think the Sooners' line got overshadowed because of all of the skill-position talent that OU had, topped off by Sam Bradford at quarterback.

Nick Wohlgemuth (Lincoln, NE)

What do you think are each teams odds of winning the Big XII?

Tim Griffin
  (1:38 PM)

Nick:I don't know what kind of odds you would say, but here are my choices in order of each team winning the conference. 1. Texas2. OU3. Oklahoma State4. Nebraska5. Texas Tech6. Kansas7. Colorado8. Missouri9. Baylor 10. Kansas State11. Texas A

Jim (Grand Junction, CO)

Tim: Please give your take on Colorado limiting the transfer of Josh Smith to USC. He listed Arizona State as a program that also had the program he was interested in. It seems to me that this is just a young man whose interests changed or expanded after he had entered college. Why punish or restrict him?

Tim Griffin
  (1:40 PM)

Jim: I didn't like the answer that Colorado gave when they explained why Smith could only attend USC with their graces. I get the idea he would prefer to play at Arizona State when his friend the quarterback. I think his chances of playing are better with the Sun Devils, too. I think that such a restriction is kind of punishing him. It will be interesting how the board rules when everything comes out.

RAY GORDON REID (NEW ORLEANS LOUISIANA 70112)

QUESTIONTO TIM GRIFFIN AT 1.45 PM HI TIM HOW YOU THINK TEXAS TECH GONNA THIS YEAR

Tim Griffin
  (1:41 PM)

Ray:Not nearly as well as last season. They're obviously going to struggle without Harrell and Crabtree, but I think the loss of McBath and Charbonnet at safety could be big, too. I'll predict they'll go 7-5.

Michael (Atlanta)

Do you think that teams that back out of a scheduled series should be penalized in some way? If so, how?

Tim Griffin
  (1:42 PM)

Michael: I think they should have a big yellow streak painted across their media guides.But I forgot, most of them aren't going to have media guids in the future.

Michael (Atlanta)

Do you know your schedule yet? What games exactly you'll be covering? What are you most looking forward to?

Tim Griffin
  (1:43 PM)

Michael:I don't know my schedule, but the five Big 12 games I'm looking forward to most this season are:1. Texas-OU2. Texas-OSU3. OU-OSU4. Nebraska-Kansas5. Nebraska-Missouri

Spencer White (Fayetteville, AR)

What part of the OU defense will be the weakness and strength? Explain also...

Tim Griffin
  (1:47 PM)

Spencer:I think the strength of the OU defense will be their front seven. Both their linebackers and defensive line have incredible depth. I think some backups like Washington, King and Granger could be starting for a lot of teams along the defensive front. Same thing with their linebackers. The Sooners are deeper than any Big 12 team at the position. My biggest concern is at safety. Replacing Holmes and Harris will be difficult. But I think that Emmanuel Jones, Sam Proctor and Quinton Carter can emerge as key players by the time the season starts.

Andy (Ames, IA)

Tim, how many games do you think it will take before Rhoads and Herman have the ISU offense running on all cylinders?

Tim Griffin
  (1:48 PM)

Andy: How about 8? I think it might be tough early this season, but they should be productive by the middle of the year. I'm particularly interested to see what Alexander Robinson will do.

Christopher (LA, California )

Who do you think will emerge as the leading running back for texas?

Tim Griffin
  (1:49 PM)

Christopher: Early in the year, I'll go with Vondrell McGee. But later, look for Chris Whaley. If he's as good as advertised it might be tough for Greg Davis to keep him out of the starting lineup.

Will J (Portland, OR)

I think a Oklahoma St and Oregon St would be a great game. OSU v. OSU, similar uniform color scheme, OKSt is very offensive minded, where as ORSt is very defensive minded.

Tim Griffin
  (1:50 PM)

Will: I agree with you and think it would be an interesting matchup between two underrated coaches in Mike Gundy and Mike Riley.

John (Port Arthur, TX)

Tim. Thanks for coming on. Your take on: OU's rebuilt O-line vs. Texas' rebuilt front four.

Tim Griffin
  (1:51 PM)

John: This could very easily decide the RRR on Oct. 17. I'll take the Texas line in this matchup, mainly because of the expected emergence of Sergio Kindle.

Nathan (Santa Cruz CA)

Hi Tim,I read your piece a few days ago about Bradford's numbers. I have heard him say more than once that he feels he owes the university four years of football for giving him the chance to live his dream. What are the implications if this really happens? Unbreakable 4-year TD totals?

Tim Griffin
  (1:53 PM)

Nathan: That's why I got that post together. It would be incredible to see what kind of numbers that Bradford could put together if he stayed for four years. But something tells me that his interest in staying around school might be a little lessened if an NFL team more to his liking than Detroit were to materialize in prime drafting position next year.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Is there any team in the north that will give Mizzou a fight for a spot in the title game?

Tim Griffin
  (1:54 PM)

Will: I actually have three -- and I think that all will finish ahead of the rebuilding Tigers this season. I'll go with Nebraska, Kansas and Colorado in that order. Missouri likely will go 7-5 and could be headed for a bowl game in Shreveport or El Paso this season. They just have too many holes to fill.

Derek (Stillwater)

Love the blog! Why hasn't ESPN announced that it is picking up OSU-UGA for College Gameday on Sept 5th? You can't tell me there is a better matchup that America wants to see?

Tim Griffin
  (1:56 PM)

Derek: Your post is well taken, but I think there's also going to be an attractive game in Atlanta this season with Alabama and Virginia Tech. I'm glad I don't have to make the tough decision as to which game to cover.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Tim, should there be a limit to how far out teams should be able to schedule OOC games? Say 3 years max?

Tim Griffin
  (1:57 PM)

Will: I don't think so. Some of the biggest games are booked 8-10 years out. I don't have any problem with them being done that far out.

Peter (Conn.)

With all the talk about BYU's WR McKay Jacobsen returning from his mission, who should Oklahoma use to cover him?

Tim Griffin
  (1:58 PM)

How about Dominique Franks? I think Franks would be up for the showdown, don't you?

Matt (Philadelphia)

Will KU get over the hump and get to Dallas or will their South Division schedule be too much to overcome?

Tim Griffin
  (2:00 PM)

Matt I just think that might be asking a lot of them. They lost all three games to Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech last season. All three will be huge challenges for the Jayhawks this season.

Michael (Atlanta)

Do you think Dez can make the leap and start doing some stuff outside of Stillwater?

Tim Griffin
  (2:01 PM)

Michael: I would think so. I can see him emerging as a darkhorse Heisman candidate if he has a successful multi-dimensional season. If he could catch a touchdown pass or two, run back a punt and maybe throw one in the Georgia game, I guarantee people would start looking at him as a Heisman candidate.

Tim Griffin
  (2:02 PM)

Guys:Thanks for the great questions. I'm going to lateral this off to my newly-wedded colleague Adam Rittenberg for some hot sports chatting from the Big Ten.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:03 PM)

Thanks, Tim. Hey guys, let's talk college football in June. Fire away.

Mitchell (Indiana)

How do you see Michigans 2010 class ranking? Also what are are chances with Kyle Prater?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:04 PM)

I love the way Michigan's class is shaping up. In fact, I have a recent blog post about the Wolverines' hot start to 2010 recruiting. Right now, Michigan definitely has the best class in the league. ... As for Prater, it'll be tough to get him away from Illinois, but it's certainly possibly, especially given Michigan's need at receiver.

Trevor (Red Wing, MN)

Adam, how many bowl-eligible teams will the Big 10 have? I could see 8 or 9 this year.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:05 PM)

It will definitely be more than seven. I was amazed that Illinois could get to six wins last year. Aside from Indiana and Purdue, all the other Big Ten teams have pretty legit shots at bowls. And if things fall right, IU and PU could be in the mix as well.

Adam (Baltimore)

Any chance Navy shocks the world at OSU on Sept. 5th?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:06 PM)

There's always a chance because of Navy's unusual style and the fact that it's the season opener. Plus, Ohio State has USC the next week. With all that says, no way Ohio State loses that game. The Buckeyes are way too disciplined on defense.

Stephen (SC)

What do you think is the wins ceiling for the Badgers this year? I really hope coach B gives Curt Phillips a chance to get on the field.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:07 PM)

Phillips finished the spring pretty strong, so I'd say it's been him and Sherer for the starting job. I don't see a ton of talent top to bottom with the Badgers, but the schedule sets up decently for them. I'd put Wisconsin between 6-9 wins, most likely ending up at 8-4.

Kyle (Chicago)

You hearing anything today about the status of Jaamal Berry with Ohio State? Is he expected to be an integral part of their offense?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:07 PM)

I'll have to look into the rumors about Berry. He's certainly expected to compete for some carries this year, but with the strong spring performances of Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, I don't see him being a featured back until 2010 or later.

Bernard (Princeton, NJ)

Adam, your suggestion of PSU playing Pitt has had some strong opposition as I thought it might. Most PSU fans have no interest in playing Pitt again. That is an old forgotten rivalry. A PSU rivalry with VaTech, Miami, ND, or Rutgers seems to be much better for the program.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:09 PM)

Well, those Penn State fans aren't the ones e-mail me demanding the Pitt series start up again. I think it's more divided than you think. A lot of your fellow fans want to see Pitt on the schedule again. Same goes for Miami, Maryland, Va Tech, etc. But don't discount the demand for the Pitt rivalry.

Ty (Kalamazoo)

Adam, everyone asks about the offensive side of the ball when it comes to Michigan State, since we have questions about the RB position, and obviously the QB battle. But how do you think our secondary stacks up against the rest of the Big Ten? We should be pretty deep this year despite losing All-Big Ten safety Otis Wiley

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:10 PM)

The secondary is extremely deep, Ty, and it doesn't hurt that safety Trenton Robinson was arguably the MVP of the spring. He adds another body at safety to go along with DBs like Fortener, Ware, etc.

Tom (illinois)

Is Arrelious Benn a legit Heisman candidate.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:11 PM)

Interesting question, Tom. Benn certainly is a well-known name, which always helps with the Heisman. And Illinois could have an extremely dynamic passing game. Plus, the Illini play Missouri, Penn State and Michigan State early on. But Benn would really need to light it up and get to the end zone more often to have any chance.

Charles (Toms River)

How good will Michigan's defense really be if they pulled their D-coordinator from Syracuse - one of the worst football programs in the nation?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:12 PM)

As I wrote when they hired Greg Robinson, some guys are much better as coordinators than head coaches. Robinson seems to fit into this category. I was a bit surprised Michigan dumped Scott Shafer so soon, but Robinson should make a positive impact with the defense this fall.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Is 9-3 the ceiling for Iowa? Don't see them getting beat at Kinnick, but that Big 10 road schedule is brutal.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:13 PM)

I'd say 10-2 is the ceiling. Iowa should sweep the nonconference portion and has a good shot at going 4-0 in Big Ten home games. But with the brutal league road schedule, 2-2 would be pretty good.

Jason F (Norman)

Whatever happened to our old 3rd string QB, Keith Nichols? Is he moving his way up a depth chart somewhere?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:14 PM)

Keith Nichol is right in the mix for Michigan State's starting quarterback job with Kirk Cousins. He performed well on the scout team last year and impressed the coaches this spring, staying neck and neck with Cousins, last year's backup QB.

Jason (B'ham, Al)

I know its another year away, but how exciting is the Penn State vs Alabama matchup going to be? I may have to tranquilize my father before kickoff!

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:15 PM)

Ha, that's awesome. Be careful, though. Yeah, I'm pretty pumped for that series, especially since Penn State isn't playing anyone near Alabama's caliber this year. Excited to see Penn State schedule Alabama, Rutgers and hopefully Miami in the near future.

Travis (Austin)

will the BIG TEN ever change thier scheduling dynamics to a more competitive format, where a big 10 champ could potentialy not play OSU and Michigan?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:16 PM)

There's a push among Big Ten athletic directors for a ninth conference game, but that presents a new set of problems as one team would play only eight league contests. The unbalanced schedule is a problem, but there's no way the Big Ten will ever play a round robin. Too much revenue would be lost.

Dan (Chicago)

Has Denard Robinson started training in Ann Arbor yet? If not when will arrive?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:17 PM)

I'd have to check on Denard's high school schedule, but he should be in Ann Arbor by now or in the near future. I'm excited to see him compete with Tate Forcier. Robinson is a very confident kid, and from what I've read and seen on tape, he's ridiculously fast.

Jon (Iowa)

Do YOU prefer that the BigTen add another team or do you like the conference as-is? if you do prefer an expansion, who would you like to be the other team...my choice (besides Notre Dame) is Pitt

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:18 PM)

I've stated my preference that the Big Ten expand and add Missouri as the 12th team. There would be natural rivalries with Iowa and Illinois, and Missouri fits the Midwestern mold that will always be the essence of the conference. Notre Dame obviously is the best fit, but the Irish have no reason to join a league at this point.

Jerome (Youngstown)

Seems like you've spent a lot of quality time with the coaches ofthe Big Ten. In your opinion, who would do the best on the game show Jeopardy?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:20 PM)

Great question, Jerome. Hmmm ... Joe Paterno remains a very sharp guy, and he'd do well on any of the historical categories. I'd also like to see Kirk Ferentz, Mark Dantonio and Jim Tressel on the show.

Alan (K-zoo)

Do you think Charlie Weis could coach for Purdue if he grew a mustache?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:20 PM)

Well, a mustache is mandatory for any Purdue coach. But Weis at Purdue wouldn't exactly be a good fit.

Matt (Philadelphia)

How could Pat Fitzgerald not win Jeopardy?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:21 PM)

True, Fitz is a very sharp guy, well read. It's that Northwestern education.

Scott (Yakima, WA)

Adam, how are you ranking the B10 special teams this year? This is an often overlooked factor.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:22 PM)

I was going to get to the special teams rankings soon, Scott. You're absolutely right about special teams often being overlooked. As for the league's best, Michigan State looks pretty solid to me. Ohio State is always good, but the Buckeyes need to replace Trapasso. Illinois also looks pretty strong with Matt Eller, return man Arrelious Benn and others.

Luke (Columbus, IN)

Hey Adam, you do a great job covering the Big Ten..keep it up!My questions is, I went through Purdue's schedule and I had them going 6-6 (beating Toledo, Northern Illinois, ND, NW, ILL,IU)...I could see them also maybe getting 8 wins because I think MICH and MINN are very beatable...though i could also see another 3-9 season.What you think of Purdue's Chances this year? the schedule really isn't "really tough"?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:24 PM)

Thanks, Luke. Purdue's non-league slate is pretty challenging with both Oregon and Notre Dame. Northern Illinois won't be an easy game, either. I actually feel fairly confident in Purdue's defense, but there are some major questions on offense, particularly in the passing game. One very encouraging sign this spring was the play of the running backs (more on that in Friday's blog). If the running back becomes a bigger part of the offense with an improved O-line, six wins certainly are within reach.

Trevor (Red Wing, MN)

Adam, say you're a prize recruit. Based on head coaches alone, who do you play for? My man T-Brew in the discussion?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:26 PM)

Brew definitely gets after it in recruiting and I'm a big-city guy, so I like Minneapolis. The new stadium is pretty sweet, too. But there are other schools I'd definitely look at around the league (Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State).

Brandon (The Natti)

Help me believe the Buckeye O-Line will be better this year.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:27 PM)

Justin Boren's arrival really seems to have energized that group, Brandon. I'm hesitant to say a guard can change an entire line, but Boren set the tone this spring. The big question to me is left tackle. Can Mike Adams live up to the hype or will someone else step in? It was fairly murky there after spring ball.

Brian (Madison)

Is there a possibility of John Clay leading the conference in rushing this year? Badgers might not have the O-Line of yester year but he is pretty dominant.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:28 PM)

I'm a huge John Clay fan, and if the line stays healthy, he should have a huge season this fall. Wisconsin needs to show it can challenge defenses with the pass, but the running game is usually solid and Clay will play a huge role.

Tiffany (Ill)

Do you think the Big Ten teams will root for OSU to beat USC? Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:29 PM)

They should, Tiffany. No game means more to the entire conference than Ohio State-USC. No team has hurt the Big Ten more than USC, so the entire league (even Michigan) should be supporting Ohio State on Sept. 12. Otherwise, get ready for a lot more Big Ten bashing.

Tiffany (Ill)

Do you know if any other Big Ten teams (aside from Minn) are interested in playing USC in the next few years? Thanks.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:29 PM)

I haven't heard anything, but you never know in scheduling. Things can change quickly.

Juice Williams (Urbana)

Is it just me, or have I been in college for like 7 years now?

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:30 PM)

Nah, it hasn't been that long, has it? When you start at quarterback for four years, it can seem like a long time.

Adam Rittenberg
  (2:31 PM)

That's it for me, guys. Enjoyed the chat, as always. Please stay tuned for some ACC football talk with Heather Dinich. Take it away, HD.

Heather Dinich
  (2:31 PM)

Thanks, Adam. I'm here, let's get started.

SP (Greenville. NC)

Which game should the Hokies be most concerned about?

Heather Dinich
  (2:34 PM)

I'm going to go with the road trip to Georgia Tech. It will be a critical game against a Coastal Division opponent, and one that will go a long way in determining the ACC race. Yes, Bama is big, but a win in Atlanta won't equal an ACC title win.

Matt (Ashburn, Virginia)

Where would you rank the ACC in terms of BCS conferences this year?

Heather Dinich
  (2:34 PM)

I really think it has a legit chance to stack up behind the SEC and the Big 12.

Garret (Flint)

what football matchups would you like to see in a ACC Big Ten challenge?

Heather Dinich
  (2:36 PM)

Well, half the ACC could schedule Penn State and it would be a great game. Penn State/Virginia Tech would be great because of the regional ties, I'd love to see Frank Spaziani take on his old coach ... but also Miami and Ohio State (yes, I know it's on the sked for next year). Michigan/NC State would be fun, and Iowa should be good this year, so line them up against somebody, too.

Fred (Miami)

What do you think of Jacorry Harris training with Daunte Culpepper? Good or bad?

Heather Dinich
  (2:37 PM)

I think it's great for Jacory, and he said it's been nothing but beneficial to him. He has really become a leader of that team. He's ready.

Kory (Houston)

What would make you think that the depth of the ACC this year still leaves them behind the two team Big 12? Unless you think that Texas one dimensional 5 yard slant offense, Oklahoma State, Nebraska etc separate themselves so much from the top 5 ACC teams.

Heather Dinich
  (2:39 PM)

Well, Kansas should be a top 25 team, too, right? And look out for Oklahoma State this year. Pelini has Nebraska heading in the right direction. We'll see what VT can do against them, Duke has Kansas and Miami has Oklahoma, Wake has Baylor (another team that should be better this year). Maybe the ACC will prove me wrong. But the Big 12 is definitely deeper than two teams.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Is there a team in the Atlantic Division right now who you would say really has no chance of winning it? It seems to be a complete crapshoot.

Heather Dinich
  (2:40 PM)

It is anybody's game, and that's in both divisions. I thought BC would have the toughest time contending in the Atlantic, but Dave Shinskie could very well be the answer (seriously).

Alex (Miami, FL)

HD! I enjoyed the piece you wrote on Ponder. Do you see him being better this year? And what I mean by that is...Is he going to crack the top 10 of your top 30 players in the ACC

Heather Dinich
  (2:40 PM)

Christian? Is that you? :)

Fearless Freep (Richmond)

Who will have more yards and TDs this year - Darren Evans or Ryan Williams?

Heather Dinich
  (2:41 PM)

That is a great question, and one even the coaches don't know the answer to. Billy Hite told me those guys will determine who gets the ball more. They have different styles. I know Williams was great this spring, but I'm sticking with the veteran, Evans.

Stephen (Kittrell , NC)

Which division is going to be better in 09? Atlantic or Coastal.

Heather Dinich
  (2:42 PM)

Coastal. Even Virginia and Duke will better. There's been an infusion of good coaches in that division that has made it stronger.

Eric (Greenville, NC)

do you think Da'Norris Searcy can replace Trimmane Goddard or possibly be better?

Heather Dinich
  (2:43 PM)

Yeah, I spoke with Searcy and he's ready for a bigger role this fall. Better than Goddard though? Not sure.

Matt (Naples, FL)

If Miami gets off to a terrible start and strugles throughout the season, what do you think are the chances that Randy Shannon gets fired?

Heather Dinich
  (2:45 PM)

I don't think it's unreasonable to think Miami might struggle to start, but I don't think it will cost him his job. Kirby Hocutt knows Randy is changing the culture there. They haven't made too many headlines for off-field issues, unlike their Florida rival.

Heather Dinich
  (2:46 PM)

And that can either be FSU or Florida, take your pick.

Luke (TN)

Will Georgia Tech beat the Georgia Bulldogs this year?

Heather Dinich
  (2:48 PM)

Well, they did it last year and they've got them at home, so I don't see why not. Plus, Georgia won't have the superstars it had last year. I think the Bulldogs will have a better offensive line, though, and that's an area the Jackets need to improve.

Dabo (SC)

What chance do we, I mean Clemson, have at winning the Atlantic this year?

Heather Dinich
  (2:48 PM)

Jacoby Ford, C.J. Spiller, Da'Quan Bowers, Ricky Sapp ... the list goes on. There's enough talent on that roster to win the Atlantic.

whitney (tallahassee)

HD, what can either be FSU or Florida? that answer doesnt go with the question it was under

Heather Dinich
  (2:49 PM)

Sorry, I was continuing the previous answer. I meant that Miami has had less off-field issues than both Florida State and Florida.

Brian (Florida)

Which freshman will have the biggest impact this season?

Heather Dinich
  (2:50 PM)

That's a great question, and I'll assume you're talking ACC. I'm eager to see Joshua Adams at UNC. He's got a chance to do something there with so many wideouts being gone, but FSU will have a few true freshmen help, too.

Snyder (Jacksonville)

Do you think the ACC will be as bunched up this year as it was last, or do you think a couple teams will rise above the rest?

Heather Dinich
  (2:53 PM)

I'm excited to cover the league this year because it should be just as crazy as last. I really don't think the Hokies will escape unscathed, but we'll see.

Dave (Boston)

What are BC's chances of finishing .500 despite their obvious problems with a QB and the unfortunate Herzlich situation? Especially considering the fairly weak schedule.

Heather Dinich
  (2:54 PM)

My biggest hesititation in giving BC too much credit in the early power rankings was their lack of a leader at quarterback, but I really have a feeling Dave Shinskie can help them there. If he can, look out, because BC has one of the best o-lines in the ACC, running backs who are dependable, and one of the better secondaries in recent years. If they can solidify their front seven, they can contend.

girlcane (nyc)

If FSU loses Richardson to the MLB draft. Which i think is likely. How big of a loss do you think that is for their D?

Heather Dinich
  (2:55 PM)

I think they'll be OK without D'Vo. Mickey Andrews was pleased with the progress the secondary made this spring.

Brian (VA)

Does this crazy message board work or are you just ignoring me? :)

Heather Dinich
  (2:56 PM)

I'm sorry, did you say something?

SP (Greenville, NC)

Do you expect to see a balanced pass-run offense from the Hokies this season, or they'll still be a run-first team?

Heather Dinich
  (2:57 PM)

I think they'll pass the ball more, but they'll also go with their strength. Tyrod and the receivers made significant progress in the last few weeks of '08 and they should continue that.

Stephen (Kittrell , NC)

Can UNC win the ACC title this year?

Heather Dinich
  (2:58 PM)

If T.J. Yates stays healthy and they hang onto the ball, yes. They've got a great defense, but still need to make some strides in the running game and will obviously have to find some receivers, which I think they've started to do.

Brian (Florida)

Do you think Miami's offense will be able to average 35ppg this season?

Heather Dinich
  (3:00 PM)

They averaged about 27 last year under Patrick Nix, and I expect them to be even better under Whipple.

Adam (Centreville, VA)

Good Afternoon Heather. What are the Terps chances of winning their division this year?

Heather Dinich
  (3:00 PM)

I'll be honest. Not sure on my take on those guys yet. If they get the o-line together, they could be very good. New faces at linebacker, new d-coordinator, but lots of young talent. Should be in the mix.

Heather Dinich
  (3:01 PM)

OK that's it for me guys. I think Graham is up next.

Graham Watson
  (3:04 PM)

Hey all. Welcome to my 30 minutes of chat.

Rich (Calgary, Canada)

So Graham, BYU couldn't even crack your top 10 non-BCS team with the toughest non-conference schedules. Interesting. I know that OU is in a rebuilding year and FSU hasn't won a meaningful game in years. But you gotta give us credit for playing a powerhouse in USU. Right?

Graham Watson
  (3:08 PM)

I'm glad you asked this question (was waiting for it actually). If I say BYU has the toughest schedule, why wouldn't I also say that Tulsa has a tough schedule? It plays Oklahoma and Boise State, which will be ranked high than FSU? But look at the other teams on these schedules? Tulane and Utah State for BYU and New Mexico and Sam Houston State for Tulsa. Neither is even close to what teams such as ECU or FIU face this year. It's not even reall comparable to Miami (OH).

bob (greenville)

Who is the real play anyone anywhere anytime...ECU or Fresno...my lock is on ECU.

Graham Watson
  (3:09 PM)

Why can't it be both? I actually think Fresno State embodies it more (at least lately) because they travel across the country to play games (see Rutgers last year). ECU tends to stay in their area of the East Coast. However, I think both teams aren't afraid to play any of the big name teams.

devin (whitmore lake mi )

graham is ron english the right coach at eastren michigan

Graham Watson
  (3:11 PM)

I think he could be because he brings a defensive mindset to the program, something that's been missing for awhile. But I can't really answer that question without seeing him coach a game. He's got an uphill climb at EMU, but I don't see why, with his coaching background, he could lift that program up.

Jon'Tae (Ann Arbor)

Hey Graham do you see Central Michigan making any noise this year? They have winable games at Arizona and Michigan State (although they will be hard fought). They also have played over the last couple yrs Georgia, Clemson, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Kansas etc. so they know how to play the big boys. A legit qb in Lefevour, good running game and ok defense

Graham Watson
  (3:13 PM)

I like CMU to win the MAC West and possibly the MAC overall, though I think the East is going to be tougher than it was in the past. My concern with CMU is not the offense. I think Dan LeFevour, despite always picking on him, is a fantastic quarterback and he has a great supporting cast. but the defense, especially the secondary, is just brutal. I remember watching a couple CMU games last year and thinking that the secondary looked totally lost. That's what needs to improve for CMU to be a true contender this year.

Larry (NC)

Can ECU make it to a BCS bowl with one loss over an undefeated Boise?

Graham Watson
  (3:15 PM)

That's a really good question. I don't really know because if Boise is undefeated and beat ECU then the Broncos schedule would be upped because of ECU's success. It also depends on the nonconference schedule. This is really a voter conundrum.

Mark (Utah)

I think that Utah and BYU will be good this year but my bet is on TCU taking the conference championship. They should have beat Utah last year and they are going to be better this year. TCU, BYU, Utah will be the top three in that order. Do you agree?

Graham Watson
  (3:17 PM)

I've not been shy about my affinity for TCU this year. I think it is the best team in the MWC and probably among the non-AQs. That doesn't mean the Frogs will be the BCS buster, we saw last year what happens when you don't show up for just one game, but I do think its the Frogs' opportunity to lose.

Will J (Portland, OR)

Graham, you seem to have the toughest job of all the bloggers, who are you able to keep updated covering so many teams/leagues?

Graham Watson
  (3:18 PM)

It's tough, but I think it's gotten easier as I've familiarized myself with the teams, coaches, players, etc. I think this year the focus will be on the upper echelon of the group while still keeping an eye on what's going on with the bottom half. That will make for better coverage overall.

Jason F (Norman)

Tulsa vs OU... Better or worse than last time I was scared for a good quarter?

Cameron (Raleigh)

Which non aq teams has the loudest fans you have heard?

Graham Watson
  (3:22 PM)

I think the Utah game against TCU was the loudest I've heard. That night the fans were so loud they shook the press box.

Burr (Boca Raton)

Hi Graham. Do you think any of the incoming freshmen will have an impact at Notre Dame, or do they have sufficient depth? I can see Te'o getting some PT, but do you think anyone else will have a role?

Graham Watson
  (3:24 PM)

Probably Cierre Wood and the offensive linemen Chris Watt and Zack Martin. It wouldn't be surprising to see Shaq Evans participate, too.

Mark (Utah)

One more. I thought that it was in the works to get BSU over to the MWC soon. I know they must want out and it would help us get closer to becoming an AQ conference. Right?

Graham Watson
  (3:26 PM)

It was never in the works. It was just a widespread rumor. The Mountain West is the hot non-AQ conference right now, but a few years ago it was the WAC that was getting all the attention. These things fluctuate. There's no reason why teams such as Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii, etc., couldn't put together a nice run and be where the Mountain West was a year ago. It's cyclical and that's why the evaluation period is four years. Teams have to prove they have the staying power to earn an automatic bid.

sean (oklahoma)

Who do you think is going to win the BYU-OU game?

Graham Watson
  (3:26 PM)

OU.

peter (SC)

Graham, did you know that South Carolina and ECU will renew their series in 2011, im sure you are excited!

Graham Watson
  (3:28 PM)

I got a couple notes in my mailbag about that today. I didn't know that before I wrote the post. That will be a great series. I'm glad they're renewing it. By the way, don't forget to submit your fantasy non-AQ matchups to the mailbag for tomorrow's post!

Harry (Michigan)

Is Notre Dame gonna make a real schedule any time soon?

Graham Watson
  (3:29 PM)

I hope so. I miss the good Notre Dame games that were must-sees during the college football season. The only game I want to see this year is the Nevada game only because I think the Wolf Pack could pull off the upset.

Steve (Fresno)

Best non-BCS stadium/atmosphere belongs to...?

Graham Watson
  (3:30 PM)

I haven't been everywhere, but of the places I've been I was most impressed by Boise State. Utah was fun, too, but I kinda like how Boise State's fans color coordinate their stadium sections.

Graham Watson
  (3:31 PM)

OK. I gotta go. Not sure who's next, but I think it's Ted Miller. Take care everyone. And send your questions to the mailbag!

Ted
  (3:32 PM)

And... it is Ted Miller. I love that guy!Oh, wait. That's me. And, as some of you are about to tell me, I stink.Fire away.

Tim (Oakland)

If Cal gets consistant QB play do you think they win the pac 10?

Ted
  (3:34 PM)

Yep... When I look at that roster, I see a team with few holes. If Kevin Riley becomes the QB he should be, the Bears are a top-10 team and should challenge for the Rose Bowl..

Steve ((South Bend))

I was wondering what are your thoughts about the ND-USC game? Does ND have a shot or will they get blown away?

Ted
  (3:35 PM)

You know what they say? "On any given Saturday."But I'm not sure you'd stir up much action in Vegas with USC-ND as a pick 'em.And, gosh, that was a horrible butt kicking in LA this past season...

Ben (England)

Lets get straight to the point, how many TD's are the Oregon Ducks going to win the national championship game by?

Ted
  (3:36 PM)

Ben... I like your spunk, mate.

Tim (Texas)

Is vacating wins really a punishment? Alabama was already on probation, and now they get yet another slap on the hand. Seems like yet another example, of the NCAA taking care of the premier programs.

Ted
  (3:38 PM)

Did you see Saban's comment... he's looking forward. So, yeah, this one is a big 'who cares.' My guess is USC would be fine with giving back "wins" if that's what it comes down to with the Trojans and NCAA...

Mike (Seattle, WA)

Do you think those two early violations by Sark were just abberations or do you think he will be racking them up like his buddy Kiffin

Ted
  (3:40 PM)

Aberrations... He's a first-time head coach. Not an excuse but an explanation for cluelessness.And I'm not sure Sark and Kiffin are from the same mold in terms of personality...

Paul (Fresno, CA)

Who would win in a cage match? Taylor Mays or Tim Tebow?

Ted
  (3:41 PM)

Mays... but Tebow would surely talk Mays out of fighting and they'd then go build houses in the Philippines...And then, 40 years hence, president Tebow would make Mays secretary of defense...

Travis (San Diego)

Why is my question not being posted?

Ted
  (3:42 PM)

i don't know

Tim (Oakland)

Do you think the hammer will ever fall on USC's football program? They don't have a Tim Floyd to use as a scapegoat. Pete Carroll is the program

Ted
  (3:44 PM)

Trying to guess what the NCAA will do is a fool's errand. I'm sure something will happen to the football program... but whether any sanctions have real teeth -- scholarship losses, post-season bans, etc. -- I'm leaning toward no.

Joel (Tempe)

Hey Ted ?The Trojan? Miller,Why is it that Alabama gets in trouble when the kids get textbooks, but USC gets nothing when the kids get televisions and luxury homes? Should the South rise again and just start their own league free from yankee oppression?

Ted
  (3:45 PM)

You made me laff... thanks... I'd say the Trojans seem a lot smarter going for the luxury homes instead of the books...

Peter (Pennsylvania)

Who will win the Heisman next year?

Ted
  (3:46 PM)

Tebow

Travis (Sandy Eggo, CA)

Who gets drafted higher.... Mays or Berry?

Ted
  (3:47 PM)

That will be determined this year... both are amazing players who will be All-Pros.... They are different sorts of athletes. Mays is a Ronnie Lott sort and Berry is more Ed Reed.

Tim (Oakland)

Am I crazy or is the Pac 10 underrated this year with 3 potential top 10 teams? Why only SEC and Big 12 talk around the nation?

Ted
  (3:50 PM)

Tim you are completely crazy.The Pac-10 does have three potential top-10 teams, but the early nonconference games will determine whether the conference re-enters the national dialogue. The SEC and Big 12 are getting talked about because the Gators are the overwhelming preseason No. 1 -- and rightfully so -- and Oklahoma and Texas are clear national title contenders.

Tim (Oakland)

Is Jahvid Best the best running back that Cal has had in the Tedford era?

Ted
  (3:51 PM)

Tim... you ask a lot of questions.Some guy named Marshawn was pretty good too, but Best could move to the front of the line with a big season...

Andy (Roseville)

Ted, can we expect to see College Game Day in Berkeley Oct 3rd against USC?

Ted
  (3:53 PM)

I don't make that call... but if both teams are undefeated...

Chris (Concord, CA)

What kind of season do you think Oregon will have, as they deal with a tough schedule and a new head coach?

Ted
  (3:55 PM)

This is for you too Seattle-Chris with your question about the Ducks O-line... because that's the linchpin of this team... don't worry about Chip Kelly as a new coach... the issue is how quickly the offensive line develops chemistry. Replacing two NFL draft picks isn't easy.Of course, we'll get a good sense early, with the Ducks opening at Boise State and then playing Utah in game three.

Nick (Florida)

Who is the best Pac 10 player that we have never heard of but will become a household name? Who is the best player in the nation (other than Pac 10) that the we have not heard of, but will become a household name?

Ted
  (3:57 PM)

Stephen Paea... DT Oregon StateStephen Paea... DT Oregon State

Kirk (Twin Cities)

In your opinion, is it just a matter of time before Barkley unseats Corp in the land of Troy?

Ted
  (3:59 PM)

At this point, I'd say no, but it's obvious that Barkley made a huge impression in spring. My guess is I'll be in LA for a preseason scrimmage or two, so I'll get a better feel for this later.And, obviously, if Corp starts slowly, well that opens a door..

Pete Carroll (The Beach)

Why is it that, despite the fact I show mercy and let the little guy win once a year, the voters never show me any mercy and let me go beat the crap out of someone in the NC game?

Ted
  (4:01 PM)

I don't know Pete... it's a tough world out there... but, to take a page out of your philosophy book: If you'd just Win Forever, this wouldn't be an issue...

Ted
  (4:01 PM)

Folks... got to head back to the salt mine... thanks for stopping by...