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January 26, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Good afternoon and welcome to another Big East/Notre Dame chat. Bear with me today as I am severely under the weather and may be a bit slower than usual on the responses. Fire away.

mike (WV)

Hey BB, did the BE really think through the TCU thing. TCU has been strong over the last couple of years, however, before that they were a dog with fleas. What makes the BE believe that TCU will continue to excel? What happens if it lost its coach or something else changes? Then you are back to a dog maybe without fleas and added travel expense but still just another dog. TCU wasn't the answer, it was a quick fix but there are no guarantees. The BE needs its current members to excel.

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

TCU has been pretty strong now for half a decade. Patterson has rebuffed all kinds of opportunities. The Big East feels like the school has made a major commitment to winning no matter who the coach is. There's very little downside here

Ryan (Canton, MI)

Hi Brian,I need some help figuring out the situation with Tom Savage. Maybe I'm misunderstood, but aren't scholarships on a year to year basis and need to be renewed by the university every season? Isn't this how so many schools are able to oversign on recruits, by simply "cutting" kids and not renewing their scholarships? So why is it that Savage needs to get Rutgers permission to let him out of his scholarship to transfer? Or am I completely misunderstanding how this works? Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

You're not all that incorrect, it's just that schools hold all the cards when it comes to player movement. They can choose to not renew a scholarship, but if a player asks out of one to transfer, the school can restrict the places to which it will grant him a release. It's really shameful.

Chris (PA)

Hey BB, what do you think of Graham's recruiting class so far? Kinda a lot of rbs. We might need someone to block for them. Also what do you think of the job he has done in his short tenure so far?

Brian Bennett
  (4:05 PM)

They need RBs because Ray Graham is the only one on scholarship. Plus, running back is a place where you see players moved to different positions all the time. I think Graham has made the best of a tough situation so far.

Doug (Tampa)

BB Im one of ur biggest critics openly so I want to know if you consider yourself a journalist first and foremost . Reason I ask is you seem to be on this UCF train and everything points to you pushing for them, look at the blog u wrote today no mention of any other program to the BE Commish. I ask you what makes UCF the BEST program to enhance the BE (no mention of Notre Dame, Houston, Memphis, Kansas ect..) Thanks and look forward to hearing your reasoning. Thers seems to be a biased here that is unmistakeable.

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

I am a journalist, but I'm also asked to give my opinion. And it's my opinion that UCF is the best, most ready-made option for expansion. The Knights have great, new facilities, a good market and just finished in the Top 25 after beating Georgia in a bowl. UCF is a much better option than Villanova, in my opinion

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

And I would have asked Marinatto about other schools, but after he shot down that line of questioning, there was little point to it.

Joe (South Carolina)

Hey Brian, recently Brian Kelly spoke about having 4qbs in the mix. Any idea what his plans would be for the other 2, since the Irish are looking at 6?

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

I think the obvious options would be for a QB or two to transfer, or perhaps a position change. I can't see Nate Montana staying in the mix.

Barry (Storrs)

What do you make of this whole refunding of donation situation. I think its absurd. Just because you donate money to a program doesn't mean you have the right to make influential decisions, right?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

It is somewhat absurd, but on the other hand, nobody ever gives away millions of dollars without expecting something in return. Ask T. Boone Pickens or Phil Knight. The trick for an AD is to make those big-money guys feel appreciated and involved while still making his own decisions.

tom (NYC)

I'm embarrassed by Greg Schiano and the RU administration's behavior. Not only is Savage likely the better QB, but they have been unprofessional in handling the situation. That said, Schiano seems to have a really strong class coming in and is the only thing remotely resembling stability in the conference. Advantage Rutgers until TCU shows up?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Rutgers had a lot of young players on the roster in 2010 and returns virtually the entire offense (not that it's necessarily a good thing in this case). If the Scarlet Knights can fix the O-line and get a running game established, they could be contenders. I wouldn't go as far as saying they're the favorites by any means.

Luke (Latrobe)

Who do you think the QB will be for Pitt going into next year? Any chances we could get a transfer like Forcier??

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

I think Sunseri still has the big edge, but don't sleep on Mark Myers. I would think Forcier heads west since that's where is family is from, but that's just a guess.

LG (Columbus Oh)

BB,Are we looking at a Top 25 matchup to start the year when USF travels to The Bend to play the Leprechaun Legion?? Should be a great game with all the stories involved. What do you think the chances are you will be covering it?? Any other big Big East games that weekend??Thx

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

I am certain that Notre Dame will be ranked. My hunch is that USF won't be ranked. But it should be a really interesting game. I'd very much like to be there, but that decision is a ways away still.

ryan (boston)

is noel devine ready for a jump to the nfl? there are some undersized running backs but he is way to small and even at the slot he would be exposed. any chance he has a legit career?

Brian Bennett
  (4:16 PM)

I still think he can be effective as a third-down back/return specialist type if he lands in the right situation. But it will be an uphill climb

Bob (CT)

Which BE players do you think will be drafted in the first two rounds?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

I would say probably Jon Baldwin. But I'm not sure there are any others projected in the first two rounds at this point. If I'm missing somebody, please let me know.

Steve (Tampa)

Afternoon, Wow you mentioned above that UCF is in your fav or most deserving to join the BE, That is over any and all programs, even Notre Dame?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

Out of the realistic possibilities. Notre Dame is not a realistic option and never will be.

Jesse (CT)

Is it more important for the Big East to get a team that can bring in TV market like UCF or a team that travels well to try to get better bowl tie ins like ECU?

Brian Bennett
  (4:19 PM)

Everything the league is doing is aimed at TV markets. That's what they want to be able to sell when it comes time to negotiate a new media deal.

Stefan Kulak (Mid Michigan)

No doubt the biggest buzz besides recruiting in Notre Dame forums is next years starting Quarterback. With so many questions from Crists knee and accuracy, to Rees's strength, Hendrixs potential, and incoming QB Golson, who is the favorite to start 2011.

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

It will be between Rees and Crist, and a lot will depend on how healthy Crist really is. Rees earned a lot of goodwill for his play down the stretch, and there's a lot to be said for his accuracy and quick release in this system.

Roberto (The Bronx)

Do you see the Big East inviting Georgetown to upgrade its football program to Divison 1A status?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

No. Georgetown is nowhere near being able to make the move

ryan (boston)

what about todman? he has 2nd round ability

Brian Bennett
  (4:23 PM)

That might very well be. The knock on him is going to be his size, and there are always a lot of running back prospects.

Brian (OH)

Noel Devine weighed in at the Senior Bowl at 160 and looks extremely small next to the other players. At WVU I never thought he looked THAT small, is WVU as a team a 'small' team in general? Which I know the 3-3-5 is made for more athletic smaller players on defense. Or am I just looking into one guy's weigh in too much?

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

WVU has a tradition of very small skill players (Slaton, Devine, Sanders, Austin, etc). Stewart made it a priority to get some bigger backs and receivers, which is why you see guys like Alston and Clarke back there now.

JH (Cary, NC)

thoughts on WVU next year? how good can they be? thx in advance!

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

The Mountaineers will be fascinating to watch because of all the questions. How quickly can Holgorsen get his offense installed and clicking? How well can Casteel rebuild a defense that loses seven starters? How will the coaching transition go? This season could go a lot of different ways, but West Virginia has loads of potential.

Greg Schiano (New Brunswick, NJ)

Brian, how big would the commitment of Savon Huggins be for our program?

Brian Bennett
  (4:28 PM)

I never read too much into one recruit. But clearly Rutgers needs a real difference maker at running back, something they haven't had since Ray Rice. If Huggins is that guy, then it would be huge.

MG (Augusta, GA)

What did you think of Notre Dame's improvement on defense near the end of the year? A sign of things to come or just a mirage?

Brian Bennett
  (4:30 PM)

The Irish played too well on defense for too long down the stretch for it to be a mirage. And with the players they have coming back and the ones coming in, the defense should be really good in 2011

Michael (Bristol, UK)

which coach is on the warmest seat for 2011?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Since so many coaches are in their first or second year in the Big East, there aren't a lot of hot-seat situations. Greg Schiano will start to feel a little pressure if Rutgers doesn't do well this year, but his contract and paycheck means he's going to get every last benefit of the doubt. Butch Jones could feel some heat if Cincinnati has another losing record. But I don't see any firings in 2011

DJ (Tampa)

Hey BB and BE fans, question just saw your blog on recruits and you say Lousiville has best class but than you say Syracuse has best class top to bottom, So who do u think is the best class? Hope u feel better soon.

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

No, I wrote that Syracuse has its best class under Doug Marrone (unless my fever put me in a fog and I didn't make that clear). Louisville clearly has the best class right now. Thanks.

Joe Rod (Charlotte, NC)

Do you think that USF will have the best Defense in the Big East in 2011?

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

I was looking at that earlier today, actually. USF has a chance to be good but has to replace its best tackle, linebacker and defensive back. UConn loses only two starters. WVU is always going to be good under Casteel. I don't know that there's a clear-cut choice for best defense.

Scott (Buckhannon, WV)

With Dana Holgorsen's track record in improving offenses quickly and the returning offensive players, is there any reason not to believe that WVU will be the top offense in the BE in 2011? Remember, we are talking about the Big East here...

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

I would agree with that. The other team I think that could be up there is Cincinnati, with Collaros, Pead and Woods back. The Bearcats could start clicking in Year 2 of Butch Jones' system.

Joe Rod (Charlotte SC)

Do you find that most of the criticism about your UCF opinion comes from the Tampa area?

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

I think it would be fair to say that. Reasonable minds can disagree. I've got no problem with debate

James (Fairfax, VA)

Is Notre Dame's incoming recruiting class one of the best they have had in the last 20 years or so? At minimum, the defensive line recruits may be the best they have ever had period.

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

Let's wait and see how these guys pan out, because there have been lots of hyped recruits in South Bend before. But as far as stockpiling defensive line talent, this looks like their best class in a long, long time.

Matt (Philadelphia)

Is there a chance that Todd Graham and his spread just aren't a good fit for a program and a city like Pittsburgh, similar to Callahan at Nebraska and Rich Rod at Michigan?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

It's possible. But Walt Harris liked to throw it around, and I don't think people minded as long as he was winning. In a pro sports town, you need to be not only good but entertaining to watch.

Scott (Buckhannon, WV)

I read in a post that if the NCAA were to hit WVU with substancial sanctions, Dana Holgorsen has the ability to leave without violating his contract. Is there any reason to believe this could happen?

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

I would be shocked if WVU got anything different than Michigan did for mostly the same allegations. The Wolverines got basically a slap on the wrist. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

DomerInLA (Los Angeles)

Hi Brian,Love your chats. Great work.I'm an ND fan, and my question relates to the large no. of DEs who have verbally committed to ND. Assuming they stick through signing day (which is a big assumption), what are your thoughts on what position these guys actually end up playing at the end of the day?

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

Ishaq Williams has already been tabbed to play linebacker. In the 3-4, a couple of these guys could be the hybrid end/linebacker. My question is which ones can stand inside and stuff the run. And don't forget Louis Nix, assuming he has laid off the cheeseburgers

Dave (Louisville)

BB hope u feel better, Would u care to clear up all the chatter about where you went to college . Alot seem to think you have the Lousiville thing but your actually a UK Grad correct.

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

Thanks, Dave. I did graduate from Kentucky, for whatever that's worth. Saw a lot of bad, bad football under Bill Curry. I like to think that prepared me for emotionally distancing myself from any one team.

tom (NYC)

It's a long way off, but what do you expect when Edsall goes back to Storrs in 2013? Appreciation for a decade-plus of service or indignation that he left for a mediocre "dream job"?

Brian Bennett
  (4:48 PM)

There will be some hurt feelings, but a lot will depend on how UConn does. If the Huskies are still good under Pasqualoni, it will be much easier to forgive Edsall.

pat (tempe, az)

Considering ND's schedule in 2012, they might be better that year but have less wins than '11, do you see ND going to a BCS bowl within the next 2 years

Brian Bennett
  (4:49 PM)

Yeah, I can see that. This would be a good year to pounce, because the schedule is favorable. It's pretty brutal in '12.

Richard Burton (Greenwich, CT)

Chances that I just sealed the fate of UConn AD Jeff Hathaway somewhere down the line with my "Dear Jeff" letter ...

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Hathaway will be OK as long as Pasqualoni turns out to be a good choice. Remember that this is his first major hire at UConn, and there's a new president coming in. If things turn south in football, he could be in trouble

Dustin (Charleston, WV)

Are you looking forward to watching Holgorsen's offense vs LSU's defense in Morgantown next year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

Absolutely. Anytime there's an SEC team on Big East turf, it's must-see. This one could be a lot of fun

Chris (Titusville, PA)

Pitt over/under 8 wins with Todd Graham with his system and the recruiting class he is bringing in?

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

Can I push? With Iowa, ND and Utah on the schedule, it's going to be tough. An 8-4 or 7-5 season seems like a real possibility.

Bryan (Kentucky)

BB who do you see starting at QB for the Cards

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

My money at this point would be on Bridgewater. He's already enrolled, while DaMarcus Smith is still exploring other options

Aaron (Cincy)

How much can Butch Jones improve UC this year? My guess is a flip of last years record, 8-4. I think fans would be ok with that.

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

I could see that. All 11 starters are back on defense, though the defense was awful. Lot of potential for improvement in Year 2.

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

OK, folks, I'm going to end this a couple of minute early because this fever and headache are killing me. Thanks for all the great questions, and see you next time.