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May 19, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon, everybody. I'm here for the next hour to talk Big East and Notre Dame football. So let's get to it.

brett (louisville )

hey brian,whats the latest on the big east programs getting invites to the big 10?

Brian Bennett
  (4:01 PM)

There's really nothing new. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said yesterday that his league is months away from deciding on potential new teams.

Jimmy (Tampa)

In your blog today you mentioned Jamar Taylor's dismissal as a concern for USF, why? He has never been a viable option for us, and no one was expecting anything from him this year. We have Plancher, Murray, incoming JuCo recruit Michael Hayes, Bradley Battles (a highly touted recruit out of HS), not to mention the rest of our incoming class to pick up the the "loss" (if you can count a season best 300 yards and three touchdowns on 62 carries a loss).

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

You're right in the fact that Taylor's contributions have been minimal during his career. His departure hurts in terms of depth and experience. The Bulls have basically one experienced running back now in Mo Plancher. Everybody else is thoroughly unproven. Taylor always had talent; he just had trouble staying healthy.

Mike (Morgantown)

The Big East deserves to be disbanded. Everyone else in the country knew that it was only a matter time before the Big Ten decided to expand and raid the conference. So why didn't they kick ND to the curb breakup the basketball and be proactive and go after its own tv network? Add schools and make it an all sports conference? The east is the largest tv market in the world, why would you not want to get in on the money train. Are the guys running the Big East that dumb or just a bounch of pantie weights?

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

That's some nice revisionist history there, Mike. Remember that most people ridiculed the Big Ten Network when it started. There's no way a Big East Network would have been as successful because the desire to watch Big East football is much less than the Big Ten. Notre Dame was good for the league's bowl tie-ins. There's really very little the Big East could have done to prevent this current situation.

Vinny (Oriskany NY)

Syracuse five wins.....over or under

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

I think you've pegged the right number. I'm going to go all Wilbon on you and say push. 6-6, I think, might be the ceiling.

Brian (Ohio)

Enough with expansion talk, Robert Sands had a great end to the season last year, I think he has potential to become one of the best safeties in the country. What your thoughts on him?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

Agree with all your sentiments there, Brian (and nice name, by the way). Sands is unique at 6-5, and if he keeps the motor running on high, he can be a major force and a high NFL pick.

Cole (Boston)

I keep seeing people predict a max win season of 8 games for ND. Granted BK needs to implements new schems but: Win totals at cincinnati+better talent at ND on both sides what people claim is an easy schedule for ND, why is 8 wins the max?

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

I think people are being cautious because of the way ND has performed the last three years. Never underestimate Kelly. Still, there are some tough games on the schedule, including Utah, Pitt, USC and Michigan. 8-4 regular season would represent progress.

Marc (Florida)

havent heard much about the qb situatuion at Louisville..Who is at the top of the depth chart now that spring is over and can they be competitive this season under charlie strong? thanks

Brian Bennett
  (4:14 PM)

Right now, Adam Froman and Justin Burke are tied atop the depth chart, but I think Froman better fits the new offensive scheme. And keep an eye on Dominique Brown, the freshman who arrives this summer and could push for playing time.

John (Tampa)

What are your thoughts on AJ Love and his chances of returning next season? Or if he doesn't play get a medical redshirt?

Brian Bennett
  (4:17 PM)

He was injured in mid-April, and it's usually (but by no means always) about a 6-month recovery process for an ACL. And it's tougher for players like receivers who need explosion on their cuts to get all the way back quickly. So I think it's going to be tough for him to get back before the end of the season. He's a fifth-year senior, so he'd need a waiver from the NCAA to get a sixth year.

JT (Indy)

Besides Te'o, who do you think needs to step up on ND's D?

Brian Bennett
  (4:20 PM)

Oh, boy. Can I say everyone? Seriously, the defensive line needs to play better, and the Irish needs a real pass rushing threat, like perhaps Kapron Lewis-Moore. And Harrison Smith or someone else has to solidify the safety spot.

Chris (DC)

I see that all of the ESPN college football bloggers got their pictures taken whilst in Bristol...

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

That's true. Didn't think my mug shot could get any worse. I was wrong. Can't blame the photographer, because she had poor material to work with.

Alex (New York)

If (and it's a big if) Tino Sunseri performs well I'm thinking this Pitt offense has the potential to average 30pts+ per game. I'm not as worried about the interior line as I have faith in Coach Wise. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:23 PM)

The talent is certainly there. I do worry about center, though. It's hard to cover up problems up the middle.

dave d (hackensack)

What would it take to make Villanova move up to D1 football now? It could save the confernce by helping start BETV.

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

Cash to do it and a place to play. Oh, and fans. This team averaged well under 10,000 fans per game while winning the FCS title.

Mike (Storrs)

Who will be Connecticut's top receiver this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

I'm not sure there will be a true No. 1 target. It might be more of a spread-the-wealth type of situation. But I like Kashif Moore to have a big year.

Josh (NJ)

What does the BIG 10 see in Rutgers. When I was a NJ High student, no one wanted to go there, it is between NYC and Philly granted, but not that close. Granted they have been "ok" the past few years in football, but there is no history unless you count that game against Princeton 100+ years ago?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

Huge population base and good academics, plus the potential to get better in football. If the Big Ten takes anybody from the Big East, it will be Rutgers.

david (raleigh, nc)

Hey Brian. If Geno Smith can be the qb we hope he is and with the speed of Devine, Sanders, and Austin, do you think WVU can match the success of the White/ Slaton, years?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Those are lofty standards. That might have been one of the best, if not the best, three- or four-year runs in school history. But Smith and the O-line are the keys to whether West Virginia gets back to that level.

A-Bach (Cincy)

Who will run for more yards this year, Pead or Collaros?

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

I'll say Pead. I think he's going to have a breakout year. Remember he averaged 6.7 yards per carry a year ago.

Josh (Maryland)

Who is on your Heisman watch list?

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

Out of the Big East, it would be Dion Lewis and Mark Ingram. Nationally, I'd have to include Kellen Moore and Mark Ingram, of course.

Dale (San Marcos, Texas)

Whatever Happened To Pat Bostick? Is this kid cursed? Bill Stull was terrible last year and now TINO beat out Bostick. Tino, you can't be a player with that name.

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

Bostick just doesn't have the arm strength Sunseri. But he's a solid No. 2 guy.

Lee (Dayton)

When did Mark Ingram transfer to a Big East school? ;-)

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

Whoops. Meant to say Noel Devine there. Sorry

Tami (WV)

Thanks for the chat Brian. A couple of questions- what do you think of Steele's ranking of Devine as basically the 9th best RB (looked like he displaced a 4th team WR to make room for Noel)- seems low?Oh, and what's up with ranking pitt's RBs ahead of WVU's? Seems to me that WVU has just as much talent, and more depth in that department. I know I may be a little biased, but you're breaking my heart!

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

Speaking of Devine ... Sorry, Tami, but Lewis had the better year last year, and Graham and Hynoski are better than Clarke and Alston. But it's close.

tom (NYC)

How much of last year's disappointing running game was the o-line, and how much was a lack of a RB stepping up? I can foresee the same problems again this year for the Knights.

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

It's a little bit of both, though obviously it all starts up front. The coaching staff feels like things will be better this year, with a better run-blocking line and some more options in the backfield. We shall see.


What players are going to be the face of the BE this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:44 PM)

Dion Lewis. Noel Devine. Jonathan Baldwin. Greg Romeus. Zach Collaros. B.J. Daniels. Tom Savage and Mohamed Sanu. Lots and lots of returning stars this year.

Danny (Morgantown, WV)

What do you think of the BE bowl tie-ins? After the BCS, they seem pretty mediocre to me.

Brian Bennett
  (4:46 PM)

Overall, the lineup is slightly better than it was in the previous four year cycle. Pretty good destinations. I may be old school, but I'd still like to see a New Year's Day game for the No. 2 team.

Rodney (New York City)

If you could add a team or teams to the current Big East, who would choose?

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

I assume you mean non-BCS, because the Big East isn't going to poach a team from another BCS league. The best and most logical of that bunch is Central Florida, in my opinion.

Chris (Cincy)

Hey Brian, what kind of season do you think Zach Collaros will have? If he were to somehow put in a whole season with the freakish numbers he had last year, do you think Heisman talk is realistic?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Cincinnati would basically have to go 12-0 or 11-1 for Collaros to get in the conversation. I think he'll have a big year, but asking him to repeat his numbers from '09 (when two of his starts came against Syracuse and Louisville) is too much.

Bryan (Pittsburgh)

Where do you see Pitt landing when all is said and done with conference reshuffling?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

I think Pitt ends up in the Big Ten.

GoWVU (Los Angeles)

Brian, just considering the 2010 BE title race at this point do you think it's fair to sort into the following three groups: Contenders (Cincy, UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, WVU), Probably Too Many Question Marks (USF), and Non-Contenders (Louisville, Syracuse)?

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

I'd move Rutgers to the Too Many Questions category, and I think you'd have it right.

Dean Hood (Bethel Park)

Rank from highest chance of happening to lowest1. Dion Lewis wins Heisman2. JB wins Biletnikoff3. Romeus wins Lott trophy4. Pitt wins BE and BCS bowl game

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

1. Baldwin wins Biletnikoff. 2. Pitt wins Big East. 3. Romeus wins Lott. 4. Dion wins Heisman

Sean Conners (Teaneck, New Jersey)

Is this the best depth and potential especially maximizing the players talents in the 3-4 scheme ND has had on defense since the early 2000's even possible the late 1990's? With a high octane BK spread offense and with the D they have now on paper w/ experience, this may give them a great chance to be competitive with an even chance for victory in their toughest of games on the upcoming sched? With that, Im saying ND can play competitive ball w/ SC, Pitt, Utah..... I see a winning season, but to what degree is only to be pondered!

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

There is depth and experience on defense, but these are the same guys who have had very little success in the past few years. So they have a lot to prove still.

Andrew (Tampa,Fl)

With all of this talk about expansion, wouldn't it just make sense for the entire Big East to join the Big Ten and possibly have two divisions like the SEC or Big 12? I mean all of our teams are on the East coast and it would be a big improvement for Big East teams, giving us a bigger spot light and better opportunity for the best bowl games.

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

One problem: The Big Ten doesn't want all eight Big East teams.

Conner (Louisville, Ky)

What do you see being the biggest positive changes for Louisville on the field this year? Will it be a stronger running game, better passing game, more efficient red zone offense, tougher players (i.e. less injuries), stingier defense?

Brian Bennett
  (4:58 PM)

More toughness and better overall mental discipline and preparation. Can that make up for a lack of elite talent? That's a big question.

tanner (apopka,fl)

do you think West Virginia can compete for a national title this year and the next 3-5 years?

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

I couldn't possibly predict five years down the road. Hard for me to see it this year with a first-year starting quarterback, but 2011 could be a good year to make a run at it.

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

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