Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

February 3, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (3:00 PM)

Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big Ten Monday chat. I'll be here for the next hour, so fire away with your best questions.

Samuel (Iowa City, Iowa)

Brian, does the Super Bowl being won by a team with a QB from the B1G reflect well on the B1G at all?

Brian Bennett
  (3:02 PM)

Well, let's admit it's a bit of a stretch to say Russell Wilson was a Big Ten product. He was already polished before he got to Wisconsin for his one season in Madison. And we've seen Tom Brady and Drew Brees win Super Bowls in recent years, so this is nothing that new. I do think Wisconsin should get some good publicity and mileage after a Super Bowl where it had some very prominent players.

SmittySue (Carmel)

Devin Gardner is better suited as a WR for the NFL, wouldnt it be wise for Brady to turn Gardner into a WR and have Shane Morris take the lead for the next 3 years?

Brian Bennett
  (3:04 PM)

Hmm... not so sure I agree with you. When Devin Gardner had time to throw, he could be pretty good. Mobile QBs are the rage in the NFL. Besides, Michigan needs only to worry about which QB helps the team more, because the Wolverines need to have a better season in 2014 than they have the past two years. I still think that's Gardner.

Grant (San Francisco)

Hi Brian! Happy Monday. What a terribly lopsided game last night. Obviously the Seahawks won because of the outstanding play of their defense and lock-down secondary. How will this impact the draft stock of players like Dennard as teams perhaps try to develop defenses in a similar mold to Seattle's?

Brian Bennett
  (3:05 PM)

Seattle's secondary is so big and athletic, and I think you'll see teams try to copy that. It might help more for a guy like Stanley Jean-Baptiste from Nebraska because of his height. Dennard would be a top pick in any year, for any system.

Spartan (Spartan)

What do you make of Malik McDowell's parents' comments about MSU? Thoughts? Where do you think he goes? Seems to be high on MSU.

Brian Bennett
  (3:07 PM)

Sounds pretty wide open, though it also sure sounds like he'll want to stay close to home. You never know. I do know that Urban Meyer is one of the great closers, and the fact that McDowell visits OSU last makes the Buckeyes a serious threat here.

Bernard (Columbus)

Ryan Shazier's skill set remind you at all of Kam Chancellor?

Brian Bennett
  (3:08 PM)

Interesting. Chancellor is a little thicker, but Shazier could put on some weight. Chancellor looks like a LB playing safety, though. Maybe that's the route more teams will go.

michael (texas)

Do you think Taylor Martinez will have a shot at the NFL as a wide receiver?

Brian Bennett
  (3:10 PM)

Either that or possibly safety, yes. Whatever you think of Martinez, he's a great athlete and competitor. He might have to make it as an undrafted guy. Needs to be healthy most of all.

Austin (Camp Hill)

A PSU freshman wide receiver is going to need to step up next year and contribute right away, no question. There is a lot of talk about Thompkins in the return game but who do you see being ready to step in and catch some balls right away. Thompkins, Blacknall, Godwin or Apke?

Brian Bennett
  (3:12 PM)

I'm not going to pretend like I watched these guys in high school, so our recruiting folks probably have a better answer. I do like the size of Blacknail and Godwin, and of course Thompkins is the highest-rated player in the class. PSU needs to get production out of one or two freshmen, and needs a guy like Geno Lewis to step his game way up.

Andrew (NJ)

Who would win in a game of Connect 4 (or a best-of-7 connect 4 series): You or Rittenberg?

Brian Bennett
  (3:13 PM)

Oh, I'm pretty outstanding at Connect Four. Maybe not Rajon Rondo good, but I'm confident I could take Rittenber down (or across, or diagonal).

Thelen (Westphalia)

Hello Brian, Given MSU could have beaten either of the NCG opponents, makes this relevant. We had an excellent chance to bring a NC to B10. I understand you guys really pushing to get two B10 teams to BCS bowls. So it made sense to really promote Wisconsin as the #2 team ahead of MSU all season, even after it was clear MSU would be in Indy. At the time, if MSU wins, they and OSU go, but if MSU loses BCS usually doesn?t take loser of CCG, so you needed Wisconsin to be appealing, I get it. My question is this, do you now think, had MSU really been promoted as the #2, is it possible it could have been more like a #2 OSU and #3, maybe #4 MSU in the B10 CG, than as it turned out, the winner going to the NCG?

Brian Bennett
  (3:15 PM)

Well, that's kind of a convoluted question. Regardless, Michigan State never had a great chance to get to the national title game with one loss because its schedule simply wasn't viewed as tough enough. Big Ten teams will need something major on the nonconference resume to make people respect them, so that's why it's good that the league is beefing up schedules.

Bernard (Columbus)

How in the world did Bielema lose 3 games with Russell Wilson and Montee Ball playing together? Amazingly, one of the losses wasn't to a tOSU team that ended up winning a BCS bowl.

Brian Bennett
  (3:17 PM)

It's a great question. It was all on the defense, and the secondary had some problematic breakdowns. Question: if JJ Watt had come back as a senior, would Wisconsin have run the table?

Nick (St Paul)

What do the Gophers need to do to get something going with the passing game next year? Looks like the QB competition will be open. They've landed a few recruits in the last few days. Do you see this year's team with a more balanced attack?

Brian Bennett
  (3:18 PM)

It could hardly be less balanced. The good news for the Gophers is that their three best receivers at the end of the year -- Williams, Wolitarsky and Jones -- were all freshmen. So some growth is inevitable. Leidner was also a freshmen. Patience is a key here.

Mike (East Lansing)

Why have OSU-UM AHEAD OF B1G Championship and Rose Bowl? Aren't the stakes of a championship game AND Bowl game higher than a meaningless rivalry game especially considering Big Ten's track record in Bowl Games and the Rose Bowl, specifically.

Brian Bennett
  (3:20 PM)

Michigan State's win was more important, but Ohio State-Michigan was simply a better game. I mean, come on: 42-41 with a failed two-point conversion with under a minute left? Ohio State was still very much in the national title game. And it was Ohio State-Michigan.

Ted (TN)

I am a Purdue fan. The football season was a bust, and the basketball season doesn't look much better. Please give me something to be happy about.

Brian Bennett
  (3:22 PM)

Well, hmmm. OK, it's not great. But Purdue does have a good bunch of young quarterbacks, and recruiting has been fairly solid. The schedule isn't as difficult in 2014. Think you should see some noticeable improvement in Year 2 under Hazell.

Mike (New Jersey)

You were great in covering the "old" BIG EAST. Every prediction I have seen so far has Rutgers in last place in the upcoming Eastern Division season. Come on we are even or better than Maryland, Penn State or Indiana. What says you?

Brian Bennett
  (3:24 PM)

I think Rutgers is going to have a tough first season, and the schedule -- which includes crossovers vs. Wisconsin and Nebraska -- is brutal. But I do like the Scarlet Knights to finish ahead of Maryland.

Nick (DC)

Hey Brian... I love watching my Buckeyes beat scUM just about every year but I wish they didn't suck quite as much. What's the problem up there? They get great recruits, have lots of money, are a good academic institution, and have nice facilities but they are still a mediocre team. Is it just bad coaching? Does Hoke need to go? What's the root problem?

Brian Bennett
  (3:26 PM)

A very fair question. There certainly was a big transition from RichRod to Hoke in terms of style of play, and Hoke needed some time to restock the trenches. But it's hard to make an argument that Michigan hasn't underachieved with all its resources. I don't think the Wolverines are that far away, but I'm loving the trend line right now.

Craig (Braintree, MA)

T/F: Hageman will affect the decision of future sign-ups at Minnesota. How much can Jerry Kill and staff take for the Hageman's performance when they didn't sign him?

Brian Bennett
  (3:28 PM)

A lot. After all, they were the staff that developed him and got him back on track. Remember he almost was off the team and out of school when Kill first got there.

Gary, Grand Rapids [via mobile]

If the unionization of college football is successful, would players need to pay income tax on the value of their education? The quid pro quo for their "work"?

Brian Bennett
  (3:30 PM)

A very good question, and what about union dues? This sure opens up a whole can of worms. People smarter about labor unions and the law can answer those questions better than me, but it shows that this is far from a simple matter.

Ashley [via mobile]

With signing day approaching, I did some research I thought I'd share. Of the 53 non special teams players on either the media or coaches first or second team all B1G teams, they averaged 3.13 stars. One 5 star (Spence), six 2 stars, and two (Abbredaris and SJB) weren't even given ratings. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:32 PM)

Does not surprise me. That's why I don't pay too much attention to recruiting rankings. Hunger and work ethic have so much to do with a player's development. Guys like Abbrederis, SJB and Darqueze Dennard would barely even have been mentioned on signing day when their careers began, they were such afterthoughts.

Hank (Washington DC)

Is Brady Hoke's job in jeopardy as a result of the Brendan Gibbons situation?

Brian Bennett
  (3:33 PM)

Not unless we find out some more damning info, like what Hoke knew about the situation and when he knew it. But he does owe an explanation of the time line, in my opinion.

Eric (PA)

Can Hackenberg make the leap from game manager to superstar this season?

Brian Bennett
  (3:35 PM)

He has some obstacles, such as a new system, new coaching staff and no Allen Robinson around. But the only question on Hackenberg's stardom is when, not if.

Josh (New York)

What role do you see Jabrill Peppers playing for Michigan next year?

Brian Bennett
  (3:36 PM)

Assuming he's the real deal, and I have no reason not to believe that, I think he can at least have the same kind of impact as Blake Countess did his freshman season, and maybe more. Michigan needs more playmakers and impact guys on defense, and so I think he'll see the field early.

Chris (Chicago, IL)

As a Buckeye fan growing up in Louisville, I had a hard time convincing UofL and UK fans where the nation's true rivalry existed vs. That Team Up North. Your thoughts as a C-J alum on the similarities and differences between OSU/UM and UL/UK?

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

There's no rivalry in basketball like Louisville-Kentucky, especially since the fan bases are so intertwined. I think Michigan-Ohio State football is a little nastier, though, mostly because regular season football games are so much bigger. And there are more fans involved in that rivalry.

Brian Bennett
  (3:38 PM)

There's no rivalry in basketball like Louisville-Kentucky, especially since the fan bases are so intertwined. I think Michigan-Ohio State football is a little nastier, though, mostly because regular season football games are so much bigger. And there are more fans involved in that rivalry.

Brian Bennett
  (3:39 PM)

There's no rivalry in basketball like Louisville-Kentucky, especially since the fan bases are so intertwined. I think Michigan-Ohio State football is a little nastier, though, mostly because regular season football games are so much bigger. And there are more fans involved in that rivalry.

Brian Bennett
  (3:39 PM)

Sorry about the triple post. Some technical issues here

james (tucson)

As a Husker grad and letterman it amazes me we accept mediocrity and classless behavior by Pelini...would you agree our Huskers are a program in decline...We were unranked with 4 losses every year and this 9 win crap is a ridiculous claim of relevance????

Brian Bennett
  (3:40 PM)

I can't argue too much with that. Nebraska fans used to demand conference titles, BCS games, national championships. Different world out there now, but the Huskers have plateaued

Jared (Work)

I think you had technical issues because when talking about basketball rivalries, you consider Louisville-Kentucky in another class from Duke-UNC . . . and the computer began to malfunction because it couldn't compute that statement.

Brian Bennett
  (3:41 PM)

Only if it can't handle the truth.

Nick (St Paul)

Following up Brian, do you think Leidner has the edge going forward at QB for the Gophers given the type of offense it seems like Kill wants to run? Or do you see someone like Streveler or McKinzy being given a shot at some point during the season?

Brian Bennett
  (3:42 PM)

Kill has shown he's not afraid to play more than one QB. The young guys are talented, but Leidner has a huge experience edge. I'd be really surprised if he's not the starter to open the season.

Samuel (Iowa City, Iowa)

Brian, is Nebraska too far gone? Or could a great coach's star power turn things around?

Brian Bennett
  (3:43 PM)

This is a program that has won nine or 10 games every year under Pelini. So it's not "too far gone" in any sense. Pelini could turn it around himself. Nebraska just doesn't enjoy the same advantages it had in the 1990s, and recruiting isn't easy there.

Steve (Indiana)

What does a better job, Indiana's defense, or DOT crews in the south?

Brian Bennett
  (3:44 PM)

Ouch. But uh, yeah, Indiana's defense has been consistently terrible. Brian Knorr has a lot of work to do as the new coordinator, but change was needed.

Cacey (Toledo)

Brian, is this the year we see our first B1G night game in November? Maybe Ohio State @ MSU?

Brian Bennett
  (3:46 PM)

Wouldn't be the first one, just the first one in a long while. And yes. Several schools want it, an the game you mentioned is a logical choice. Now it's really up to the TV executives, who have ultimate say on game times.

Grant (San Francisco)

You are an NFL GM. Your owner has demanded that you select a B1G player with your first pick. You have opportunities to improve at every level. Which current B1G prospect do you pick to make the biggest impact immediately?

Brian Bennett
  (3:47 PM)

I'm taking Darqueze Dennard. With the NFL such a passing league right now, a shutdown CB is extremely valuable.

bruce (venice)

hey brian big fan of your writing!I was just wondering what you think Braxton Millers chances of winning the heisman next season?

Brian Bennett
  (3:48 PM)

Thanks, Bruce. Miller has great name recognition, which will help him. But he'll need to have an even better year than his previous two, especially as a passer. His stats have been great but not necessarily as good to those who've actually won the Heisman from the QB position of late. But if he stays healthy and Ohio State stays in the title hunt, he'll be in the picture.

Jeff (Wisconsin)

Although I know Badger Nation wants to see someone else start instead of Stave (including me), I just don't see Gary Andersen sending out a quarterback who has never made a Division I start for the LSU game. This game will be one of the biggest games Wisconsin will have. A win against LSU would shoot the brand up for the Badgers. What are your thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (3:50 PM)

I agree wholeheartedly. Houston or McEvoy would have to really outplay Stave throughout spring and summer practice for the Badgers to make that change for the opener, I think

Scott (Chicago)

Brian, do you have any insight as to whether NU-Notre Dame is going to happen? Or when a final decision will be made?

Brian Bennett
  (3:51 PM)

Northwestern plays at Notre Dame on Nov. 15. Unless you know something I don't, it's happening.

Adam (PA)

Is Penn State a better football team than last year or will the lack of depth keep them as a 7-8 win team?

Brian Bennett
  (3:53 PM)

Depth is going to be an issue for a while, and there will be a transition with the new staff. But the schedule is manageable, and I think the Nittany Lions should go 4-0 in the nonconference portion. Still, I think an 8-win season would be a success in Year One for Franklin.

vern (lowa)

Do u you think the huskers will have a top 10 defense?

Brian Bennett
  (3:55 PM)

Hey, Vern. (Sorry, had to be done). Top 10 might be a little ambitious, but I like the potential of the young guys up front and I think this has the chance to be one of the best defenses in the league in 2014 if everything comes together.

Jake (State Farm)

Another name for the "How did B1G's 2010 top recruits pan out?" article: Paul Jones from Penn State (hard to believe its only been just over a year since he left)

Brian Bennett
  (3:56 PM)

Yes, another miss from the recruiting rankings. Meanwhile, former walk-on Matt McGloin started in the NFL this season

Andrew (NYC)

Hey Brian, Are you surprised the Tom Herman is staying at OSU? I thought he'd get some serious consideration for a head coaching gig.

Brian Bennett
  (3:57 PM)

Yes, I really thought both Herman and Narduzzi would be head coaches by this time. There just weren't a lot of attractive midlevel jobs open for guys who've never been head coaches. Would suspect that will change next year.

Jon (Seattle, WA)

Hey Brian, who will be a better pro and continue the long tradition (1 year) of Badgers winning the Super Bowl, Abbrederis or Borland?

Brian Bennett
  (3:59 PM)

I'll take Borland. Loved what Abbrederis did in college but not sure he's much more than a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver. Borland should be an impact guy at LB right away.

Samuel (Iowa City, Iowa)

Brian, chances the Hawkeyes make the playoff in the next seven years?

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Iowa's not real close to that level right now, in my opinion. But we've seen the Hawkeyes jump up and have some great years under Ferentz. I do like that they have a slightly easier path coming out of the West Division. I don't like the lack of big games in the nonconference schedule. So I'd say the chances are pretty slim.