Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

November 17, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (12:00 PM)

Welcome to a special Thursday edition of the Big Ten chat. I'm here for the next hour, so fire away with your best (easy) questions.

Chase (Lincoln Park)

The Michigan Defense has made a HUGE jump from last year. Don't you think Mattison should get an Assistant Coach award? Also, if Michigan goes 9-3, especially 10-2..I think Hoke should get Coach of the Year in the B1G. Agree?

Brian Bennett
  (12:02 PM)

I definitely think Mattison is a strong contender for the Broyles Award. He should get a lot of credit, along with Hoke, for a stunning turnaround. I have a post on Mattison and Nebraska's Tim Beck coming up at 1 pm (shameless plug)

DiHS (State College, PA)

Brian,Am I being too simple, or is it (with a Wisc win on Saturday) the PSU v Wisc game on the 26th decides the B1G Leaders Division?

Brian Bennett
  (12:03 PM)

You got it. As long as Wisconsin beats Illinois, that finale in Madison will be for all the (Leaders) marbles. If Wisconsin loses this week, PSU can clinch with a win, and OSU can stay alive with a win

Brian Bennett
  (12:03 PM)

Wow, not many questions in here today. Must be the time change this week. Send in your questions and you have a good chance of getting it answered.

Scott Cheney (Saginaw)

I know it's a little early to look ahead to next season, but I'm pretty excited about my Spartans in 2012. The defense, O-line, running backs, and special teams should be even better than this year, with most of the players returning. The receivers will need to be replaced, but the glaring loss after this year will be QB Kirk Cousins. How important do you think it will be for his heir apparent, Maxwell, to see some live game action in these last two weeks? With the tight games so far this season, he really hasn't played much.

Brian Bennett
  (12:04 PM)

I think it's likely Jerel Worthy goes, too, but it is a small senior class so MSU should be good again in 2012. Maxwell could get some time this week against Indiana, but that's about the only opportunity. Don't forget the enjoy this year, Scott!

Chase (Lincoln Park)

The way J.T. Floyd is playing corner, if he continues to perform--do you see him getting All Big Ten consideration?

Brian Bennett
  (12:06 PM)

He's been playing well, though I like Johnny Adams and Alfonzo Dennard right now as the first-teamers.

Brandon (CF)

If Michigan wins out and gets a BCS bowl bid, what bowl do they likely end up in?

Brian Bennett
  (12:07 PM)

I think the Fiesta and Sugar are the two options. I could see, say, Michigan-Alabama in New Orleans. Would be a tough matchup for the Wolverines

D-Ford (San Dimas)

Thanksgiving Question. Have the family over, should i go traditional with Turkey or go Hybrid with Turducken?

Brian Bennett
  (12:09 PM)

I'm a turkey guy. Don't think it needs any enhancing. Just some dressing on the side.

Alex (Des Moines)

How does the bowl selection process work with the new divisions and championship game in place? If the loser of the B1G title game doesn't make a BCS bowl is the bowl with the first Big 10 selection required to take them?

Brian Bennett
  (12:10 PM)

The bowls get their choice. The loser of the B1G title game likely will drop down with its third loss, especially if either Nebraska or Michigan finish 10-2.

Kyle (East Lansing)

How do you see the end of the season shaking out? Who plays in the championship game and who goes on to rep the B1G in the Rose Bowl?

Brian Bennett
  (12:11 PM)

I've been saying Michigan State-Wisconsin rematch ever since the first game and that still looks pretty good. I'd like Wisconsin in a rematch on a neutral field and to go on to the Rose. Winner of this week's Nebraska-Michigan game will be BCS at-large if the Big Ten can get a second bid.

Zook Bites (Chicago)

Who replaces Zook when he gets canned after the game against Wisconsin?

Brian Bennett
  (12:12 PM)

Zook still has a job, but he has to at least win one of the last two (at Minnesota is the other) and may need both. I think if Illinois makes a change, it needs to bring in somebody who can get people excited, an offensive guy like Paul Chryst or Mike Leach.

Adam (Chicago)

Would next year's game (MI/AL) have any affect on that selection?

Brian Bennett
  (12:13 PM)

An interesting question. I don't think so. It would still bring a ton of people to the French Quarter, and wouldn't the rematch angle make next year's game even more interesting?

Chris (New York)

Assuming Nebraska has a record that will qualify them for an at-large BCS bowl selection. Will any B1G team EVER be able to beat out Nebraska being selected for an at-large BCS bowl selection. I saw first hand the force (fan-base) they brought with them to Madison...

Brian Bennett
  (12:14 PM)

Ever? Sure. But you're right. Nebraska has probably the best traveling fan base I've ever seen. That makes a huge difference to the bowl people.

Ben (Columbus)

I knew this season was going to be a down year for Ohio State, and I have accepted that fact; but when I sit back and look at the next 2-3 years this team has me very excited. TheFreshman and Sophmores we will have for that time frame should be scary good by the time they are done: Miller, Brown, Williams, Smith, Hankins, Shazier, Grant, Klein, & Roby just to name a few. What do you think OSU's outlook will be over the next 2-3 upcoming seasons? (Without factoring in any bowl ban from the NCAA)

Brian Bennett
  (12:16 PM)

You're right to be excited, Ben. Ohio State only has nine seniors who have started a game, so next year's team should have a lot of talent. I think the Buckeyes will right back at the top of the Big Ten in no time, and I like the future with Braxton Miller. Don't think the NCAA penalties will be crippling (though I could be wrong).

Tom (NYC)

Do you think Bradely gets a shot as HC next year, or do you think PSU totally cleans house and gets rid of him, LJ Sr. Vanderlien, etc????

Brian Bennett
  (12:18 PM)

Bradley has no chance, which is unfortunate for him because he's a very good coach. Penn State has to clean house and get a head coach without any ties to Paterno or Sandusky.

Kawaan Short (WL)

Bennett, I think your helmet sticker distribution system is biased towards offensive players. I had 3 sacks and 6 tackles. What else do I have to do to get a helmet sticker?

Brian Bennett
  (12:18 PM)

Kawann, we actually gave two stickers last week to special teams guys. We chose Gaston over you for his huge PAT block, though you had a great game as well.

Bill (Lansing, MI)

What happens to the loser of the Big Ten Championship Game (assuming they are 10-3) if Michigan and Nebraska both finish 9-3?

Brian Bennett
  (12:20 PM)

I don't see any Big Ten team getting an at-large bid with three losses. The BCS ranking would be too low. So then it just means the bowls pick who they want most. I still think Michigan and Nebraska are the most attractive because of their fans/brands

David (Detroit)

Dantonio said he won't root for Michigan to beat Nebraska. Is he nuts? I know rivalries are cool and all but a Big Ten championship game appearance is enough to put aside the hate for one week.

Brian Bennett
  (12:21 PM)

I thought that was pretty funny. But he wants his team to focus on taking care of its business by winning the next two games, not relying on others. Though I'm sure the Spartans will be happy if they beat Indiana and Michigan wins this week

Jeff (Bloomington)

Indiana gave Ohio State a game. Any chance they can be competitive against Michigan State, too? We are only looking for moral victories here in Bloomington.

Brian Bennett
  (12:22 PM)

IU did have a week off, and the Hoosiers can move the ball. But Michigan State is really good at home and it's Senior Day, so I expect the Spartans to win big. Hoosiers have a chance in the finale against Purdue, I think

Mike (St. Louis)

With the Wildcats resurging and both Persa, Colter, and Ebert leading the way, what's the likelihood of any/all of them getting all-B1G recognition? You could argue Colter is most deserving for his all-everything play? Where would he get recognized if he did?

Brian Bennett
  (12:24 PM)

Ebert has a good chance of first-team honors, especially if Illinois' lack of offense keeps hurting Jenkins (McNutt has the other spot locked up). I think Persa and Colter have split time too much to get that recognition, but both have been very good this season.

Dave (Myrtle Beach)

You disappeared from the chats about the time Zooey was breaking up with her husband. Coincidence?

Brian Bennett
  (12:24 PM)

I told you when that happened that I might have to take a leave of absence ...

Jay (MN)

Brian, how optimistic should I be about the Gophers next year? Is a bowl game possible? The beginning of the season was brutal, but the games against Iowa and Michigan State makes me believe that we can be competitive in just about every game next year.

Brian Bennett
  (12:26 PM)

It's going to be a long process, but I like the path Jerry Kill is on. Tons of young players getting time this year, so improvement should come. I don't think a bowl game is realistic in 2012, but it should be a real goal by 2013

Jacqueline (Illinois)

What are your thoughts on Wilson or Ball heading to New York for the Heisman ceremony (not necessarily that either of them will win it)?

Brian Bennett
  (12:27 PM)

I think Wilson has a chance to get there if he has a big finish and a couple of other guys drop off. Remember, they don't always invite the top 5; it depends on the vote.

Steve (Chicago)

Where is ESPN sending you and Adam this week?

Brian Bennett
  (12:28 PM)

Adam will be in Columbus. I'm home this week.

QB Question (imaginary Big Ten City)

If you had to pick one Big Ten Quarterback for the hypothetical Big Ten team you're head coach of, who would it be? Wilson? Cousins? Martinez? Robinson? Miller? McGloin? Gray? Or who would be your starter and backup?

Brian Bennett
  (12:29 PM)

I'd take Wilson because he can do it all. I might take Vandenberg or a healthy Persa as my backup.

David (Waukee)

Brian, what are the chances my Hawks can finally win a road game this year. Also if we finish 6-6 will we go bowling?

Brian Bennett
  (12:31 PM)

I picked the Hawkeyes, so I'm guessing so. Looks like a tossup game to me, and Purdue hasn't put two good games together yet. Iowa will definitely bowl at 6-6 because its fans travel

Motivation (Chicago)

Will I be enough to help NW knock off another ranked opponent at the end of the year? Or will MSU be prepared after seeing what I did to the Huskers. I can be a really big deal ya know.

Brian Bennett
  (12:32 PM)

I think that's a scary game for Michigan State. Northwestern will have nothing to lose and has shown it can score points on anybody.

Erik (Valhalla, NY)

I know that most schools that have/will have a head coach position available are looking at/hoping for Urban Meyer. The thing is, he left coaching, at least in part, to his heart condition. I can't imagine that taking a coaching job again would be great for his health. What are your thoughts about him being offered the AD position at Penn State?

Brian Bennett
  (12:33 PM)

AD? No. Schools don't hire coaches to be ADs much anymore. It's mostly guys who understand business and fundraising. I fully think Meyer coaches somewhere next year.

Dave (Myrtle Beach)

More attractive to the Capital One Bowl, an 8-4 OSU team coming off victors over Penn St and Michigan or a 3 loss MSU team coming over a convincing defeat in the championship game?

Brian Bennett
  (12:34 PM)

Since MSU played in the Capitol One Bowl last year, I think Ohio State would be more attractive there

Jon (Columbus, OH)

Brian, in USA Today's recent release of Coach salaries from across the country, the SEC has 8 of the top 15 highest paid coaches ($2.75 mil+) to the Big Ten's 3. Meanwhile, the Big Ten has 8 coaches paid less than $2 mil compared to the SEC's 0 (Vandy's not listed). Though money isn't the whole story (and current OSU/PSU obviously tilt the numbers a bit) why is the Big Ten complacent to allow teams to be the Kansas City Royals of College Football? Keeping the Big shared money they bring in through equal sharing, without spending what's required to put a quality product on the field.

Brian Bennett
  (12:35 PM)

First of all, the SEC outspends just about everybody on football. I don't think head coaching salaries is that big of an issue in the Big Ten. It's more the assistant salaries at several places that probably needs to increase

Erik (Philly)

The Big Ten has a shot of getting an at-large team into a BCS game. If they don't, then they probably would get better matchups in the remaining bowl games. While they would lose out on money, they would most likely rack up more wins. Which scenario is better for the league?

Brian Bennett
  (12:35 PM)

Not getting a BCS bid could mean more winnable matchups, but I still think you want to compete at the highest level. And that BCS money sure doesn't hurt.

Jeff (Lincoln)

Do you think Nebraska's loss to Northwestern will hurt Nebraska getting an at large bid to the BCS if Nebraska wins their next two games but don't make it to Indy?

Brian Bennett
  (12:37 PM)

No. I think it's going to come down to a 10-2 Big Ten team vs. Stanford, unless the non-AQ contenders fall off. The Big Ten will have more fans, but Stanford has Luck. Root for ND to beat Stanford.

Gilbert ((Pasadena))

who would you like to see in the Rose Bowl? and why?

Brian Bennett
  (12:38 PM)

It doesn't really matter to me, but a Wisconsin-Oregon game could be a whole lot of fun. Two high-scoring but vastly different offenses

Erik (Lincoln)

What is your favorite pie to eat on Thanksgiving?

Brian Bennett
  (12:39 PM)

Pecan. (Derby pie is the best pie ever). And I usually get a small slice of pumpkin as well.

CJ (Philly)

Odds Bolden transfers out after this year? I saw pretty high since watching him on sidelines he looks totally disengaged from the game. Never talks to other Qbs or coaches at all.

Brian Bennett
  (12:40 PM)

I definitely think it's quite possible. Would that really be a big loss? He hasn't shown me much. I think it's possible quite a few players transfer. Will be interesting to see if the NCAA grants waivers in this situation

zak (OHIO)

Are Robinsons numbers down because of the defenses he is facing, or are they running it with Fitz more now?

Brian Bennett
  (12:42 PM)

I think part of it is Fitz Toussaint and part of it is Denard Robinson has been a little banged up. Michigan is trying to keep him healthy for the stretch run

Kelvin (Dayton)

What do you think OSU's record would be if Boom wasn't suspended?

Brian Bennett
  (12:43 PM)

Well, I don't think the running game was the problem. It was the lack of a passing game. Maybe Ohio State hangs on against Nebraska or makes a few more plays against MSU with Herron, but I think it would be the same

Alex (Des Moines)

Almost through your first season as a Big 10 blogger, what's been your favorite / least favorite parts of following the Big 10?

Brian Bennett
  (12:44 PM)

I've really enjoyed visiting the campuses, many of which I'd never spent time at before. The atmospheres in this league are tremendous. The least favorite part is easy: covering the scandals at Ohio State and Penn State, especially the latter.

MZ (Columbus)

We know it's early and a guess - who's got the headset on in Columbus and Happy Valley next year???

Brian Bennett
  (12:46 PM)

OK, wild stab in the dark here. Meyer at Ohio State and somebody nobody is talking about at Penn State, which is going to be a difficult situation.

Patrick (Ithaca, N.Y.)

Seriously though: Emily > Zooey and it's not even close. You're better than this, Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (12:46 PM)

To each his own. But you're crazy

Dan (Nashville, TN)

If the B1G Championship Game is indeed Michigan State and Wisconsin, as you predict, why do you say that Nebraska would be the second BCS team over the loser of that game, especially if it is once again close?

Brian Bennett
  (12:48 PM)

Easy. Nebraska, in that scenario, would be 10-2. Michigan State would be 9-3 and likely not even in the Top 14 of the BCS as required (Spartans are only 15th right now). As other leagues with championship games have shown, the loser of the title game usually falls down the bowl pecking order. Nebraska knows this from the Big 12

Paul (Chicago)

Brian, would it be likely that Bowl games would not want to invite Penn State as a result of their scandal? I would imagine that bowls would not want that stain, right? Would Penn State not be invited to a Bowl at all?

Brian Bennett
  (12:49 PM)

I agree, at least the top-tier bowls. That's not the kind of publicity any bowl wants. Penn State, if it doesn't win the Big Ten title, may be wise to sit out bowl season and focus on cleaning up its mess. Hate to see that for the players, but there are more important things

Bo Pelini (Lincoln)

Do we actually manage to keep D-Rob wrapped up this weekend, or like many mobile QB's this year (Wilson, Colter), does Shoelace make us pay?

Brian Bennett
  (12:50 PM)

Some of the other mobile QBs, like Wilson and Keith Price, could make throws on the move. Robinson has really struggled lately passing the ball and Nebraska needs to make him pay for his mistakes.

Dan (Minneapolis)

Since AR hasn't produced for me I'm now putting my hopes in you. Please get Delany to change the crazy new years days schedule for B1G bowl games. We suffer through all these other bowls when what we really want to watch is B1G games and then they are all on at the same time!

Brian Bennett
  (12:51 PM)

It's not Delany's call. It's TV. I wish they would spread them out. Trying to watch them all at once and cover them effectively in the blog is not easy

Jared (Michigan)

Could OSU receive a bowl ban before the bowl season starts? If so, could they contact USC for their own bowl game? Just a funny thought.

Brian Bennett
  (12:52 PM)

Ha. Well, Ohio State won't go back before the infractions committee before the final week of the regular season at the earliest. So I don't see how a bowl ban could come down before they had already accepted an invite

George (Chicago)

Forget Emily and Zooey, men > women. Give it a try b2, you won't regret it.

Brian Bennett
  (12:52 PM)

Um ... To each his own, George

Chris (Chicago, IL)

Northwestern -- Pinstripe Bowl bound? They have a huge NYC alumni base, Girardi is an alum, Steinbrenner was once a grad assistant for the Wildcats football team, and, oh yeah, the Cats organized hundreds of fans to take boats from Chelsea Pier in NYC to West Point this year, showing that they'll show up for NYC-area games. (Also, one note -- I believe there is a rule that the B1G Championship loser can fall no farther than the #4 bowl selection.....so if, say, MSU lost, they couldn't fall lower than the Insight Bowl this year.)

Brian Bennett
  (12:54 PM)

I'd like that. Watched the Pinstripe last year as a Big East blogger, and it looked like a lot of fun even with the snow. Plus, matching up against a Big East team would be beneficial for Northwestern's chances of winning a bowl

Joey (SC)

Whats Ohio States outlook for the rest of the year?

Brian Bennett
  (12:55 PM)

I like the Buckeyes to win this week. At Michigan will be fascinating. Toss-up game there.

Dave (San Diego)

Now that we are just about through Year 1, do you think NU has been the home-run addition everyone thought (hoped?) they would be to the conference?

Brian Bennett
  (12:56 PM)

Particularly when judged against the additions other conferences have made (Missouri and A&M to the SEC, Pitt and 'Cuse to ACC and Utah, Colorado to Pac-12, to name a few) Nebraska has been a home run. Great fit for the Big Ten, and division play has been a hit so far, I think

Jeff (Lincoln)

I thought the Pinstripe was Big 12, not Big East?

Brian Bennett
  (12:57 PM)

It's Big East vs. Big 12, but could become an at-large if Big 12 couldn't fill all its spots

Nate (Denver)

Nebraska's option attack is always tough for teams to prepare for. How do you think Michigan will play against it this Saturday.

Brian Bennett
  (12:58 PM)

I asked Mattison that question earlier this week, and he said his defense gets good preparation for it against its own offense in practice. But he said it will require great communication and discipline.

K. Gibson (AZ)

Does Cousins go to the next level as a clipboard holder?

Brian Bennett
  (12:59 PM)

I definitely think he can make a roster. High-character guy a lot of teams would want. Don't know that he could ever be a starter in the league.

Mark (Council Bluffs, Ia)

Do you ever think Kirk Ferentz will make drastic changes to the coaching staff, such as special teams, offense, and defensive coordinators. Or will Ferentz leave Iowa before such a change happens?

Brian Bennett
  (1:00 PM)

Ferentz has shown to be pretty loyal to his guys. I could be wrong, but I think it's more the makeup of this particular team than any real coaching issues

Brian Bennett
  (1:00 PM)

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