Chat with Brian Bennett
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett in The Show at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday!
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
Hello, everybody. Who's got bowl fever? Let's chat it out
Hey Brian, any word on the SU head coaching front? I've heard Skip Holtz had an "interview" with Daryl Gross, and Doug Marrone from the Saints has had two..
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
Holtz and Gross met yesterday and will be in the same room again today. No word yet. Turner Gil is also in the mix.
Brian, love the blog. Why is your co-worker covering the ACC side of things dogging UC and the Orange Bowl so much? Arent the ACC and VT the ones who should he taking the heat considering they looked lifeless against KU last year and havent won a BCS game in oh 8 years!
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
I can't speak for her, but I think Heather's looking at it from an ACC perspective. And in that sense, a four-loss ACC team playing Cincinnati isn't that exciting. From a Big East perspective, it's much bigger.
With you being from Louisville, just how hard was it to watch this season and how long do you think it will take them to get back to at least a respectable level?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
Wasn't hard for me since I'm not a fan of any team. I think it will take at least two more years. Next year could be rough, given the talent depletion and the schedule.
Michael (Long Beach, CA)
Is this really what the Orange Bowl has become? Ugh.
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
Is this any worse than Kansas-Virginia Tech last year or Louisville-Wake Forest last year? Not much, methinks.
What do you see the Big East teams doing in their bowls? Personally I think the Big East teams should come out of the bowl season with a 5-1 record.
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
Well, I haven't broken them all down yet. But I like South Florida and Rutgers to win, I like UConn's chances and I think the other three are toss-ups
Kyle (Milford, CT)
Tyler Lorenzen was getting constantly booed in the student section every time he dropped back last saturday. We're dying for a QB who can win a game with his arm and a WR who will actually catch the ball. Do you see Endres or Frazer getting the nod next year?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
I was not at all impressed with Frazer last week, obviously. 4 attempts, 3 interceptions. But the problem goes much deeper than just the QB. The WR's can't get any separation and have bad hands. And it's not a passing-based offense. They need a lot of work in the offseason
Chris (Wallingford, CT)
You have got to be kidding me about the article suggesting that Rutgers leave the BE for the Big 10. I mean, seriously, who does Rutgers think they are? Do they really think they've outgrown and are too good for the Big East? You have a couple of decent seasons after about 100 years of misery and now you're "big timing" the rest of the conference? Seems week to me. I know it was only written by a beat writer, but still, I've been around some Rutgers fans lately and this is not something totally new. Geez, UConn has been playing D1A ball for less than 10 years now and they've already at least caught up to the almighty Rutgers.
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
It was actually written by Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi, whose work I enjoy. I see his point about Rutgers maybe wanting to build up to the point where it could be Big Ten worthy. But like you said, this is a program that's had basically four good years and has five losses each of the past two seasons. Win a Big East title first.
Jake C (Honolulu, HI)
Your thoughts on the Cincinnati @ Hawaii Game? Late Comeback, or endgame choke?
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
I thought Cincinnati's defense made the big plays. Hawaii had bad field position, and without a running game, they were forced to pass instead of eating the clock. And Grutza came in to save the day for a struggling Pike.
i know it is early but who do you see as the team to beat in the big east in 09?
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
Pittsburgh, especially if McCoy comes back as he insists he will.
With the graduation of Pat White and possible early entry of LeSean McCoy and Kenny Britt, who are the up and coming stars of the Big East?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
We've still got Noel Devine and Vic Anderson. Tony Pike could have a huge year at Cincinnati. I'll be interested to see if Eugene Smith makes an impact at West Virginia. To name a few.
I remember Dan Orvlosky having a lot of success throwing the ball at UConn, does Edsall just not have the talent anymore to run any kind of passing game?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
I think it's just a matter of the talent on hand. They haven't had bigtime receivers now for a couple of years. They had some young guys this year that they liked, but it's been a slow development process. UConn is going to have to go out and find a stud athlete or two at that spot.
john (new haven, IN
Brian- what are your thoughts on ND/Hawaii? Can ND change their minds on Charlie if they lose this game and fire him? Also, is this where they belong or should they have received a diffent bowl bid? Predictions on the game!!! thanks
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
It's about right, in my opinion. Not a big bowl, and a team they can beat (plus a great trip for fans). I don't see them firing him now, because it would be harder to line up a credible replacement.
Shonn Greene (Iowa City)
Brian, what do you think about me for the Heisman? ESPN apparently thinks only QBs deserve the Heisman.
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
I think Donald Brown had more yards this season and outgained you against your one common opponent, Pittsburgh.
How big a travesty is it that Scott McKillop isn't a finalist for the Butkus Award?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
When you consider 12 others made it over him, it's ridiculous.
Woody (Cleveland, OH)
Brian if Cincy were to win the Orange Bowl and finish in the top 10, would you and your bretheren at ESPN still pick them near the bottom of the Big East next year?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
I believe I picked them fourth this year. They lose a ton on defense, but the offense should still be strong.
Allison (Taylorsville, NC)
Brian, After a difficult loss to Florida in the SECCG will Alabama send another message to the non-BCS undefeated's like UGA did to Hawaii in the Sugar last year?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
It won't be that bad, because Utah is much better than Hawaii. But I think Alabama wins it fairly easily
hey brian, first is pitt gonna show up and beat osu?, and two i no shady has said many times he is coming back but i still hear people like the announcer for pitt uconn game saying he will go, wat do you think he will do??
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
I think it will be a good game with lots of scoring. If Oregon State plays defense like it did against Oregon, Pitt will win handily. As for Shady, I've got to take his word for it. I asked him point blank last week if he would go if he's projected in the first round, and he emphatically said no. Minds change, of course, but McCoy is a smart, thoughtful guy
Steve (Cin, OH)
What more must the Big East do to stop all the conference bashing? UC and the Big East were raked over the coals during the Hawaii game by the ESPN announcers. The league has won 3 straight BCS games and UC finished 11-2. Yes, they struggled against UH but they did beat them.
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
Just keep winning. I still don't understand why the ACC doesn't get bashed more for its lousy BCS record, though
why does the Big East get an automatic bid? since VT and Miami left the conference isn't any better than the WAC, MAC, C-USA, etc. The Orange Bowl has been lackluster the past few years. your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28 West Virginia 38, Georgia 35 Need I say more?
Alan (Shreveport, LA)
Brian, I have a friend who argues BCS games (outside the championship) don't matter to SEC and Big 12 teams because they all expect to play in the national championship and anything else is a letdown...that basically, these teams aren't "up" for these games and that's his explanation for why a team like Michigan beat Florida last year (I highly disagree..I watched that game). For instance, this year he is saying that Texas and Alabama have nothing to play for and thinks, should they get beaten, that is the reason. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
If you can't 'get up' for the Sugar Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl, why are you playing college football? I think that's a lame excuse.
Dan (Cincinnati, OH)
What do you think the chances are that Cincy sells enough Orange Bowl tickets to fill their allotment and avoid having to eat a large chunk of change like WVU did last year?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
Haven't heard an exact figure yet, but I'm told sales are going briskly. Remember that WVU had to travel a long way and had some very disappointing things happen before the bowl. The entire city of Cincinnati is embracing this team, and this is a brand new experience for all involved
Do you think Army should wear the camouflage uniforms when they play Rutgers next year?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
Love the Army-Navy game and wish all of those guys nothing but the best. But my God those unis were ugly.
Brian, it seems alot of people think OU will handle UF due to their explosive offense. What they aren't thinking about is the fact the UF has probably the most speed on defense, namely defensive line, that OU will have seen all year. Then there is the large desparity in special teams. What are your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
I like Florida. I think they're more well-balanced, and I haven't been impressed with Oklahoma's defense all year.
Brian, love your work. Gosh, we need a playoff. USC is the best and most talented team in the country, and because of computers they can't prove it. I would put my money on USC to beat both Florida and OU. Do you agree?
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
I do not agree. While USC's defense is special, its offense is lousy. Let's say the Trojans hold Oklahoma or Florida to 24-to-28 points, which would be an outstanding performance. Where are USC's points coming from?
Mack (Pittsburgh, PA)
Brian...do you see Dave Wannstedt turning the Pitt program around to the point where it will be the flagship team for the Big East conference where Pitt will be competing for the Big East Title and National prominence year after year?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
Well, he's getting it closer. He's been killing it on the recruiting trail, and I think he and his staff did a better job with game management this year. The next step is an awfully big one, though.
Jake (Salt Lake City)
Is it odd to you that the matchup in san diego is better than the orange bowl? Do you think it would ever be possible to get rid of the automatic qualifiers for the bcs? Top ten play, 1 plays 2 etc?
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
As long as the big boys get to keep the lion's share of the money and we keep watching, it won't change
Can we beat Buffalo with just Donald Brown and his running game, or do we need to figure out how to pass the ball in the next few weeks?
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
You'll need a few more wrinkles. Getting Darius Butler back would be big, and the late date (Jan. 3) helps in that regard.
Dan (Mine Hill, NJ)
It's clear the Big East has a huge problem when it comes to the bowls. The Gator Bowl and Sun Bowl have made it plain they have no interest in any BE teams, only Notre Dame. I understand why, but what can the Big East teams do about it? Or is there nothing that can be done?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
A big fan turnout for Cincinnati will help. Bowls live and die on attendance and TV ratings. The Big East needs to prove it can bring both of those to the table.
hey brian love your stuff. What happened to Gregg Cross? Is he gonna play next year?
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
He's mysteriously disappeared. I understand why the coaches want to keep Stull at QB, but it seems to me they could find a way to use Cross somehow, unless he has an injury we don't know about. Pitt does have a lot of playmakers, with McCoy, Kinder, Baldwin, etc.
Tran (Providence, RI)
How does this REVISED plan sound? The BIG EAST drops DePaul, Marquette, and St. John?s. Next, poach and add Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, and Florida International because all 3 schools have burgeoning football/basketball programs. If the BIG 12 SOUTH can have 4 teams from the state of Texas, why can?t the BIG EAST have 4 teams from the state of Florida. In addition, force Georgetown or Villanova to legitimatize their football program. There will be 16 basketball teams and 12 football teams.
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
So you want to drop the NYC and Chicago markets for three schools that have done absolutely nothing? No thanks
With the chances of OSU getting Blown out by Texas; Alabama making Utah look like fools who are out of their league;USC not letting Penn State score. Can the Orange Bowl potentially be the second best BCS game next to the NC?
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
Interesting question. I do think the Orange Bowl will be highly competitive, though probably not high scoring. But I think Penn State-USC will be a good one, too
Lets say that Selvie leaves for the NFL, how do you think South Florida looks next season? I do know for sure that they need to correct their turnover margin.
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
I think George is gone. The defense is OK, really. It played very well the past two games. It's the offense that needs some major tweaking. That spread just isn't working.
Why did Rutgers, such a hot team, not get into a better bowl game?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
A) Because they're 7-5. B) Because the Meineke didn't want a rematch with North Carolina, and Rutgers went to the International Bowl last year. C) The Big East bowl lineup stinks at the bottom.
Dan (Mine Hill, NJ)
And why did we appoint a commissioner from the least relevant school in the conference? What's a good bar in Birmingham, by the way?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
John Marinatto had a huge hand in keeping the Big East afloat during the tough times and knows everybody. He's an excellent choice. The 'Ham is not one of my favorite cities, but try The Garage.
The Fonz (Los Angeles)
Did you get a free bowl of soup with that haircut in your picture?
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
I'll ask for that next time.
How does the BE need to fare in its bowl games to not take a step backwards?
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
The key is to avoid embarrassment, and Cincinnati especially needs to play well. No one will care what happens in the International or St. Pete, but if the league can beat the Pac-10 (Oregon State) and go at least 2-1 against the ACC, it will have something to brag about
Who from the Big East goes in the first day of the NFL draft?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
George Selvie, for sure. Darius Butler and Mike Mickens, most likely. Possibly Connor Barwin. Kenny Britt, if he goes. I'm sure I'm forgetting someone
Brian- Don't let them give you hard time about the helmet! Seriously, how far out do you think the Big East is from having a Nat'l Champ contender again?
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
It's OK. I've had bad hair all my life. But at least I'll never go bald. I think a couple of years. I don't see it in the cards next year. Pitt will be good but not that good. Still, if Syracuse makes a good hire, Louisville turns things around and South Florida figures out how to be consistent, this could be a strong league top to bottom
I love how all these Rutgers fans are griping about the status of their bowl. When Tom Obrien, Russell Wilson and the rest of the Pack run all over them, and the D shuts down Teel, they will be regretting not going back to Toronto. Also, I have seen some "common opponent" comments, and Scarlet Knights fans, the Pack beat down UNC at Kenan Stadium 41-10. You have any prediction for this game and Why?
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
I like Rutgers because of the way they're playing. But you're right. If they focus on being upset of where they were shipped, they'll definitely get beat by a good Wolfpack team. But I don't think Schiano will let that happen.
Best performance you witnessed this year?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
Probably Oklahoma in Week 2 against Cincinnati. I came away convinced that the Sooners would be playing for the national title that day.
Not that my opinion matters, but I don't like it that the Big East has 3 bowl games against the ACC and none against the SEC, Big 12, or Big 10. Winning the bowls only proves that the Big East is better than the ACC, with no chance of proving anything against other conferences. Do you think the Big East will ever get locked into some bowls that match them up with someone other than the ACC?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
The Papajohns.com game was supposed to be against an SEC team, but the League of Awesomeness couldn't qualify enough teams. Go figure.
Larry - Arvada
Are these real people asking questions or just co-workers feeding you questions.. if not, will you answer if Pat White has cance for POY in the Big East.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
No chance. It's going to be McCoy or Brown
why is Tim Teblow even in heisman contention his stats are SUBPAR and he has more athletes at WR then OU could dream of Sam Bradford doubles almst everything important to a QB passing yards TD's i could go on but you get the point
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
Dave, his stats are in no way subpar. He's thrown for 28 touchdowns and ust two interceptions and has 12 rushing TDs. He's incredible. He almost singlehandedly won that SEC title game.
I suppose you didn't see OU's defense shut down Cincy, or Texas Tech, or Mizzou. All championship caliber offenses
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
26, 21 and 21 points. Nice, but not exactly shutting down.
Tim Boise, ID
Do you really believe Boise state would not win the Big East, ACC, and possibly the big ten?
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
I think they'd compete, but we have no way of knowing. Boise State does get some weeks off against bad competition, something teams in every other league don't enjoy
Tougher defense: Big 12 or two-hand touch?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
That's the key question, isn't it? Were the Big 12 offenses that good or the defenses that bad? I guess we know what Tebow thinks from his comments. I can't wait to find out.
Who had the toughest out of conference schedule this year in your opinion?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
I assume you mean the Big East, and if so, Syracuse.
Brian, you always talk about Pitt as being the favorite for next year but how bout the defending champs? Sure they lose alot on defense but only lose 3 starters on an already powerful offense
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
I'll never doubt Brian Kelly. But I wouldn't pick any team that loses 10 defensive starters as the favorite the next season. Not to mention their leading receiver, best offensive lineman and All-American punter. That's a lot for any coach to replace
Can you please let Tim in Boise know that BSU's SOS is 114, only 7 points higher than I-AA James Madison, who has won 12 in-a-row too.
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
Better passer: Average SEC QB or Venus De Milo?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
And there's the other key question for our BCS title game: Were SEC defenses that good, or SEC offenses that bad? It would have been more of a question had Alabama won.
Matt (Chicago, IL)
Why does Ohio St. consistently get preferential BCS treatment (outside of the fact that their fans "travel well")? They are ranked behind Texas Tech in ALL polls, they didn't win the Big 10, "quality" wins are few and far between, and everyone expects them to lay another goose egg on the big stage. What gives?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
Like I said earlier, fans and TV ratings. These bowls aren't charities set up to reward the most deserving teams. They're businesses.
I think this year is proof that one bad game or loss does not matter anymore- It actually worked out really well for the BCS.. Do you agree?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
People who live in Texas wouldn't agree, and I do feel bad for the 'Horns. On the other hand, if you polled the entire country and asked them what game they would really like to see, I think Florida-Oklahoma would be the runaway winner. Without a playoff system, this is about as good as we can hope for.
Brian Westbrook (Philadelphia, PA)
Why can't my alma mater get their act together and upgrade their football program to the FBS? They can share the Philadelphia market with Penn State by making a deal to use Lincoln Financial Field, it is less than 22 miles away!!!
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Not that simple for Villanova. Remember that Temple plays at the Linc, too. And upgrading to FBS is a very costly proposition, especially for a small private school
Brian, I think all Big East fans are getting tired of the Boise argument. They played 4 teams who lost 9 games or more, dont you think they need to beef up the OOC schedule before they go crying about not getting in the BCS?
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
I think they have it tough in scheduling, because no major school in its right mind wants to go play on the blue turf. But the conference is weak and gives them some off weeks. Not Boise's fault, and the Broncos have done a fantastic job. But that doesn't mean they'd step into the Big Ten or Big East and dominate
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
OK, folks. That's all I've got time for. Be sure to remember me on your Christmas lists. Take care.