Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
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 Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Hey, everybody. Big week in the Big East, and Notre Dame is involved in that too. I'm fired up. Hit me with your best questions.
Please dont tell me your like everyone else who seems to think the Pitt vs ND game is not important to Pitt. Grant it I know the BE title is what is most important but isn't the tradition of this school on a National level most important as well. And a beat down of the Irish like by 10+ points at home on ABC would be great for the BE and Pitt.
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
It's not relevant to the Big East race, but I think it's important. Pitt just got to the Top 10 and needs to continue to build its momentum and notch a marquee win. Other than the South Florida victory, there's not a lot on the resume. And of course any game against Notre Dame is big.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
Considering how things have gone after Tom Jurich poached an "up-and-coming" coach from Tulsa in Steve Kragthorpe, what is he likely to go for next to replace him? Another up-and-comer from a school like TCU, Houston, etc, or maybe a more established coach who's known for winning? Or does he take whoever he can bribe into taking the job?
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
I don't know right now who's on Jurich's short list, but judging by his history, I say it will be and up-and-comer. Look at the guys he's hired: John L. Smith, Bobby Petrino, Kragthorpe. All were relative unknowns before coming to Louisville but were hot names.
So does ND replace Charlie w/Chucky? I myself doubt it but I do think that one more loss will lead to him being dismissed at season's end....though I'm not sure who they will hire....Brian kelly and Paul Johnson would be at the top of my list...although Johnson's system would take a bit longer to implement based on the offensive talent and recruits Charlie had assembled.....your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
First, they have to decide whether to actually fire Weis. If the Irish win out, it's going to be hard to can a guy for going 9-3, isn't it? But let's say that happens. Gruden did go to high school in South Bend, but would Notre Dame want another NFL guy with little to no college experience? They tried that already. I also think they'll call Urban Meyer first, though I seriously doubt he'd take the job.
Chris (Akron, OH)
Brian, do you have any information on Noel Devine's status for Friday night?
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
Bill Stewart said he was running around at practice and looked good, though he wasn't taking contact. He said Devine would play. Though most coaches are not entirely truthful on key injuries.
Jon Parker (Syracuse, NY)
Brian, I'm a Syracuse fan through-and-through, but outside of the Orange my allegiances are all about the Big East and seeing the league getting the respect it deserves. Assuming that WVU or ND doesn't play the role of spoiler, which scenario should I be rooting for to get the most for the Big East: 1) Cinci goes undefeated and gets a BCS bowl game (although not likely the NC game), while Pitt at 10-2 has to settle for the Gator Bowl (assuming that ND doesn't get it) or more realistically the Meineke Car Care Bowl, or 2) Pitt beats Cinci and both teams finish 11-1? The BE Champ goes onto a BCS game, the other prays for an at-large bid or that ND doesn't sneak in and grab the Gator Bowl? I know the prospects of getting 2 Big East teams in the BCS are equivalent to you getting a date with [insert hot actress/model here], but should we put all of our eggs in the Cinci 12-0 basket?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
The best thing for the Big East would be to have an 11-0 Cincinnati playing a 10-1 Pitt on the final weekend and having that be an outstanding game. It would be terrific for the league if Cincinnati could play in the BCS title game, but that looks doable. The next best thing would be for either Pitt or Cincinnati to go beat the SEC runner up or another name team in the BCS bowl
Jaime (Philadelphia, PA)
Hi Brian, always enjoy your blog. I had a question about the overall view of the Rutgers 2009 Football Season. If they win out and win a bowl game they can still go 11-2, yet many are saying such a performance would still be hollow considering the 2 losses.My argument is this: a) The two losses are to teams that are a combined 17-1 and are ranked in the top 15 of the BCS and b) while everyone kept saying the offensive line that returned was veteran, nearly every other spot on both sides of the ball consist mainly of freshman and sophomore players. The starting QB, 3 of the 4 running backs and all but one of the wide receivers, as well as the starting TE and over half the defense are all underclassmen. Could it be that people we being unfair towards Rutgers having such high expectations given the extreme youth of the team?
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
The youth thing doesn't really fly with me, because the Scarlet Knights started the season with a fifth-year senior quarterback and other veterans. It was only after the first game made it clear that the young players were better did Rutgers go to a full-on youth movement. An 11-2 record would be great no matter what. The problem right now is Rutgers hasn't beaten anybody with any name value.
Chantiera (Canton, OH)
Brian, if Weis does in fact get canned, what do you think the chances are that Kelly will stay in Cincy? Cincy is going to build 2 practice fields (one of which will transform to an indoor field during the cold months), they're trying to find ideal ways to add onto Nippert, and claims they are prepared to throw more money at him in order to keep him.
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
Chantiera, if Notre Dame wants Kelly, he'll be in the moving van before the Irish can finish their offer. Just think: Notre Dame can give him $3 million or more and all the facilities in place. Cincinnati has to work to get there and doesn't have a ton of cash on hand.
Will (Washington, DC)
Brian, By the end of the season, Cincinnati's lead over Texas in the computers should grow. If Cincy jumps TCU, as they should if they win their last three games, do you think they can close the gap in votes so that they can jump Texas?
Brian Bennett (4:12 PM)
Cincinnati's schedule down the stretch will help, but remember the human polls are two-thirds of the formula. That's going to be hard to overcome, especially since Texas will almost certainly be No. 2 (with some No. 1 votes) after the SEC title game if it wins out.
Nathan (Louisville, KY)
Are Louisville fans justified in staying home so the message is clear that we want Kragthorpe gone? Or do all those empty red seats just end up making people question the seriousness of the program and the loyalty of the fanbase?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
Nathan, that message has already been delivered. If you don't want to go watch Louisville play Syracuse, nobody would blame you. But it won't change anything either way at this point.
BB Even with Weis's awful record against ranked teams, does ND even have a chance this weekend against Pitt? I think that if they can actually score in the red zone they have a chance. Dion Lewis will have 150+ rushing yards I think.
Brian Bennett (4:14 PM)
Of course Notre Dame has a chance, Nick. People overreacted to the Navy loss (understandably), but the Irish never punted, had six red zone chances and had over 500 yards but netted just 21 points. They'll be in every game because of their offense, and I expect this one to come down to the wire as well.
Mike Terzano (Old Bridge NJ)
Brian - Love your blog!!!! The BIG EAST has admitted that adding 17 members for basketball will not stop the conference on adding a ninth football member. One of the "football talking heads" stated that the BE is PRAYING for UCF to become a very strong team. And therefore, would want to join the Conference. If this happens, do you think USF will object???
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
Jim Leavitt said this summer that he'd relent in his objection to having UCF in the league if it would help the Big East. So it seems like that hurdle is out of the way. Now UCF just needs to show a pulse.
Dan (Franklin (NC))
I know there is some chest bumping with the BE having 4 ranked teams but being the games that need to play out I only see 2 teams being ranked at the end. Its not to crazy to think maybe only 1. Thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
Well, clearly West Virginia and South Florida are on the edge and both could lose this week. Rutgers could possibly move in if it keeps winning, though the schedule will be a detriment. I see no way that Pitt or Cincinnati drop out though. Pitt would have to lose its final three.
Paul (Allentown, PA)
Did Marino really throw 23 interceptions his senior year or is that a typo?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
According to Pitt's media guide he did. It also says he had 23 interceptions the year before. Crazy, huh?
How can the TOP 3 SEC teams, Alabama, Florida, LSU and Texas be in the Top 10? Has anyone viewed their schedules? Florida has one big win at LSU. Alabama has a win at 6-3 Ole Miss, LSU at 5-4 Georgia and Texas one win at OK St. How is this possible? I mean, Cincy has a better schedule than all 4.
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
The simple answer is because they all started out that high and haven't lost. And the SEC gets respect on its history and name recognition. Cincinnati's schedule has been comparable, but I don't know that it's been better yet.
Nick (Keyser, WV)
Brian, love the blog. What's the chances my Mountaineers actually pull off the huge upset Friday night? I'm thinking 1 in a million with the way their passing attack is and the uncertainty of Devine.
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
A lot more than one in a million. But if they play the way they've been playing the past few weeks, they won't have much of a chance.
Brian, I have seen many bowl projections at this point in the season. What interests me is how bowl teams are chosen in the Big East in the event that ND takes our #2 and UConn/RU/USF all become eligible, essentially leaving one team without a spectacular BE Bowl. In that scenario, some projections have UCONN going to the Insight Bowl in Phoenix as a fill in while sending Rutgers to either Birmingham or Toronto (to play Temple!). My question is, can a non BE bowl chose, lets say a Rutgers, when they are higher than UCONN in the BE Standings, and then send UCONN to the bottom tier BE Bowl site. Thanks for the input and the blog, keeps me up to date!Matt
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
Matt, bowl slotting is not an exact science or formula. Basically, the bowls, the leagues and the schools do a lot of negotiating to decide who they want, and it depends on a lot of factors like ticket sales, value of the matchup, etc. If UConn goes 6-6, though, it won't be able to go to a Big East bowl if 5 league teams finish with a winning record and the Gator Bowl is out.
As a UC student over my four years here it has gone something like this...Ben Mauk is our hero!!!...Grutza is our returning to starter senior hero!!!...Pike is our out of no where hero!!!...Zach Collaros is our shopmore backup hero!!! Does this stop here with Zach and is he our future for the next two years?
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
I think that just shows you what a great job Brian Kelly and his staff do at developing quarterbacks. Next man in, and all that.
which quarterback would you rather have for the next 3 years tom savage or bj daniels?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Well, they're both so different. Savage is a pocket guy playing in a pro system. Daniels is a scrambler playing in a spread that lets the QB run wild. They're both perfect fits. Going to be a lot of fun to watch both of them the next three years.
Kyle (Cincy, OH)
Which team's running game will take a bigger hit in the upcoming WVU vs UC game? WVU with Noel Divine coming back after an ankle injury or Jacob Ramsey not being able to go friday night for UC?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Depends on how healthy Devine actually is. Cincinnati should be OK with Isaiah Pead. And Darrin Williams is a guy to watch if he gets a chance Friday.
katherine (new york)
this is not a question but why cant each year be a clean slate? paul is right those top teams havent played much competition for them to be on top besides that they started there. history is a poor excuse. if that were the case florida state should be ranked just because "they won some national championships". maybe its just me but if a new team gets into the mix and they are beating more top ranked teams they deserve some attention, more infact, and its more exciting to see a team with no history come out a beat a team with history. theres no fun in the same ol thing!
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
I totally agree, Katherine, but this seems to be the system we're stuck with. At least teams like TCU and Cincinnati are getting a little more respect, but it's still an uphill battle.
WHY DO PEOPLE THINK THAT GRUDEN WOULD MAKE A BETTER COACH AT ND THAN KELLY? BC HE USED TO LIVE IN SOUTH BEND??? IRRELAVENT.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
Because he has a "name" and a Super Bowl ring. But I agree, he has no track record in college. Totally different games. Worked pretty well with Pete Carroll, not so much with other guys (Callahan, Weis, Groh, to name a few).
RFlayer (Edison NJ)
Hi Brian, nice blog you got. As a Rutgers fan, obviously I've been a little disappointed (albeit not surprised) by the results of their BE games so far. Care to speculate on how they'll finish against WVU, L'Ville, and USF, and the 'Cuse? Do you believe there is potential for this team to win 3 or 4 of their remaining BE games?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
They should beat Louisville and Syracuse. Toss-up game Thursday. They've got a chance against WVU the way the Mountaineers have been playing. If they can win three of those, it will be a nice season.
Dion lewis, does he a) already have the Freshman of the year award locked upand b) best nickname: Neon Dion, Shady Who, or the Spirit of St. Lewis?
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
A) Yes. B). Uh, needs more work.
bill (cincy )
after only 1 defensive let down this season why are the so called experts questioning the defense? up till uconn they only gave up 20 in any game
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
Because it's a beauty contest right now, Bill. Every flaw or hiccup is magnified.
Dion Lewis or Lesean MccoyBill Stull, or Dan Marino?I can't believe im saying this, but bill stull is playing AMAZING. i personally have booed stull countless times, should i be sticking my foot in my mouth, or is this a different dimension?
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
What Stull is doing is really pretty amazing, considering where he was at the end of last year and even the way he was playing when I saw him in spring practice. A lot of credit has to go to first-year OC Frank Cignetti for his development.
Mark (Katy, TX)
Brian, If USF wins out and keeps moving up in the polls and Pitt loses their last game to Cincy, Pitt could drop far enough after that last game that USF would be higher ranked but Pitt would be in front of them in the BE. Who gets the better bowl?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
Again, it would come down to which team the bowl thought would sell the most tickets. Pitt might have a slight upper hand because of name recognition
Michael Martinello (The Chop House)
If you could add one team to the big east- who would it be?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
Hawaii, so I could convince my bosses to send me there on assignment.
BRIAN- I NEED YOUR ADVICE!!! ok, as an nd fan, i want the irish to win at pitt. but also as an nd fan, i sometimes catch myself rooting for them to lose so that weis gets the boot. is this unnatural? how can i look at myself in the mirror?
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
It's weird, but in a way I understand. But what if they win big the last three games? Does your opinion change?
Shawn (Charleston, WV)
Should the Gator Bowl just change it's name to the "Friends of Notre Dame Bowl"? It seems like they always want to take a mediocre 7-4 ND team over a 10 win BE team. I, for one, am glad we ended this ABSOLUTELY MORONIC agreement with that bowl.
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
Notre Dame draws fans and TV ratings. Bowl games are businesses. That's all there is to it.
Greg Foley (Petersburg, WV)
WVU is so unpredictable. Jarrett Brown is the key. If he can regain the confidence he had early in the season (Prior to Auburn) they are very capable of winning out. What do you think?
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
He does need to play better, and with a little more confidence. I haven't seen him playing with the abandon he had earlier in the year, but I think injuries might have something to do with that
Kris (Hollidaysburg, Pa)
Brian, I know they don't have a great record, but UConn sems to be doing the same thing they do every year, which is play solid, though not great football. They're almost always in the games they play in (seeing as how they've lost their 5 games by an average of 3 points.) I just don't understand why so many people are dismissing their chances of beating Notre Dame. I think they have a good chance if they can score a few points, and UConn (and Pitt) beating ND has major bowl implications for the Big East.
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
UConn will be very dangerous for Notre Dame, especially if the Irish lose to Pitt this week. Who knows how many distractions there will be in South Bend for the home finale? And UConn has an extra week to prepare. But the Huskies better fix that pass defense, pronto
Do you know if Bonani is going to be kicking for USF tomorrow night?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
I have not heard anything along those lines. And Schwartz has been solid of late.
Willy Wonka (Charleston, WV)
What are your thoughts on WVU repaying Pitt back for that 2007 debacle...there are a lot of similarities going into that game...just switch the WVU name in 2007 for Pitt in 2009...
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
Not that similar. WVU was playing for the national title. And the Mountaineers were at home in the finale.
Brian, thanks for the blog. I am picking up a lot of bad vibes from you on WV game thsi friday. Taking what Cincy did agaisnt Uconn, and taking the leap that wvu can shake the funk they have been in, you telling me they STILL dont have a shot?
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
Oh, they definitely have a shot. I just haven't liked what I've seen from West Virginia the last few weeks. Have you?
bill (cincy )
would teams like boise and tcu be a better fit in the big east than ucf. then they would not have to hire pr firms to get into a bcs bowl game
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
That would make for a great football league. But the travel and geography just don't make sense.
First off lemme say that you do a great job of staying neutral in your posting. Obviously you want Cinci to win friday but you have done a good job of being unbiased when answering questions. Should WVU be happy that Pike isn't starting or is this going to be B.J. Daniels all over again?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I want Cincinnati to win? Hey, it would be nice to cover a national title game, but other than that I don't care who wins or loses. Really, does it matter if Pike or Collaros starts? Both have been spectacular. You might catch a break with Pike being rusty, but now that's not a concern.
Renee (Howell, NJ)
Brian you are cute!!! I will be at the game on thursday night-Rutgers. I been to the bowl games at AZ, TX and Canada.. 2 of 3 of those games the stadium was half full with RU fans in RED. How do they say RU does not travel well.... is someone from the Bowls looking to pick on RU fans??
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
Renee, clearly you need to get your eyes checked. Rutgers has traveled pretty well, and that New York market is very appealing to bowls. The Scarlet Knights just need to win a few more games.
Which game(s) are you attending this week(end)?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
I will be in Nippert on Friday night and then will check out Louisville-Syracuse on Saturday. Mark Schlabach will be at Pitt-Notre Dame.
What do you think the odds of weis getting fired are if the Irish go:1)9-3 with bowl win2)9-3 with bowl loss3)8-4 bowl win4)8-4 bowl loss or anything worse
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
Nick, I don't think the bowl result will matter. By then, you're already into January and you're behind the eight ball in terms of getting a new coach in place. 9-3 will be hard to fire him. Anything less and it will be hard to keep him.
What are your thoughts on the USF v Rutgers game? Do you think USF will suffer from its usual "Thursday-Night" syndrome, or does the win against WVU show that they're not the same old Bulls?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
In some ways, this is a bigger test than the WVU game. Even in the years where USF struggled in midseason, the Bulls always played West Virginia well. And they were at home. I want to see them go on the road and break a three-game losing streak and the Thursday night jinx before I declare this a new USF.
USF, as a fan and an Alum, I want to see them finish out the BE with wins against RU, U of L, and UConn. But to be honest, the game that I want to see the most would be a win against Miami! It will do as much if not more for the USF program in the State of Florida than finishing out the BE games with W?s. My question is, is what will a USF win over Miami do for the BE given the earlier win against FSU, if anything given all the talk about legacy teams?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
I agree, Scott. Look, the best USF can hope for in the Big East is a third-place finish. Beating FSU and Miami in the same year would be far more memorable. And the Miami win would be bigger, because the FSU win has lost some luster with the way the Seminoles have played since then.
BB, i have season tickets to the bearcats, wanna come tailgate with us before the game? Myers Alumni parking lot. come have a beer with us!
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
If you're still around at about 2 am when I'm finished writing, I'll be there
Tom Haverford (Indiana)
Which will have a bigger impact Saturday night? Pitt's run game or ND's pass game?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
Pitt's run game. It's the key to their whole offense, since it sets up the play-action game. Notre Dame's defense isn't good enough to stop both the run and the pass
Dan (Greenville, SC )
Who do you think is making the biggest move in the Heisman race?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
It's so jumbled right now. Case Keenum is putting up numbers that are getting hard to ignore, though.
Do you still like Pitt over Notre Dame this week?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Predictions come out tomorrow, Tom, but I've been saying Pitt wins that game since the spring. Hint, hint.
Mike (Storrs, CT)
Why does the Big East keep ND around in all other sports? Isn't it time for the league to show them the door?
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
Because they generate interest and revenue. If you don't believe me, check out what happens whenever the Irish come to town in one of the non-revenue Big East sports. Attendance soars.
bill (cincy )
why does'nt notre dame football play in the big east when their bb team does
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
I can name that tune in three letters:NBC
If Collaros keeps starting and having the numbers he has been having, is he a legitimate candidate for the H. Trophy?
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
Nope. Not enough games.
pete (tupelo, ms)
BB...ND's defense which everyone thought was going to be great. D backs and Line backers are killing us. Lets not forget the LT Paul Duncan..what has happen since the start of spring for these guys to play the way they have? It seems like they put all of their efforts into the Nevada game.
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
I'm not sure who thought ND's defense would be great. The defensive backs have been highly disappointing
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
OK, that's all I've got time for. Sorry things slowed down there at the end but I had to take a phone call. Thanks for all the questions, and good luck to your teams this weekend.