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May 5, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everybody. I wrapped up the spring in the Big East today on the blog, and now it's your turn to talk about it. What questions, concerns, ideas do you have about your teams after seeing/hearing about them this spring? Fire away for the next hour.

Eric (Tampa, FL)

In Tampa there is quite a bit of excitement as Skip Holtz takes over, but nationally, it seems that nobody is really watching. This is surprising for a team that has such a promising future. Is it because Leavitt has left the cupboard bare this year or is it a response to the let down people have come to expect from USF every year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:02 PM)

I don't know that I'd agree that no one is watching. Holtz got a lot of publicity this spring. I think it's more that this is a young team this year, and it will have to prove itself. But a lot of people feel this program could explode soon

Jordan (Pittsburgh)

Tell me something to temper my feelings of how good this Pitt team can be.. other than who's going to play RG and C. The offense is so loaded.. Lewis and Graham(or even Burns who could start elsewhere) w/Hynoski leading behind Pinkston, Jacobson, or Nix.. Sunseri(who is above avg. in mobility should things break down) throwing to Baldwin, Shanahan, Street(who has the ability to be the next great Pitt WR,) Cross, Saddler, Cruz and the 2nd TE.. The Def is probably the weak link(can't believe I said that about a Wannstedt team.) Sheard and Romeus are studs. Caragein, Alecxih, and Ezell(kid's a beast) at DT. Mason, Gruder and hopefull anyone other than G.Williams at LB. The safeties will be good no matter which 2 of the 3 play.. The corners will be a little shaky, specifically whoever starts opposite Reed.. When I look at the 2-deep I see a 1 or 2 loss Big East Champion.. So give me something to dampen my outlook.. That way, I won't be devastated when they inexplicably lose to an inferior team.. Thank You once again and sorry for the length

Brian Bennett
  (3:04 PM)

That was an awfully long question, so here's a short answer: the interior O-line and a lack of depth there, like you said, and a tough schedule. Other than that, plenty of reason for optimism.

Walt (DC)

Any indication if Heastie or Long have attempted to come back to the program? What do you think the run/pass ratio will be this year for the Mounties?

Brian Bennett
  (3:07 PM)

No, they were each granted their release. As far as run/pass, this staff has made it clear they're going to try and stretch the field. But with an exceptionally talented backfield, I would hope they lean heavily in favor of the run game, especially with a young QB

Steve (Mechanicsburg )

Who do you think has the best Linebacker core in the Big East, and clarify why you feel that way

Brian Bennett
  (3:09 PM)

I'd probably give the edge to UConn, just because of Wilson and Lutrus, though there's not much depth behind them. WVU and Syracuse have to be up there too. And South Florida's is young but potentially really good.

Michael (Louisville)

How would say the player' attitudes are at Louisville following the hiring of Charlie Strong and with spring practice under their belts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:12 PM)

I get the sense that the players really like and believe in him, even though he and his staff are tough on them. Those national championship rings buy you some instant credibility. Attitude won't be a problem; talent will.

Lee (Dayton)

What's your take on Randy Edsall's "all in or all out" comment about Notre Dame? Is he really speaking for all the Big East football coaches? Any sense the conference leaders in Providence are receptive?

Brian Bennett
  (3:14 PM)

I can see where he's coming from. How would you feel if a team not even in your league could take away a hard-earned bowl bid? Still, every sense I've gotten from Providence is that they love having Notre Dame as a partner and are in no hurry to end that relationship.

daniel (walkersville, MD)

Is Tevita Fineau in Morgantown and in school/on the team? And with the addition of Bruce Irvin is West Virginia's D-Line the best in the conferance?

Brian Bennett
  (3:16 PM)

Oh, Tevita Finau. I'm not sure he ever even existed. I think he's the Sidd Finch of the Big East. West Virginia's line should be awfully good, but I think that honor still belongs to Pittsburgh.

Adam (Cincinnati)

In the event that Cincinnati runs the table once again (no matter how unlikely) do you think that could lead quarterback Zach Collaros to bring a Heisman to Cincinnati? He put up Big East record numbers in his 3rd career start. He also has Binns, Woods, Hazelton, Thompkins, Barnett, Howard, Guidugli, and Robinson to help him out as well as Pead, Williams, and Goebel to stand next to him. With all the offensive explosiveness at his fingertips he should be able to make it into Heisman discussion, at least.

Brian Bennett
  (3:18 PM)

Winning the Heisman is just so hard to do any more when you're not at a "name" school. Cincinnati would have to go 12-0 again. To put Heisman expectations on Collaros is unfair, since he's in his first year of full time starting and working in a new system.

Brian Bennett
  (3:18 PM)

Winning the Heisman is just so hard to do any more when you're not at a "name" school. Cincinnati would have to go 12-0 again. To put Heisman expectations on Collaros is unfair, since he's in his first year of full time starting and working in a new system.

Jordan (Pittsburgh)

With Dom DeCicco and Andrew Taglianetti coming back soon(maybe they already are,) what do you think Pitt's secondary will look like? Jarred Holley looked great last year so there's no way he's not starting.. Thanks

Brian Bennett
  (3:21 PM)

There should be a pretty solid rotation at safety. Of bigger concern is cornerback, though Antwuan Reed looks like he nailed down one of those jobs. It will probably be Saheed Imoru or Buddy Jackson at the other spot.

Brad (Morgantown)

I'm not exactly sold yet on Geno Smith. What kind of year do you expect him to have?? Do you think they will run the ball more than ever this year?? Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (3:23 PM)

I like Smith. The kid is incredibly poised, smart and has a big arm. He just needs to get healthy. As long as he avoids mistakes, he'll be just fine.

Chris (Orlando)

If the Big Ten eventually takes a team from the Big East, do you think there is a good chance the Big East will go after Central Florida??

Brian Bennett
  (3:25 PM)

Absolutely. The Knights would be at the top of the list right now.

Noel Devine (West Virginia)

There's only one legitimate preseason canidate for the Heisman in the Big East right?

Brian Bennett
  (3:27 PM)

You seem to be forgetting about Dion Lewis.

andrew (california)

Big East has great ooc games against ranked opponents early.pitt-utah, pitt-miami, wvu-lsu, cinci-okyhomey, rut-NC, usf-florida, lville-oregon st. I say the big east goes 5-2 in these early games, what do you think?

Brian Bennett
  (3:30 PM)

If the Big East goes 5-2 in those, it's going to be a banner year. I think 2-5 is more likely than 5-2. Louisville and South Florida aren't winning those games, and WVU and Cincinnati have major challenges on their hands.

Adam N (Cincinnati, OH)

Brian,How much of Cincinnati's defensive issues in 2009 were due to Bob Diaco's 3-4 scheme and how much was due to players not being tough enough?

Brian Bennett
  (3:33 PM)

I don't think it was the scheme. I think it was the personnel. Cincinnati just didn't have enough size and strength up front. I mean, the Bearcats were using a 260-pound backup nose guard, a 220-pound outside linebacker, and another outside backer who could barely practice late in the year.

Sarah (Ny, Ny)

These Cincy fans are getting a little crazy. Callaros has four games (not including games where he came in as the victory cigar) under his belt, three of which were against terrible defenses. Now they want him to win the Heisman. Isn't that at all absurd to you?

Brian Bennett
  (3:35 PM)

I agree, Sarah. The only thing that makes it not utterly absurd is that he is probably going to put up huge numbers in Butch Jones' system.

Conner (Louisville, Ky)

What are the chances of the Cards opening the season 3-0?

Brian Bennett
  (3:36 PM)

Zero percent. Louisville might be able to upset Kentucky in the opener, but it's not going to win at Oregon State in Week 3.

Steven (California)

Hey Brian, what Big East school and city do you most like visiting?

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

In the winter months, that trip to Tampa is always welcomed. I always have a good time in Pittsburgh. And anytime I can swing a NYC trip out of Rutgers, that's pretty spectacular.

Marc (Morgantown)

Do you think Robert Sands has a shot at defensive player of the year and a lucrative NFL career?

Brian Bennett
  (3:40 PM)

Yes on both counts. It's hard for safeties to win that award because they don't often have a lot of counting stats the voters like, but Sands is a beast and a rising superstar.

Chris (tampa)

Brian, what do you think USF's chances are of have a 1,000 yard rusher this year, and I'm not talking about our QB?

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

Not very good. I don't see either Plancher or Murray being a 1,000-yard, workhorse type of back on his own. And Daniels will carry it a lot. I see more of a committee approach, but maybe the backs combined will handle a much bigger load.

Jack (New Brunswick NJ)

RU vs a preseason top 25 UNC. What do we need to win this game?

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

Well, the offensive line is going to have to play brilliantly, because the Tar Heels defense is absolutely loaded with future pros. The Rutgers defense should be able to hold down a mediocre UNC offense.

Jordan (Pittsburgh)

Where would you rank Pitt's backfield tandem? Off the top of my head, the only one better is Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram down in Tuscaloosa.. Oh, and Va. Tech has a pretty good backfield.

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

I wouldn't rank it above either Alabama or Va Tech because Graham hasn't proved a whole lot yet. But if he gets going like he's capable of doing, and that line comes together, the sky's the limit.

Tony (Pittsburgh)

With pretty much all the coaches agreeing that Pitt is the most talented team in the conference and has been for the past few years, is it critical that they win the Big East outright and make it to a BCS game? If they don't what do you think the reaction will be from the administration?

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

Critical? Nah. Bottom line is it's hard to win these things. Pitt needs to capitalize on its opportunities and talent soon, but Wannstedt is about as safe as any coach in the Big East could be right now.

Jordan (Boise)

Does an undefeated Big East champion get in the title game over an undefeated Boise State team. Not should they, but will they?

Brian Bennett
  (3:49 PM)

Boise will start ranked far ahead of any Big East team, possibly as high as No. 2, and going undefeated means beating Va Tech. Plus they're riding a lot of goodwill and credibility. So, no, the Big East would not go ahead of Boise in that scenario.

Jack (New Brunswick NJ)

You live in Louisville, and you covered UofL sports for a while. Are you a UofL fan? If not, who is your personal favorite college team? Doesn't have to be BE/ND, obviously...

Brian Bennett
  (3:50 PM)

Not a Louisville fan and never have been. I don't root for any team. Rooting is a hazard in this line of work.

Tim (NYC)

Is there anyone on the RU roster draft eligible next year that can make it 3 years in a row with a 1st round pick?

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

I sure don't see any first-rounders in '11. In '12, that's a different story.

steveo (NJ)

So you ranked the top 5 in conference games this year, what about out of conference? .....or which out of conference game will have the most publicity/best atmosphere for a great game

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

Off the top of my head:West Virginia-LSUCincinnati-OklahomaPitt-MiamiUSF-FloridaUConn-Michigan

Eric (Dalton, GA)

People always talk about Pitt for Big 10/11 expansion because in part of their TV market. Why not Cincinnati... Back to Back Champs, a similar size market... actually bigger if you include Dayton. Yet never really a mention at all.

Brian Bennett
  (3:53 PM)

Actually, Pitt doesn't really bring a new TV market, since the Big Ten already has Ohio State and Penn State in the region. Pitt is talked about because it makes such a good fit academically and culturally

steve (morgantown, nj)

ok ok i'll make this one easier....whats the best out of conference game in the big east this year in your opinion, and why?

Brian Bennett
  (3:55 PM)

Depends on how you define "best." Strength on strength and a fascinating matchup, I'll take Pitt-Miami.

Ethan (Louisville)

Do the Cards have a CHANCE this year of getting to at least a bowl game? And if the Big East explodes, where do they go?

Brian Bennett
  (3:56 PM)

A really outside chance, but I see 6-6 as the absolute ceiling. If the shuffling begins, they're going to have to hope for the ACC or SEC. But they could be stuck in the wilderness, at least initially.

Andrew (Connecticut)

Randy Edsall has been a lot more vocal these days about many things (in-state high school coaches not attending his camps, Notre Dame ultimatum to name a few). Do you think Edsall will stay at UConn longer than most people expect him to?

Brian Bennett
  (3:57 PM)

He's got great facilities and is running the program the way he wants it. UConn will have to open its checkbook, though, especially to pay his assistants.

John (Wyoming, Ohio)

Always worried about road openers with a new coach... do you know anything much about Fresno State? GO Cats!

Brian Bennett
  (3:59 PM)

I haven't begun to break down Fresno yet, but the Bulldogs gave Cincinnati problems last year at Nippert, and it's never easy to go out there and win. Definitely a dangerous opener for Butch Jones.

Brian Bennett
  (3:59 PM)

OK, folks. My time is up. Thanks for all the questions, and have a wonderful week.