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February 23, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Welcome to another Big East/Notre Dame chat. I'm here for the next hour. Fire away with your best questions.

Dan (Chicago)

Mike, when is the Big East schedule typically released? I'm getting married this fall on Oct. 22nd, and I want to see who I'm going to watch the Huskies play against when my future wife gets mad at me for watching the game during the reception. I'm hoping for a Thursday nighter, and we can skip the argument altogether.

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

First of all, never get married on a college football Saturday. That's bad form. I've been told the schedule is almost done and should be out by early next week, if not sooner. Best of luck to you and your bride.

Ronny (Jax, Fl)

How confident are you that if Nova says no, BE will go to 10 and not stay at 9?

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

The Big East stated its goal as expanding to 10 teams. So if it's not Villanova, I believe it will be someone else.

Chad (Iowa)

Hey Brian, really enjoy your coverage of the Irish. I'm not going to say it's likely, but wouldn't you say that a lot of things could be falling into place for a special season this year? Kelly year 1 was incredibly similar to other elite coaches such as Saban, Meyer, Stoops etc. With all the key cogs coming back for year 2, when those guys all brought previously dormant major programs back. If one of the QB's steps up, why can't the Irish be the hot team this year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

Notre Dame is generating a lot of preseason buzz already. The Irish have most of their starters back, the schedule is manageable by the Irish standards and I expect improvement in Year 2. A BCS bid seems like a fair expectation.

Chris (DC)

To Dan from Chicago: my cousin's getting married that same day too, luckily he picked a bye weekend for our Buckeyes

Pete (NYC)

Wouldn't it make sense for the Big East to have the same teams match up in the final game each year to help develop some rivalries? The league should do more to help facilitate other big regional games besides the Backyard Brawl.

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

Pretty much the same teams have matched up the past couple of years: WVU-Rutgers, Pitt-Cincinnati and USF-UConn. I like the idea of trying to create a marquee matchup for that final week. It worked beautifully in '09, not so much in '10 (though the final game between UConn and USF was still meaningful). It's hard to predict that many months in advance, however

Pete (Tampa)

What do you see as the biggest area of concern for WVU this coming year and have you heard any update on Geno's foot?

Brian Bennett
  (4:11 PM)

Holgorsen told me last week that Smith will be in a boot for another few weeks and then will be re-examined the day WVU starts spring practice, on March 28. They're hopeful he can run around but they will be cautious. The biggest concerns are just getting that offense in place, finding a starting running back and making up for some of the key defensive losses.

George (Raleigh, NC)

BrianI know that Kyle Flood has Greg Schano's backing as a good offensive line coach and he does have some significant history at producing good offensive lines. Do you think the issues in the last couple of years have been distraction with doing offensive coordinating or just a period of time where there just has been a lot of graduation of nfl caliber talent on the line.

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

I don't buy the whole "being distracted" thing. Flood was technically co-coordinator, but Ciarrocca called the plays. I think it's a matter of a bad fit with Ciarrocca's style and the fact that players on the line didn't develop like Rutgers thought they would. Flood didn't forget how to coach all of a sudden.

Kendal (Mt. Washington, Ky)

Hey Brian regarding the Louisville QB situation,why aren't we hearing Domonique Brown being mentioned? I thought he was well regarded coming out of high school. He played in several games last year.

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

He played out of the Wildcat, threw one pass all season and had it be a costly INT against USF. I think the staff sees him at another position, maybe receiver.

Jason (West Virginia)

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Calvin Magee's offense center around a mobile QB. I am wondering where Pitt's mobile QB is sonce I can't seem to find one on their roster. Tino averaged a whopping 2 yards per carry last year and Pat Bostick left town.

Brian Bennett
  (4:16 PM)

Remember this is Magee's offense as blended through what Todd Graham wants to do. Magee told me the QB doesn't necessarily have to run and that Pitt would base its offense around the strength of the players. It's not going to be a Denard Robinson/Pat White situation.

Mike (Storrs, CT)

With 2/3 of our LB's gone, a new QB, RB, and 2 OG's, is it really fair to expect more than 7 wins from UConn this year? And I haven't even mentioned the new staff. I want to be optimistic, but reality keeps tugging at my coat.

Brian Bennett
  (4:19 PM)

There are legitimate concerns, and you didn't even mention the new head coach and coordinators. The one reason for optimism: that nonconference schedule looks very easy.

Nick (Cincinnati)

Is it illegal to use glue or some other adhesive in football? If not why did DJ woods use it last year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

Touche. Woods probably deserves to be on my Top 25 list based on his stats, but the turnovers killed his chances. I hope he gets that fixed this year, for his and Cincinnati's sake.

Chris (DC)

I think the difference between Kelly's year 2 vs other NC winning year 2s (Tressel's, Meyer's, Saban's, ect), is that these coaches typically had alot of talent already in place, it was just a matter of getting a new coach in there. I don't feel like ND has a ton of talent ready to go for Kelly to draw on for next season. What do you think?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

Asking for a national championship from the 2011 Irish is way too much. They don't have the experienced depth that you need. But again, a BCS game is squarely within reach.

chris (cuse)

I think Syracuse can be a dangerous team next year and a much different one with an offense that is deep at wide reciever and a QB the coaching staff loves, not to mention a good young O-Line

Brian Bennett
  (4:23 PM)

I didn't notice a question in there, but Syracuse has a chance to build on a really encouraging 2010. My questions are at RB -- is Bailey an every-down guy? -- and at WR, where the Orange still need more consistent playmakers. And losing Smith and Hogue at LB hurts.

PigBete (Tampa)

Which offense do you think will show the most improvement in the Big East next year.

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

West Virginia. Too much skill for that offense to struggle as it did in '10, and Holgorsen should inject some major excitement. No. 2 choice: South Florida.

Doug (Tampa)

Afternoon BB, I saw you posted about the need for teams to get better on Offense this upcoming season to be more comp, I also noticed you didnt mention USF and the stable of Backs, (loaded) Receivers (loaded) and the most exp QB in the league returning.(Offense is flashy but defenses win championships) and the BE has some pretty solid Defenses. I want to know what you think about USF and their chances this upcoming year.Thanks and look forward to the upcoming season

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

Actually, I did mention USF and the fact that they have two transfers (Scott and Aycock) coming in to help the running game. I wouldn't say the receiver position is loaded by any means; there's more depth than last year, but still not any proven No. 1 type guys. And Daniels needs to be more consistent. All that said, I like the outlook for USF this coming year, which is why I had the Bulls No. 1 in my first power ranking of 2011.

Andrew (Morgantown)

Do you think Andrew Buie or Dustin Garrison have a shot at seeing a good amount of playing time this season. They are Holgersons first recruits and both are extremely talented and underrated prospects. Also whats your over under on the amount of sacks Bruce gets this year. 20?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

I think both guys will be given a shot, though neither arrives until the summer. There's no clear, obvious No. 1 back right now. As for Irvin, 20 is an extremely high number. I'd put his over/under as his same total this year: 14. He'll be facing a lot of attention in 2011.

Joe (NJ)

Do you think Cincinnati should be favored next year considering they will have the best qb/rb duo in the league and they wil return everybody on defense?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

No. They're coming off a 4-8 year, and even though every defensive starter is back, that defense was terrible in 2010. I like the Bearcats as a bounce-back team, but don't see them winning the league.

Gwig (Upper St. Clair)

IF, and that's to say IF, Pitt goes with a primarily 3-man front this year, who do you like those three to be?

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

Myles Caragein and Chas Alecxih are back and should be able to man the middle. Brandon Lindsey might be more effective as an outside linebacker in that scheme given his size. Another end needs to step up this spring, whether that's Justin Hargrove or Bryan Murphy or T.J. Clemmings.

Mel (Columbus, Ohio)

The backyard rivalry sometimes gets pretty intense. Do you think the hatred could get so out of control and lead to events like what happened at Toomer's Corner?

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

I don't think the heat in that rivalry is anything like the Iron Bowl. Thankfully.

George (Raleigh, NC)

It's me again...last year you expressed concerns last year even during RU's preseason concerning QB effectiveness and the offensive production. If RU can manage to get it's offensive line producing, do you think that with the great talent at WR and an effective Chas Dodd that RU can get back on track.

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

It was easy to see in the spring that the O-line was a mess. Couldn't block the Rutgers defense in practice, and we know how that turned out. The pieces elsewhere are in place, and it just comes down to that line. I do think Cignetti's system fits the line better.

Jim (Nj)

How much weight do you put on returning starters to project next seasons ranking? Rutgers and Cincy return a lot of players while Cuse and L'ville return the least. I see these teams potentially switching spots next season. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

I put a lot of stock into that, but it's not the end-all, be-all. The two teams with the most returning starters last year were UConn and WVU, and they were the best two teams in the league. Returning starting QBs are big, too.

Bill (Texas)

How much do you think Notre Dame's Freshman Dline class with contribute next year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

True freshmen don't typically contribute much at that position. I thin Lynch could be an exception since he's an early enrollee. Ideally, though, Kelly would redshirt most of them (in ND's peculiar way) and let them hit the weight room hard.

John (DFW)

Can TCU officially join the Big East blog for the 2011 year? I would love for you to cover the Frogs

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

I'd love to have them ready to go. Would make 2011 more interesting. Unfortunately, schedules are already set. I plan on giving periodic update about TCU this year in the blog to get everybody ready, however.

Mike (Storrs, CT)

Do you think, with a fresh set of eyes, that more WR's will get a shot to see some playing time this year? Edsall seemed stubborn to play only 3 WR's last year. It couldn't have hurt to see what other kids could do. How much worse would the passing game have gotten?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

Receivers weren't the only problem, as Frazer had a hard time getting them the ball. But UConn lacked guys who could really get separation down the field. Whatever happened to Dwayne Difton? I would expect the passing game to improve under the new staff, if only because they will emphasize it more.

Conner (Louisville, Ky)

I'm a Louisville fan. Can you give me a reason for optimism this year, considering our QB, WR, and OL issues going into spring ball? I hope that UL can match last years win total, but I'm somewhat skeptical...

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

Inexperience is a concern, but Louisville is bringing in guys with more talent than their predecessors. Strong and his staff showed they can really coach last year. And if the Cards don't get it done this season, they will be well set up for the next couple of years after that, it seems.

Brian (OH)

Best WR corps in the BE?

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

It just might be Rutgers, with Harrison, Deering, Sanu and Tim Wright back. WVU has a lot of potential, too.

Phil (Washington, DC)

Which players do you see making a run for Big East POY in 2011?

Brian Bennett
  (4:46 PM)

My favorite at this point would be Geno Smith. Other strong candidates right now would be Collaros and Pead, Ray Graham, Tavon Austin and potentially B.J. Daniels.

Karl (Tampa)

It seems unlikely that the Big East will have any teams ranked to start next season. With South Florida at Notre Dame (likely top 20 preseason) in week 1, do you see that changing if we can pull out the win? Are there any other marquee games you think could put the Big East on the map early?

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

If USF beats what might be a Top 20 preseason team on the road, then, yes, I can see the Bulls being ranked. LSU at West Virginia in September is the major early game. Pitt at Iowa is intriguing as well.

Brad (Tampa)

BB, are RB's Scott and Aycock the real deal or am I just dreaming that the Bulls will have the best running game in the Big East next year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:49 PM)

I haven't seen them in practice, and the Bulls don't start until next week, so I can't give you much of an opinion. I know the coaching staff raves about both of them, though. Scott will have to be better than he was at Colorado

Ryan (New York City)

Do you see the potential for any major conflicts between Stewart and Holgorsen this season?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

It's an odd situation, to say the least. If anybody is gregarious enough to make it work, it would be Stewart. I'll say I think it works if the Mountaineers are winning. If there are some ugly losses or if the offense struggles, look out.

Kevin (East Hartford, CT)

Why does everyone seem to talk about the Big East's next expansion move being EITHER Villanova OR UCF (among others)... My question is why not both?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

Because the league has said it wants to go to 10, not 11. But I agree with you. Villanova won't be ready for another few years regardless. UCF could play in 2012.

Brian (OH)

Should ND be afraid after BK's first year? Are the irish fans so quick to forget Willingham's great first season as well as Weis had a great first season?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

It looks to me as there is a much more solid foundation being built under Kelly, especially in recruiting the defense. Plus, he's proved he can win championships as a college head coach, something neither Ty nor Charlie ever did.

PigBete (Tampa)

Who do you see as being the replacement for Nield at WVU.

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

Josh Taylor was Neild's backup last year, but he's a good 20 pounds lighter. I'm not sure there's a guy who can do all the things Neild did. That's a concern for the Mountaineers.

Brendan (Connecticut)

Brian, Was McEntee's or Tanney's trick shot video better?

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

Tanney had higher degree of difficulty stunts. But McEntee was first and had better production values and music. Edge to Johnny Mac

HDizzle (Chicago)

How confident should I be, as a Bearcat fan, about the UC defense being fixed this season? Adding Murray and getting Battle back should help the defense this season, right? Right??!!? Please!

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

I don't know about fixed. There are still depth and basic strength and weight issues. It will be better, because it can't get worse.

Ryan (New York City)

Another sub-par season and could Schiano be in trouble at Rutgers?

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

He will face greater criticism and scrutiny, but his contract situation and history there means he's still quite safe.

Kevin (East Hartford, CT)

Wouldn't bringing the league total to 10 teams defeat one of the purposes for expansion in the first place (even home/away conference schedule)?

Brian Bennett
  (4:58 PM)

The major complaint wasn't the home/away split but that there were only seven games, making it very difficult to find five nonconference opponents and enough home games to cover the costs of running a program.

Jay (Rutgers)

Hey Brian,if there is an NFL lockout that looks to be long term, do you see the Big East making a bold move in terms of either TV deals or scheduling? I know schedules are fairly locked in stone, but for the health of the league could moving a BE game to a Sunday unopposed by the NFL be that bad of an idea?

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

Schedules will be set way in advance of whatever the NFL decides to do. TV would have to make that decision, not the league

Rich (New York, NY)

I know it's early, but care to take a stab at Freshman of the Year candidates in the BE?

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

I'll take Savon Huggins.

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

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