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April 28, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everybody. Let's get this thing going and talk some football.

Dave (Charlotte, NC)

Say Pitt and Rutgers agree to join the Big Ten in 2013. Then a couple months later, WVU, Louisville, UConn, and Syracuse join the ACC for 2013. Then assume the Big East football conference folds. Under this scenario:1. Would the 6 defecting teams still owe the exit fee? If so, would the Big Ten defector money be split by the other 6 teams; and the ACC money be split by the 2 remaining teams? Do the basketball schools get any of this money? (seems like a mess and a lawsuit waiting to happen)2. Do you think the Big East would fold immediately (allowing the 6 schools in question to begin play in 2011 in their new conference), or would the Big East play 2 lame duck seasons?

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

Those are some good questions, but there are a lot of what-ifs in there that we just can't possibly answer right now. I do think the Big East will continue to exist in some form, whether it's just a basketball league or a non-BCS conference or whatever, in your scenario. And you're right that this stuff would probably all end up in the hands of lawyers.

Aaron (NYC)

I was unable to make it the Rutgers spring game, but from the Savage's stats I say he had a mediocre performance. Us RU fans feel that he is primed for a breakthrough season, what are your thoughts about Tom Savage in 2010?

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

He should have a good year because he's a year older and the receivers are better. The problem is whether that offensive line can keep him upright. That will be a big question until September.

Grant (Syracuse NY)

Brian, What is your opinion on syracuse being the last team to still not fill out there 12th game for 2010?

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

I don't understand what the holdup is. By all accounts, it looks like it will be a home game against an FCS opponent, which would give the Orange two of those. But for a team that needs to get back on the winning track, I'm OK with that as a one-year fix. Syracuse is known for playing very tough schedules.

james (chicago)

you think that nate montana's b/g game performance is indicative of a qb battle? or is that just out of the question?

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

It was nice to see Nate have a good game, but I don't put much stock in quarterbacks' spring game numbers. I think Dayne Crist is solidly the No. 1 QB there, and I wouldn't be surprised, frankly, to see one of the freshmen emerge as the No. 2 guy.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

Love the BEast Blog, in which today I noticed you listed a new bowl in the league?s portfolio: the "Beef 'O' Brady?s Bowl." Never heard of it, which I presume means (a) it's brand-new, and (b) replaces the International Bowl. Where is it?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

That's the old St. Petersburg Bowl, Terry.

Jacob (Nebraska)

All the expansion talk annoys me so lets actually talk football. Can USF make a run at the Big East and/or a BCS game? They have lots of talent and speed.

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Amen, Jacob. The Bulls have enough talent to make a run, but given how young they're going to be on defense, a lack of proven playmakers at wide receiver and in the first year of a coaching transition, I have a hard time believing 2010 is their year.

Chris (DC)

I really wish I could take credit for this:"Rutgers first football game as a member of the Big Ten should be against Minnesota in Piscataway. They can play for the 'Long Island Guy' trophy. This would be a gold statue depicting a man vaguely resembling Paul Tagliabue waving a right-handed fist while holding a tennis racket in his left hand. The final score of each game of the series will be engraved on the statue's backside."

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

That's funny.

Nick (Cincinnati)

Would the development of a Big East Network help keep schools in the Big East? Keep in mind that it would bring in much more money if it broadcast BBall games as well as football games.

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

It's something the league will explore. I don't think it could make anywhere near as much money as the Big Ten Network, however. Big East football is not as valuable of a product.

joe (charleston)

hey Brian, thanks for all the great coverage. my question is, do you think ND's offense will be a work in progress as the year goes on or will they be ready come time purdue then michigan?

Brian Bennett
  (4:17 PM)

Offense is usually not a problem with Brian Kelly teams, and given how much talent is on that side of the ball, I think the Irish will score points. The question is whether they can stop anybody.

Steve (Carlisle)

Are you going to the WV spring game friday night? If so, what in particular are you looking forward to seeing? Also any expectations from the offensive line?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

No, Steve, spring games are bad for my health. Seriously, it's little more than an exhibition for the fans, usually, with very vanilla defenses and offensive game plans. About all I would look for is how Geno Smith is moving around.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

As a seasoned Pitt fan, it's never too soon to panic about my teams. Thus, I wasn't too impressed with either QB during Pitt's Spring Game. Nerves? Inexperience that'll get fixed in summer camp? Or are we in trouble at this vital position? Hopefully not the latter, as I think we're loaded everywhere else.

Brian Bennett
  (4:20 PM)

See my answer to Steve's question. I'm not worried at all about Pitt's quarterbacks. I'm worried about center and right guard, though.

Tom (CT)

Is it really liklely that the Big Ten wouldn't invite Uconn because they aren't in the AAU? Notre Dame isnt in the AAU and the Big Ten has been trying to add Notre DAme for years. Also, if AAU schools are the only schools being mentioned then the Big Ten search should also include the Univ. of Buffalo and Stony Brook, because they just have to be better schools that Uconn if they are in the AAU (even though they considerably lag behind Uconn in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings).

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

It's a weird thing. All the Big Ten schools are in the AAU and it's a matter of pride for the academic side. But when it comes down to it, the league is going to take whoever it thinks can help make more money while being at least a reasonable fit.

Rodney (NYC)

Aside from Syracuse and Louisville, would you be surprised if any other team won the league title this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:24 PM)

I'd be mildly surprised if either USF or Rutgers won the league, just because they're both so young. But it wouldn't stun me.

Greg (Washington, DC)

I've thought about it a lot, and I don't see any way to adequately schedule a 16 team conference w/o expanding the number of games or almost entirely cutting out nonconference games. With two eight-team divisions, each team would play the seven other teams in its division every year. That leaves five games to play the remaining eight members of the conference. The only feasible options are playing four of those teams every other year, or two of those teams every fourth year. But the first option leaves only one nonconference game a year, and the second option is just madness. That would mean, say, Ohio State would visit the Carrier Dome in an expanded Big Ten once every eight years! Why is a 16 team conference even an option?

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

Well, clearly there wouldn't be a full round-robin schedule. Most likely, a team would play its seven division opponents and one game against the other division. But if you're not even seeing seven whole teams from your league, do you even feel like you're in the same conference?

Mark (Hershey, PA)

From what you saw at spring practice, do you think Henry Hynoski will play a larger role in the offense in terms of carries? It seems he has a pretty unique skill set and could be helpful, but will there be many carries left after Dion and Graham get their fair share?

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

I know Pitt's coaches love Hynoski and he can definitely do some things, especially in short yardage and out of the backfield. Maybe he can even be like an H-back. But when you have Lewis and Graham and Baldwin, there are only so many other touches to go around.

Terry (the 'Burgh)

Point of Order: unless I'm mistaken, The Big-10 Network doesn't show CFB games (or hoops either), it shows mostly infomercials for the colleges and legacy games (read: drivel). Its CFB & MBB games are on ESPN

Brian Bennett
  (4:28 PM)

You are, in fact, mistaken.

Steve (Atlantic City)

I read the big east blog every day and you keep me sane while there is no football. Thank you. I digress, I'm a WVU fan and the question in my mind is if the Big East is left for dead what would be the likelyhood of WVU as an SEC member as opposed to an ACC member?

Brian Bennett
  (4:31 PM)

WVU would fit with either league. However, I think if the SEC decides to expand, its first calls would be to Florida State, Miami, Clemson and Texas. So West Virginia seems more likely to be an ACC replacement team.

Chris (Piscataway)

Brian, by a lot of accounts, the RU O-Line actually played okay in the spring game. Is this true? If so, is it heartening considering they were missing 3 potential starters?

Brian Bennett
  (4:33 PM)

They should have played well since the defense wasn't blitzing. It's not hard to block that way. Still doesn't answer much.

Dave (Charlotte, NC)

How many years do you think Wannstadt has left in him? Does he have a hand-picked replacement in mind?

Brian Bennett
  (4:35 PM)

It's a good question, because this is definitely Wannstedt's last job. He's not going to coach as long as Paterno, either. He turns 58 next month. I could see him doing it another five years or so, unless he feels like he's gotten Pitt to where it needs to be. He'd be great in TV if he wanted to do that.

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

Oh, and Frank Cignetti Jr. is a guy that Pitt could possibly groom to take over.

Chris (DC)

Who could potentially be the biggest loser after expansion is finished? I'm thinking it's between UCONN and Cinci if either of them are left out of a BCS conference: UCONN upgraded its facilities to get into the FBS, only to see the Big East crumble a few years later; Cinci by luck gets into a BCS conference, only to be the potential unwanted redheaded step child and be forced to be religated back to non-AQ status

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

Add in USF to that list, and you've got it.

Greg (Washington, DC)

Brian, do you think it's possible for Syracuse to win six games this season? Assuming its 12th game is FCS, it has three should-wins (Maine and Akron being the other two). Maybe they could beat Louisville, UConn, and then BC at home? If they do, could they get picked for a bowl game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

I do think it's possible. How's this for six wins: Maine, Akron, TBA FCS school, Louisville, Boston College (at home on Senior Day) and one other win somewhere. Doesn't that sound manageable?

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which College Football teams do you think will play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30?

Matt (MA)

I get that the Irish D gets picked on after their collapse last year but they are starting all juniors or above besides Teo and everyone was highly recruited. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that with a new scheme and confidence they could be a top 20 D, is it?

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Rutgers and somebody from the Big 12.

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Top 20 sounds a little too bold. Even if the Irish could field a Top 40 or Top 50 type defense, that would help them win a lot of games.

Dave (Pittsburgh)

BB, I saw in yesterday's mailbag you opined that Cincinnati had the best WR corps in the BE. How can you pick them over Pitt. Frankly, I think Cincinnati's WR are overrated. With BK to Notre Dame, I think they will not even be bowl eligible this season.

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

I'd take Baldwin over anybody. But I'll take Binns, Hazelton and Woods over any trio in the Big East. All you have to do is watch them in practice to see they're legit.

Dean (Frankfort, Ky)

There is a lot of excitement for UofL football with Charlie Strong's hire. Do you think he can get the Cards back to bowl game this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

That's an awfully tall order in Year One. Talent's just not there. But he'll get them back in a hurry.

jake (cali)

Who is rutgers starting RB game 1?

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

I'm betting Martinek will start, but one of the freshmen like Deering could be pushing for playing time quickly.

Dave (Charlotte, NC)

How does the Big East's Liberty Bowl agreement work? Are they a backup team? Or is this more of a handshake agreement with PapaJohns's Bowl to get the best match-ups?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

It's more of a handshake agreement to create the best matchups. Gives the Big East a chance to avoid a potential bad matchup if the SEC doesn't have enough teams.

Sammy (Columbus)

If two of your six wins are against FCS teams, then you're not bowl-eligible.

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

That's true. I was just answering if Syracuse could get to 6 wins. That in itself would be an accomplishment.

Dave (Charlotte, NC)

Any truth that ESPN is thinking of expanding the Big Ten blog to 2 bloggers? If you are chosen as the 2nd blogger, what will happen to the Big East blog?

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

We're actually going to 16 Big Ten bloggers. (Joking, of course).

Trips (DubVee)

BB, long live the BE blog! Hopefully it will be around for a long time, I love this conference. I really want to see Coley White play some QB, what do you think his chances are if he doesn't get moved to the slot and continues to outperform Geno?

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

Coley's had a good spring, but this is Geno Smith's team. I think you'll see White being used in the slot, maybe in special packages, but more of an emergency quarterback.

chris (East Hartford )

What is your opinion on UCONNs wide recievers? And what can you tell me about the team the Big House will feature this year? Will they be any good?

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

The UConn receivers have a lot of speed, not a lot of size. You're better off visiting Adam Rittenberg's chat later this week for Michigan info.

Rodney (NYC)

Is there reason to be concerned about some of the BE defenses? Will Pitt, UConn and Cincy be better defensively? Last year it seemed like they could score at will and be scored on at will. Is that the key to winning the conference this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

There's reason to be concerned about Cincinnati and about UConn's secondary. I think Pitt will be fine on defense. Cincinnati got away with winning shootouts at the end of last year, but it's hard to keep that up consistently.

Mack (Raleigh, NC)

How much does this year's performance matter for the Big Ten "candidates"? Does it matter how Rutgers does due to their proximity to NYC? Can Pitt play its way in?

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

The Big Ten should be smarter than basing its decision off one year's results. But it's human nature to remember the most recent thing you've seen more vividly. So it certainly can't hurt anyone's case.

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

That's all my time for this week, folks. Thanks for all the questions.