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September 29, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Welcome to my weekly chat. Big East and Notre Dame questions welcome here. Fire away!

Ethan (Louisville)

Do you think there is any legitimacy to the NY Post and and NY Daily News articles mentioning TCU to the BE? Could the BE Commish finally be doinf something to help the football side? Thanks!

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

Let's just say I'm skeptical at this point. TCU is not a great fit with the rest of the Big East, and I'm not sure leaving the Mountain West does the Horned Frogs a whole lot of good right now.

John (Downtown Tampa)

Do you think Holtz is sandbagging before going into Big east play... Other than Florida...We have not seen much at all from the offense... I think this gives USF a major advantage when teams have to gameplan for an offense they know little about...

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

I don't think I'd call it sandbagging. I'd call it trying to get wins while the receiving corps is totally banged up.

Matt (Washington, DC)

As of now who do you see winning the Big East and/or being the strongest performer in a high level bowl game? Thanks

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

West Virginia has easily looked like the best team through the first month. However, I still think UConn, Cincinnati and maybe even Pitt are dangerous if they iron out their issues. And the league is pretty wide open.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Do you think Crist regressed against Stanford? Thought the defense did exactly what they had to forcing field goals but that was a lousy performance from the offense.

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

It was not a great performance. Stanford was dropping eight men in pass coverage and Crist did not react well. He was also getting hit a lot. Tough game, but remember it was just his fourth career start.

Andrew (Lexington Kentucky)

who has a more depleted receiving core USF or Louisville?

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

Given that Dontavia Bogan and Sterling Griffin may be back this week for USF, it's got to be Louisville

Matt (Morgantown)

Getting into a conference with an automatic bowl bid would not be enough for TCU?

Brian Bennett
  (4:11 PM)

Yes, but the Mountain West is positioning itself to get its own automatic bid.

Zack Morris (Bayside)

Brain, What quality wins are still possible on BIG EAST out of conference schedules? I know USF goes to Miami, I think Pitt has Notre Dame ..... what else is out there?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

There are those two and Syracuse has Boston College in the season finale. That's about it.

Cole (West Virginia)

Why did you drop Devine in the player of the year race? He got hurt in the first quarter is why he didn't preform against LSU

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Uh, Cole, you just answered your own question.

russell (philadelphia)

do you think pittsburgh can bounce back from there 1-2 start and fix there offense

Brian Bennett
  (4:14 PM)

The good news is Pitt probably isn't going to see any more teams as good as Utah and Miami. Still, the Panthers have major issues, especially up front. They are already making changes there, and we'll start to see how that works against FIU. This team will be a factor in the Big East, for sure, but I don't see them turning it around and going 10-2 or 9-3

Mike (Boston, MA)

Michael Smith is this years Marcus Easley. Thoughts on the progress Difton has made, finally getting into the starting line up?

Brian Bennett
  (4:16 PM)

Smith had a nice TD catch against Buffalo but hasn't reached Easley's level yet. The UConn receivers, as a whole, still need to improve. I'm interested to see what they can do now that Endres is in there.

Aleh (Kim)

Brian, as a Rutgers fan i'd like to express my feelings on Tom Savage. I know im not the only one when i say i've all but lost hope on him as the programs future. He holds the ball to long, he's terribly innacurate, and he just doesen't seem to be a leader. I know good things come with time (Mike Teel), but what should us Rutgers fan be thinking right now?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

I would not give up hope. Not at all. Savage is a talented and smart guy and I think he'll get this figured out. Remember how down everyone was on Teel to start his senior year, and he turned it around and was arguably the best QB in the Big East that year.

Jeff (Charlestown, NH)

Do you think Syracuse is better now than it was this time last year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:20 PM)

Hard to tell. The record is better, but last year the Orange played much tougher competition in the first month. I suspect Syracuse is better, but we'll find out next week when they go to USF.

Dennis (New Hartford)

Do you think Notre Dame will be selected for the Big East slot in the Champs Sports Bowl? Is the selection procedure the same as the Gator Bowl?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

I'd say keep an eye on this week's game at Boston College. If Notre Dame loses, it will be 1-4, and with games left against Utah, Pitt, USC and Navy, bowl eligibility would not be certain. If the Irish win, they'll be in pretty decent position to go at least 7-5. And in that scenario, I definitely think they go the Champs Bowl, which can take the Irish once in four years and will not want to miss a shot at them.

Bearcat (Midwest)

At this early there any way to believe that Coach Jones will not end up as the BE's second coming of Kragthorpe?

Brian Bennett
  (4:24 PM)

I would think the way Cincinnati played against Oklahoma should calm some of those fears. Jones inherited an incredibly difficult schedule in the first month and has been dealt some injuries. Give him some time.

Kevin (Nashville)

As I die hard WVU fan, why do I find myself frustrated with Bill Stewart? He wins games but he just does not seem to show the passion during the game. Do you think the program is headed in the wrong direction?

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

Losing by six points at Baton Rouge is no shame. West Virginia has left some wins on the table the past couple of years. But let's wait and see how this season plays out.

Howie (WV)

Hate to keep belly aching over a loss but what tha heck we've got an open date. I hate the polls! How does LSU get to move up 3 spots after looking so pathetic offensively and my Eers get bashed and dropped out of the top 25, especially bein in position to win the game and playing in one of the toughest venues in the country?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

I can't speak for how other people vote, but I kept LSU in the same spot and dropped WVU a few spots (and out of the poll). I don't think LSU is good enough offensively to beat the better SEC teams. It's good enough defensively to beat good teams at home, though, as it showed Saturday

Otto (Grand Rapids)

Do you think that TCU will be rivals with Syracuse if they come to the big east?

Brian Bennett
  (4:30 PM)

So, so much history between those two schools. And who wouldn't be looking forward to what TCU brings in basketball?

Matt (Pittsburgh)

I know Wannstedt will not make a QB change anytime soon, but what do you think about the argument that Bostick gives Pitt a better chance to win? Sunseri isn't making the right reads and his passes are sailing. He might be too short.

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

I think it would be a terrible idea to give up on Sunseri. He didn't play well against Miami, for sure, but that was a tough defense and he's still learning. Bostick is what he is: a solid backup and a good leader, but limited. He played against a defense that had already backed off and still threw two picks.

john (watchung, nj)

Brian, as a WVU alum I can't believe Stewart didn't have a TRUE halfback in the game when Devine went down. Many thought Austin should have been moved or Hargett or one of the freshman should have played rather than making Ryan Clarke who's a fullback stay in to handle the load.

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

I disagree with this line of reasoning. Clarke has done good things in the past when used as a tailback. If you move Sanders or Austin back there, you severely weaken the receiving corps. And you really want to throw a freshmen or inexperienced player into that atmosphere?

Taylor (Tampa, FL)

If the Bulls continue to win ugly throughout the entirety of the season, is it because Holtz is coaching just to win or that the team is just not talented enough to pull off Holtz's offense?

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

It's a young team that's had a lot of injuries at receiver. Winning ugly sure beats not winning, huh?

mike (new york)

Do you think Randy Esdall could finally be leaving the program after this season to coach at one of the big time or name football program such as Penn State, etc (where ever there is an availability). It seem that Randy is now frustrated on trying to get his team to be one of the top 15 to 25 team in the country in the last two to three years!!I know he got few offers in the past, but he probably turned down most offers cuz he dot not want to move down south or west. He alway sounded like he rather to stay in the upper east coast to the north east area.

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

Do you really think Penn State is going to come calling after Edsall got blown out by Michigan and lost to Temple? How would that sit with the Nittany Lions fans?

Mike (Richmond)

Is the Champs Bowl the only bowl game ND could take a slot from BE teams or do they have access to others like the one in Charlotte as well?

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

Only the Champs. Though ND could take the Big 12's spot in the Pinstripe Bowl

Bo (Greenville, SC)

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

Yes, Bo. There are so many 17-year-old high school kids out there who still are talking about that 1957 Cotton Bowl. In fact, I think MTV just ran a special on it.

Lil Breezy (Florida)

Dear B.Bennett, I hate my NCAA football world immensely, so forgive me if my only joy these days comes at proving you wrong...but your Top 25 of the Big East was off when you wrote it and I told you it could you have left off Tavon Austin, but put Tino Sunseri in there? Your response at the time was "Tavon didn't do much last year..." Tino did? Lets settle this one up. I respect your work, don't compound a mistake with another one. P.S. Did I mention I loathe the fact that I love Big East football? Carry on.

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

Can't get 'em all right.

Adam (Philly)

As a Pitt alum, I'm really appalled at all of the legal trouble off the field and terrible play on the field, particularly the offensive line. Wanny came to Pitt saying we needed to get bigger and faster on Oline and after Thursday night, I think we can clearly say we haven't improved since the Walt Harris era in this position. How long does Wanny have if thinks don't improve?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

The arrests have been bad, but I really don't think it's indicative of the type of character Wannstedt has instilled in the program. You get that many college age guys together and sometimes there are going to be a spate of incidents. The O-line recruitment is far more troubling, especially for a coach so dedicated to the pro style, power running offense. But Wannstedt is very safe for now. The administration loves him and he just signed an extension this summer

George (Morgantown, WV)

LSU didn't beat WVU. Bill Stewart did.

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Funny, but I didn't see Bill Stewart missing two field goals or failing to tackle Patrick Peterson on a punt return.

Jim (Newport Beach, CA)

The last several years, SU has had a brutal non-conference schedule - and their record showed it. This year, the schedule is more favorable. In fact, it looks like a Rutgers schedule. You still give Syracuse very, very, very little credit for what they've accomplished to this point (particularly, considering all the injuries and lack of depth). Yet, Rutgers plays such a soft schedule each year and you can't praise them enough. What gives?

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Jim, have you been reading the blog lately? I sure as heck haven't been praising Rutgers very much.

Bo (Greenville, SC)


todd wright (port st lucie)

Did you find it funny that Brandon Hogan was eligible to play against LSU? Do you think he would have been cleared if WVU was playing Bowling Green?

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

That's a legitimate question, for sure, and one Bill Stewart had to be prepared to answer.

Dave (Cincinnati)

Cincinnati is, right now, the worst team in the BE by record. In your opinion, though, can they still 3-peat?

Brian Bennett
  (4:44 PM)

If they play like they did against Oklahoma, then yes. I need to see the Bearcats string together some performances like that before I say they're back. But, again, this league is wide open

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

That's not what the award is about. It's about who's having the better year. I love Sands, but he just doesn't look healthy out there and he has yet to make many big plays

Mountainman010 (Illinois)

The BE has been dreadful so far this year. They have shown improvement, but have not posted any big wins. Do you think more than one BE team can crack the top 15 playing out their conference schedule?

Brian Bennett
  (4:46 PM)

No. West Virginia may get back in soon, but no other BE team is even on the radar of the Top 25, realistically speaking. And the opportunity for signature wins is almost gone

JimD. (Washington, DC)

In your opinion, which current Big East QB has the highest ceiling going forward?

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

Geno Smith. I still think Tom Savage will turn it around as well.

Nick (Massachusetts)

After watching Notre Dame get blown out by Stanford, do you think Notre Dame has a shot at BC (BC starting freshman)?

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

I do. Stanford is awfully good and physically imposing. BC has a solid defense but is not impressive offensively and will, as you note, be going with a first-time starting QB.

Doug (Syracuse)

Who do you like so far for BE Coach of the Year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

An excellent question. Who has overachieved, really? Syracuse and USF have winning records but haven't beaten anybody with a pulse. Pitt, UConn and Cincinnati have been disappointing. I couldn't pick one now if I had to.

Chris (DC)

Is saying "this league is wide open" code for "every team in this league is terrible this year"?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

(Searching for a comeback ...)

Matt Rob (Pittsburgh, PA)

You were at the WVU/LSU game on Saturday. How does the tailgating and stadium experience in Baton Rouge compare to a game at WVU?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

I don't get to tailgate since I'm working. But I do walk through the parking lots on the way to the stadium. And there's no tailgating quite like SEC tailgating

Jared (Work)

At this point in the year do you think the MWC or the WAC is stronger than the Big East?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

Mountain West, this year, yes. WAC, I'm more doubtful, though it's hard to argue against Boise, Nevada and Fresno (which beat Cincinnati convincingly)

Jon (Philly)

How are you able to watch all of the games when some of them aren't broadcast nationally or on ESPN3?

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

You just do the best you can. Often times I'm in the press box at one game with two or three games going on at the same time. I can't see every minute of every game, and some I see very little of. But you piece it together from game reports, highlights and other sources

John (Downtown Tampa)

Do you think FIU will beat Pitt this weekend...? I do.

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

I agree it's a dangerous game. As for my pick, you'll have to wait for my predictions post tomorrow.

Dan (WV)

What would be the most likely way the Big East can gain back respect this season? Winning most of their bowl games including their BCS game? And what team would have the best chance of winning a BCS game this year in the Big East?

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

There isn't a whole lot to be done. Some of the bowl games are against lesser competition and won't register. Winning the BCS game would be the best way to go.

Riley (Utah)

What is your prediction on Pitt's final record?

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

I'm going to say 7-5. And I never would have guessed that in the preseason.

Carl (Stamford, CT)

How realistic is your Nassib for POY posts? If he keeps putting up similar numbers do you see him winning?

Brian Bennett
  (4:58 PM)

He's off to a really good start. He's also played against Maine, Colgate and Akron. It's all going to be about whether he can deliver in league play.

Dean Hood (Bethel Park)

If Pitt ends up going 8-4 but still wins the big east should the season be considered a success?

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

Yes. Any time you get to a BCS game, that's a success. And it's not like the Panthers have been going to a lot of them lately

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

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