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April 15, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (1:00 PM)

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big East/ND chat

Brian Bennett
  (1:00 PM)

Plenty to talk about, with five Big East spring games and the Irish spring game this weekend. I've been to five Big East schools and South Bend this spring.

Brian Bennett
  (1:01 PM)

So fire away with your best questions -- unless you haven't filed your taxes yet. In which case: Get to the post office!

Mike (Toronto)

Brian, maybe I am reading too much into the bias and optimism of reports from South Bend, but it sounds as if the Irish are shaping up to be a legitimate NC contender, your thoughts on the progress at Camp Kelly?

Brian Bennett
  (1:02 PM)

I think national title is way too optimistic. This is a talented team and should have a chance to contend for a BCS game with a 10-2 type of record. I think that's the ceiling.

Brian (Orlando)

Thanks for the great coverage on BE expansion. Besides the stadium size, are there any other concerns coming from BE members regarding Villanova's football invitation? If BE passes on Villanova, how soon before another invitation is extended?

Brian Bennett
  (1:04 PM)

The stadium size eclipses all other issues at this point. There's no definite plan to expand PPL, and teams are concerned about how Villanova will generate revenue with a 30k stadium. If Villanova doesn't work out, I would think the Big East moves quickly onto another team, probably by the summer at the latest.

Ronny (Jax., FL)

Do you think things get worked out between the BE football schools and Villanova or will the BE move on to someone else?

Brian Bennett
  (1:06 PM)

My gut feeling is the Villanova issue gets worked out. It's going to be a tougher sell to add an 18th team, and the collateral damage of turning Villanova down could really hurt the league. This could be a watershed moment for the very future of the conference

Mike (California)

Hey Brian, love the SU coverage this year. Glad we've got your attention! That being said, what do you make of Ryan Nassib based upon what you saw at qprinbg practice? The SU fanbase seems kinda split on his performance last year - some folks think he was the holding the offense back. With more targets this year, do you see him improving on his passing numbebrs from last season?Keep up the good work.

Brian Bennett
  (1:07 PM)

Thanks, Mike. Enjoyed the trip up there and will have much more on the Orange next week. As for Nassib, he has a really good understanding of the offense. I don't think he'll ever be spectacular, but he just needs to be solid and make the right plays. I think he can do that.

tom (NYC)

Say ND goes 9-3 and so narrowly misses a BCS game. What does that do for the bowl lineup the rest of the way down?

Brian Bennett
  (1:09 PM)

The Irish would be very attractive, but I can't believe the Champs Sports Bowl wouldn't snatch them up in that scenario. Which means the second-place Big East team would head to Charlotte, and at least one team would get squeezed out of the official lineup.

Steven (Louisville)

Going to any Spring Games this weekend? I'd skip Louisville's. I expect the team to pull out rowboats in the second half and have a mock naval battle.

Brian Bennett
  (1:10 PM)

No. I don't find spring games to be all that illuminating, because they're mostly a show for fans. I get more out of seeing scrimmage situations during normal practice. With all the injuries and the rain expected tonight, perhaps Louisville should just cancel its spring game.

Joe (Manhattan)

BB, with all of this talk about Nova, what would be your ideal "Big East" if the conferences re-aligned?

Brian Bennett
  (1:12 PM)

As far as the football side, ideally the league would bring back BC and Va Tech and add Maryland. Then you have a true Eastern league with lots of good rivalries.

Daniel (Texas)

How do you think this season for West Virginia will effect Dana Holgerson's coach in waiting position if they have a .500 or below season?

Brian Bennett
  (1:14 PM)

First, I don't think that will happen. I would be shocked by anything less than seven wins. But it sure would dim the enthusiasm over Holgorsen's first year as head coach. And I think losing is the one thing that could exacerbate the tension in the arranged marriage setup of this coaching staff

Jay (Rutgers)

Brian, when are you coming to Piscataway? Let's get a grease truck sandwich.

Brian Bennett
  (1:15 PM)

Won't be making it there this spring, as my spring travels are over. Unfortunately, a 4-8 season doesn't get our editors fired up to travel to a school for spring. But I do think Rutgers is intriguing. Speaking of ...

tom (NYC)

Are Chas Dodd and the O-Line going to be good enough to allow the talented RU WR and RB to shine? And even with the light schedule, am i crazy to think the Rutgers over/under should be 6.5?

Brian Bennett
  (1:17 PM)

I think Dodd will be OK. The O-line remains a huge question, especially with the news of Wynn's injury. I do believe the linemen are more suited to run Cignetti's offense. If they can just do an adequate job, Rutgers is loaded with skill players.

Curt (Indiana)

Brian, it sounds like Notre Dame's training program will pay divedends this next season. It also appears that Brian Kelly will have more depth along both lines which will help in the fourth quarter of games.

Brian Bennett
  (1:18 PM)

I'd agree with that. The offensive line could still use a player or two to emerge, but the D-line should be really strong. Kelly says the trenches are the strength of the team, and when was the last time the Irish could say that?

Matt (Cincinnati)

What is Cincy's O-Line situation shaping up to be? Are we going to be able to provide Collaros with a little more time in the pocket this season?

Brian Bennett
  (1:21 PM)

The Bearcats have to replace the center and left tackle. They need Evan Davis to improve and a guy like Andre Cureton to take a step forward. We'll see.

Brian (Columbus, OH)

Much has been made of Holgerson's offense and how easy it is to learn and will be effective immediately. What about Graham's offense? He once stated it will take awhile to see the results. How long he is talking. RichRod long or one season or just a few games?

Brian Bennett
  (1:23 PM)

Graham has told me it takes about three years for the offense to get to the pace and effectiveness he wants it. But that doesn't mean it can't be good right away. It worked his first year at Rice and Tulsa. And Pitt has players on offense.

Jay (Rutgers)

Worse curse, the Madden curse or the 'Brian Bennett Big East Champion Prediction' curse?And are you trying to add to your curse powers with the Geno vs. Tino debate, eerily similar to the Savage vs. Daniels debate of last year?

Brian Bennett
  (1:24 PM)

Hey, I picked Pitt to win the Big East title and the Panthers did win the championship last year! (Look it up -- that actually happened).

TerryO (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

Who do you think has the best punter and field goal kicker for next season in the BE?

Brian Bennett
  (1:26 PM)

Kicker talk! I'll take Dave Teggart, hands down, for the placekicker. Punter is not loaded, but I guess Pat O'Donnell from Cincinnati would get my nod right now.

Craig (Dallas)

Brian, based on whay you saw at camp (and I know it's ridiculosly early) do you think WVU has a shot against LSU in Morgantown this year? A win like that would do wonders for the Big East.

Brian Bennett
  (1:28 PM)

Really hard to say since I didn't see LSU, and West Virginia was in the early, early stages of learning Holgorsen's offense. But I like that the game is in Morgantown, and I'm not sold on Steve Kragthorpe fixing LSU's passing game. WVU absolutely has a chance.

Steve (Chicago, IL)

How long until you think ND will make a BCS bowl? This season? Next season?

Brian Bennett
  (1:30 PM)

I think the schedule and the roster sets up nicely for a run next year (2012).

Grant (g)

What do you think about the size of the DT's at the Cuse? they are very undersized but are they quick? We really havent had a big DT's in years

Brian Bennett
  (1:32 PM)

They're not very big. Jay Bromley is a good athlete but only goes about 275 right now. You can get away with that a little in this league. Pitt has, and Louisville did last year.

Shawn W (Manchester, CT)

I would like to see a freshamn running back start for uconn as well as a freshman QB. What are your thoughts about that?

Brian Bennett
  (1:33 PM)

It might happen. It's easier to succeed with a freshman RB than a freshman QB. But no matter who plays QB, he's not going to have very much experience. UConn might have to lean on its defense this year.

Mike (California)

What, no mention of Ross Krautman for kicker?!?!? Guy was rock solid as a true frosh. Half his games are played in a Dome too, yaknow.

Brian Bennett
  (1:34 PM)

Sure, he was good. But how can you argue with Teggart? Guy was money in huge games, and he's got the biggest leg in the league.

Curt (Indiana )

Brian, which young receiver will most likely step up for the Irish this year?

Brian Bennett
  (1:35 PM)

Probably Theo Riddick and TJ Jones. But I'm really intrigued by Daniel Smith. He's got the frame to be the next Floyd if he figures it out. They like the incoming freshmen as well and think they have a chance to contribute this year.

Will (Tampa Bay)

With a top 25 defense and what should be the best running back core in the Big East in Demetrius Murray, Darrell Scott, Dontae Aycock, and Marcus Shaw, there shouldn't be anything stopping South Florida from winning the Big East. Deonte Welch, Terrence Mitchell, and Victor Marc were Top 150 recruits who finally lived up to their billing at wr. That's with Aj Love,Starters Girffin,Aj Love, Evan Landi, and Lindsey Lamar returning. There isn't a team with more upside and talent returning who has a better chance of winning the Big East,right?

Brian Bennett
  (1:38 PM)

Will, I love your enthusiasm. While the Bulls might be deeper than anybody else at RB, I don't know that they have one superstar back. The receivers have been underwhelming and disappointing this spring. I still like USF to contend, but I'd e more encouraged if the skill players had looked better in the past month.

Jesse (Vernon, CT)

With Pitt, WVU, and UConn installing new offenses which team has the most pieces in place to make the transition the fastest and fit right in to the Big East Championship talk?

Brian Bennett
  (1:40 PM)

I think it's WVU. The Mountaineers have a ton of speed and an excellent QB, and it's not like the spread is completely foreign to them. Pitt is making a drastic change, and UConn has major questions at QB and RB as we've mentioned.

Brian (Columbus, OH)

Best WR in the BE? Also, best unproven WR?

Brian Bennett
  (1:42 PM)

Best right now: Mark Harrison of Rutgers. Best potential but unproven: Ivan McCartney of WVU and Kenbrell Thompkins of Cincinnati

James (WV)

We lost Brad Starks for 12 weeks so other than Tavon who will be our best deep threat?

Brian Bennett
  (1:43 PM)

Starks looked really good when I saw WVU practice and I thought he was poised for a huge year. He should still be back in plenty of time for the season. This should give McCartney an excellent chance to step up and earn more reps.

tom (NYC)

Which team would see the biggest drop in wins by the injury/suspension/whatever of a single player?

Brian Bennett
  (1:44 PM)

If WVU lost Geno Smith, that would be a killer. Cincinnati might also struggle without Collaros.

Adam (pa)

Every season nd is over hyped i think?what do you think?

Brian Bennett
  (1:45 PM)

I wouldn't necessarily agree. The past couple of years, the Irish haven't been ranked in the preseason Top 25. But whenever they do have some small amount of success, that's when the hype starts to get out of control.

James (Cincy)

Brian, I'm a season ticket holder at the UC bearcats games. Everyone in our section talked last season and said we wanted to get you there for a game to crowdsurf from the field level all the way to the concourse at top. You down? If so I have an extra ticket in it for you and maybe some free drinks as well.

Brian Bennett
  (1:46 PM)

You'd have to make sure I could do it while still blogging on my laptop.

Rob (Pawleys Island, SC)

If Nova doesn't come in as a football member, who do you think will? More from out west possibly?

Brian Bennett
  (1:46 PM)

I still think it will be UCF. Go ahead and roast me, USF fans.

Pete (Tupelo, Ms)

BB how many games do you think Floyd might miss.

Brian Bennett
  (1:47 PM)

My hunch is he'll sit out the opener and come back for Michigan. But that's a total guess by me.

Mike (Tampa)

Do you see the Big East trying to improve its academic profile by adding TCU and trying to call up Nova? And if so, would this hurt the chances of schools like East Carolina and Houston to make the jump?

Brian Bennett
  (1:48 PM)

I don't think academics have anything to do with this. If anything, the fact that TCU and 'Nova are private, religious-affiliated schools sits well with the Catholic members. But it's not anywhere near the top of the list.

James (WV)

What is USF fans prob. with UCF? I think they would be a great fit.

Brian Bennett
  (1:49 PM)

Well, if I told WVU fans that Marshall was coming into the league, I think the Mountaineers might react the same way. It's understandable -- but also shortsighted, in my opinion.

Eddie (New Jersey)

With all the hype Rutgers fans have placed on Savon Huggins, are they potentially setting him up for huge disappointment? I mean, didnt they do the same thing with Tom Savage?

Brian Bennett
  (1:51 PM)

I'm not sure I follow your question. Savage was pretty good as a true freshman. It's easier for a running back to jump right in. But I do believe that calling Huggins the next Ray Rice and expecting immediate greatness is unfair to a kid who has yet to take his first college class.

Brian (Raleigh)

Which games do you see Notre Dame losing this season?

Brian Bennett
  (1:53 PM)

I'll go with at Stanford and Michigan State. Really, the Irish would probably be favored in every other game right now on paper.

Laurie (Cedar Rapids)

How tall are you? You looked like a shrimp next to Danye Crist!

Brian Bennett
  (1:54 PM)

I'm 5-9 and he's 6-4 -- total mismatch. That's why I like interviewing Big East running backs on camera ... makes me feel tall.

Steven (Louisville)

What's the deal with Louisville injuries? Basketball and football have had numerous injuries. How many of the current injuries are serious/long term?

Brian Bennett
  (1:55 PM)

It is weird. The good news is that none of the football injuries are considered serious enough to keep players out of fall camp.

Sam (St. John )

Do you see Pitt being the number 1 contender in the Big East or does West Virginia take the icing on the cake

Brian Bennett
  (1:56 PM)

A few too many questions for Pitt. I'd put WVU and USF as the top two contenders for now (and the league office apparently agrees, scheduling those two for the final regular-season game).

Sam Schwartz (Boston)

Do you see the potential for Tavon Austin to go down as the highest drafted WVU skill position player in recent memory?

Brian Bennett
  (1:56 PM)

Tavon is still small, very small. A 5-9ish receiver is not going to get drafted very high.

Laurie (Cedar Rapids)

5-9....that's tall enough. ;)

Brian Bennett
  (1:57 PM)

I appreciate the vote of confidence.

Dean (Louisville)

Have you seen Bridgewater? What do you think?

Brian Bennett
  (1:57 PM)

Very lanky and athletic. Looked best when throwing on the move. Talked to one coach who recruited Bridgewater but saw him as a receiver. Kid needs time to learn.

Jose (Westchester, ny)

brian- what is your take on Syracuse's chances in the BE this year? Do you think well see a better O, and a reloaded defense?

Brian Bennett
  (1:59 PM)

It's wide open, and Syracuse will have a chance. I expect the defense to take a small step back because of the inexperience at linebacker and DT. But I do think the offense will be a little better. My question: how do the Orange handle being the hunted instead of the hunter?

Erik (Dallas)

I have heard rumors that Mizzou and the two Kansas schools were looking at the Big East. With some questions about Villanova's viability with football is this rumor a possibility?

Brian Bennett
  (1:59 PM)

Not after the Big 12 just signed its 13-year deal with Fox. The Big East won't be able to match the money

Alan (ME)

The BE already added TCU, will they think to add Boise at all? Improve the competition level of the conference?

Brian Bennett
  (2:00 PM)

No. Geography too difficult

chris (tpa)

Brian, you really think kelly will sit floyd for the opener?

Brian Bennett
  (2:00 PM)

I do, but again, it's just my speculation. I think it would send a bad message if Kelly doesn't bench him for at least one game. And Kelly would get heavily criticized for it

Brian Bennett
  (2:01 PM)

That's all my time today, folks. Thanks for the great questions, and enjoy the weekend full of spring games!