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December 30, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Hello, everybody. I'm coming to you live from New Orleans. I'll take a break from eating all this great food to answer your questions for the next hour, so fire away.

schuyler (louisville)

how does the Cincinnati defense match up with the Florida offense? Also, does Charlie strong coaching in the Sugar bowl affect Louisville in anyway, positive or negative?

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

If the Cincinnati defense plays like it did the last month, it won't be much of a matchup at all. The Bearcats should be concerned about that big offensive line of Florida and the running game. If they can keep Tebow in the pocket, they'll have a better chance.

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

As far as Strong, I think it can only help Louisville. He'll get some publicity during the game telecast that recruits will see, and he has also had a few weeks to scout a future Big East rival.

Peter (Stamford, CT)

Brian - with the season almost over, who is your early pick as Big East favorite for 2010? I think Pitt will be preseason #1 with Rutgers right behind them.

Brian Bennett
  (4:05 PM)

I think there's a good chance Pittsburgh will be preseason favorites for the second straight year. Cincinnati should be right in that mix, along with UConn and West Virginia. I think Rutgers is two years away.

Aaron (Cleveland)

What do you think of the Tar Heels loss to Pitt? Sure it was a loss but a lot closer than most people though, right?

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

I always expected that game to be close. Two well-matched teams with similar strengths.

Paul (Louisville, KY)

Why doesn't the league allow Louisville & Cincinnati to play the last game of the season? The Big East keeps forcing us to play Rutgers, but they're not a natural rival.

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

The Big East tries to schedule so that the top projected contenders play on the last weekend. In the last two years, Louisville hasn't been good enough to earn a spot on the final weekend. There are no definite weekends carved out for rivalries in this league.

Mike (Storrs, CT)

Brian, what do you think the reaction would be if the Big East started out 1-3 in the bowls?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

I assume you're making a swipe at the ACC, and rightly so. That league tanks time and time again in the postseason yet somehow escapes the withering criticism that's often thrown the Big East's way. I don't know why that is.

Roller (Kentucky)

Looks like Cinci. should've waited and they could have taken a run at a real coach in Leach!

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

I don't think Cincinnati is unhappy with its decision.

Logical USF Fan (FL)

the later the bowl the more prestigious right, so International Bowl isnt so bad?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

I'm waiting for the media guide pronouncement saying that the Bulls made a January bowl game. Seriously, though, how many people will be in the stands for this one? 2,000?

Conner (Louisville, Ky)

What do you think of Charlie Strong's recruiting efforts so far? He seems to already be bringing in some quality players, and he's only doing it part time while getting Florida ready for the Sugar Bowl! I can't wait till that game is over and he hits the recruiting trail full time! GO Cards!

Brian Bennett
  (4:14 PM)

I saw where Strong got a big-time receiver out of Miami. He is going to get a lot of players out of Florida, which is something Steve Kragthorpe could never do. Strong should be an excellent recruiter, which is just what Louisville needs because its talent level desperately needs an upgrade.

john (cincinnati)

brian, have you had a chance to talk to big east commish marinatto about a possible cfb playoff? wondering what his thoughts are since cincinnati was left out of title game? one might assume that the big east and mwc would join previous conference commissioners (sec) in pushing for a playoff.

Brian Bennett
  (4:16 PM)

I asked Marinatto at the Pitt game whether Cincinnati's situation would make him campaign for a playoff. He is not a playoff proponent in any sense.

Jim (WI)

Is the Gator Bowl will be a blow out or a close one?

Brian Bennett
  (4:17 PM)

I think it will be fairly close. Florida State will be inspired and has enough talent to play with anybody. And when was the last time West Virginia blew out a decent team?

Zach (Kalamazoo, MI)

Do you think Notre Dame will win immediatatley with Brian Kelley or do you think it will take a few years as he changes the offense?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

It rarely takes long for Kelly to win at a new place. The schedule is manageable next year, and there is talent on hand despite the losses of Clausen and Tate. I'm not saying 10-2 next season, but I expect better than 6-6.

Jason (FL)

Does WVU really need Noel Devine and Jock Sanders to come back next year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

I think the Mountaineers could survive the loss of Sanders a lot better than Devine. They'll still have some good running back prospects, like Rodgers and Austin. But I haven't seen anyone on that roster with the game-breaking potential like Devine.

Walt (DC)

With the Texas Tech story all over the news will it bring further heat to Jim Leavit and his allegations

Brian Bennett
  (4:23 PM)

That's an interesting question. We have now had two coaches fired -- Leach and Kansas' Mark Mangino -- after allegations of shoddy treatment of players. So clearly that's in the spotlight. The difference is that Leavitt has had one allegation made public through the media, which the player and his family almost immediately recanted. Unless others come forward or the school finds enough credible evidence in its investigation to warrant a move, it seems like it would be awfully hard to fire Leavitt.

john (cincinnati)

thanks for the feedback brian...did commish give any reason why he is against playoff?

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

The Big East's official position is that it likes the current BCS system. I think that, given the league's at times precarious grip on an automatic bid, it doesn't want to say anything to upset the apple cart.

Jason (Bmore)

I'm a Pitt fan, but how can they be possibly ranked #1 in the preseason when they don't even have an established QB. Does it speak to the rest of the conference, but Pitt's other skill positions?

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

If you'll recall, Pitt was the preseason favorite this year despite heavy questions about Bill Stull and concerns that he wouldn't even be the starter. Quarterback will be a big question mark for the Panthers in 2010, though, for sure.

Mike (Storrs, CT)

In the Papajohn's bowl, do you anticipate a high or low scoring affair? And which type of game does UConn have a better chance of winning?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

I'm not sure UConn can win without scoring a lot of points because its defense has been so bad late in the year. The Huskies were really rolling offensively late in the year. I expect it to be somewhere in the high 20s, at least.

Andrew (California)

Do you think any Big East coaches will be considered for the Texas Tech job?? I'm tired of other conferences poaching our good coaches.

Brian Bennett
  (4:31 PM)

I don't see any Big East coaches who would be a fit there or have any strong ties to Texas.

pookybear (Des Moines)

Indianapolis Colts game this past weekend....isn't that a major reason why a playoff would be bad in college?

Brian Bennett
  (4:33 PM)

I think you'd have the problem of teams resting players and not caring about winning late-season games if you had a large playoff bracket of, say, 16. I think it should be a four-team playoff. Competition for those spots would be so intense that teams could not take a week off, and even after clinching a spot there would be seeding at stake. The regular season would not lose any luster that way.

Adam (Cincinnati)

Even though most Bearcats players have talked about the coaching situation as 'not a big deal' and helping the players bond and focus on the game, how do you think the coaching carousel actually affects the team?

Brian Bennett
  (4:35 PM)

It's the kind of thing you can only really know by being in the locker room. I believe the biggest effect is probably on the coaching staff. So many of those guys have had to worry about where their next job is going to be that it has had to be a distraction of some sort. Once the players get back on the field to practice, I think they're in a comfort zone. The Bearcats are saying all the right things, but we won't know for sure until Friday night.

Aaron (Cleveland)

I've heard some people thinking that Charlie Weiss may end up at Florida. I think thats ridiculous, though. Any thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

Weis will almost certainly end up back in the NFL, not college.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

With their well-documented money woes, did Cincy ever consider playing at the Bengals Stadium (like Pitt does at Heinz) rather than expanding Nippert, then converting / using Nippert as its practice facility? And using the savings to retain their coaching staff?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

Cincinnati doesn't want to give up the campus setting, not too mention whatever rent it would cost them to play at Paul Brown. Salary alone wasn't going to keep Kelly at Cincinnati, anyway.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

Why does BEast continue to insist only CFB teams which are BCS-ready on Day One are worthy expansion candidates? USF, UConn and Cincy weren't "BCS worthy" last time (but fast-forward, now they are). Doesn't a big-school hot-market team (UCF for example) offer equal potential, maybe more? And don't forget: if there are no worthy teams now, then a new eighth CFB team ? added as an emergency replacement after the Big-10(11)'s raid ? won't be instantly BCS-ready either. So why not be proactive?

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

The difference that in 2005 the Big East had little choice but to take on some emerging teams. It doesn't have to go that route now, necessarily. And don't forget the 16-team basketball alignment is already unwieldy before you consider adding new schools.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

BB, don't forget that Pitt DC Bennett was head coach at SMU, wants to go back to Texas for family reasons. Sez here he'll be a finalist candidate.

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

True. I figured the earlier question was about head coaches. I'm not sure Tech would go that route anyway. Seems like they will want to keep an offensive philosophy, but I'm just speculating here. Keep an eye on Bennett (great name, by the way) because he could indeed look to get closer to home.

Mike (Storrs, CT)

Andre Dixon, Marcus Easley, Mike Hicks, Lindsay Witten, Reggie McClain, and Robert Vaughn. Who will be the hardest to replace in 2010?

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

I'd say Easley, even though he was a walk-on before the spring. He is UConn's only real big-play threat at receiver, and as of yet no one has stepped forward to claim that role for next year. Maybe Difton will, but he'll have to improve greatly. UConn has capable replacements on hand for the others.

megan (ohio)

enjoy n'awlins!! eat some crawfish pie 4 me!!!

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

Thanks, Megan. I had some excellent alligator sausage cheesecake last night.

Adam (Cincinnati)

Do most Big East players and coaches recognize you as being from ESPN's college football blog now it has had time to establish itself?

Brian Bennett
  (4:49 PM)

I hope so, though I look a little better in person than I do in my ugly mug shot.

Conner (Louisville, Ky)

What are the chances Louisville doesn't come in last in the big east next year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Technically, the Cardinals didn't come in last this year since they beat Syracuse. It's going to be tough in 2010, though. There just isn't much talent there. Syracuse and Louisville should once again battle for the cellar.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

What do you think the chances are of Greg Romeus returning next season, especialy after having a strong Bowl Game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

I can't claim to know exactly what he is thinking at the moment. He is raw and could use another year in school, but he's also a tremendous athlete with so much upside. If he gets a favorable NFL evaluation, he may have to go.

Mary R (WV)

What are you doing for New Years?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

I'm sure I can find a bar that's open somewhere in New Orleans tomorrow night.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

Four-team playoffs are fine unless you're #5 like, say Cincy or TCU or Boise or... . THAT is the main problem (plus teams will play noooobodies to get it, unless the NCAA does scheduling like the NFL does). Never happen.

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

But think about a four-team playoff this year: Alabama vs. TCU, Cincinnati vs. Texas in round 1. Sure, Boise State would be mad, but its schedule was too weak anyway.

Rob (New Olreans)

Brain, have you been to Port-of-Call yet? Best burgers and specialty drinks in the Big Easy. Don't forget Liuzza's too, best fried dill pickles, and onion rings in town. Have a great time!

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

We went to Port of Call my first night here. Maybe the biggest burger I've ever eaten, and certainly one of the best.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Is it logical to think either Dion Lewis or Jonathan Baldwin will be on the Heisman watch when the 2010 campaign begins?

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

I think Lewis will definitely be on some watch lists. It's too hard for a receiver to win the Heisman.

Daniel (Walkersville, MD)

Who starts next year for WVU Brunetti or Geno?

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

Hard for me to give too much of an opinion on Barry Brunetti since he's still in high school, but I know the staff really likes Geno Smith. I'd be surprised if Smith wasn't the starter for West Virginia at QB

Travis C. (Lake Highlands)

Would Mike Leach be a good fit in the Big East? It seems like the snobby Big 10 schools wouldn't hire such a loose cannon, the SEC would consider him a gimmick coach, so it has to be either the Big East or Pac 10 for Leach, right?

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

A guy who has a reputation, fairly or unfairly, of being difficult for an administration to work with, along with allegations of player abuse, is probably going to have a hard time finding a head coaching job in a major conference right away. We'll see what happens with Mangino and Leach, but my bet is neither will be BCS head coaches in the near future.

PJ (Boston)

Is Randy Edsell at UConn for good, or is some big program going to snatch him?

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

I don't think it's safe to say any coach, other than Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno, is ever at a school "for good."

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

Thanks for the questions, everybody. I've got to get back to work now. Enjoy all the bowl games this weekend.