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. Lots going on, from expansion talk to coaching changes .. and that's not even including the bowls. So let's talk all about it.
J.D. Springer (Greensboro, NC)
WVU recruiting guru Doc Holliday to Marshall as head coach: How much does this hurt the Mountaineers and does he take any assistants with him?
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
That's the word; we're just waiting for official confirmation. I think it can only hurt West Virginia's recruiting in Florida. No word yet on assistants.
honest opinion if you had to choose between rutgers, syracuse, or pitt to go to the big ten which do you pick and why?
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
If I'm the Big Ten and I'm picking between those three, I'd take Rutgers. Biggest potential market, giant alumni base.
Kenneth (Louisville KY)
Brian - if Villanova wins the 1-AA football title on Friday, do you think the school should consider moving up to the Big East in football? We need a 9th member BADLY!
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
I'm not sure any school should base that kind of decision on one game. The issues remain money and a place for Villanova to play. It would be the easiest solution to the Big East's problems, but so far Villanova has shown no inclination of stepping up.
Can somebody remind the mad Cincinnati fans that 1. BK gave you the best three years in history that can never be taken away. 2. Its Notre Dame. I mean, if you had asked Cinci fans three years ago if they wanted a coach for three years only and they would win 2 BE Championships, I believe they would have said yes.
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
I couldn't agree more. I think when the initial hurt feelings wear off and cooler heads prevail, Cincinnati fans will see that, too
Andrew (Storrs, CT)
I'm excited at the prospect of UConn playing against the SEC, which I guess you could argue is the toughest conference in the country. Granted it is more dominant than the Big East, but we've proven we can hang with the best in country, as shown by close games between UNC, Cinci, Pitt, and wins against Notre Dame and USF. Ok, so maybe a weak ND team win doesn't count for much - but is this the year we get that SEC win? What do we need to do this time around to finish a game out against South Carolina, and do you think the Huskies can pull off the upset?
Brian Bennett (4:07 PM)
South Carolina is not a great team. UConn has a terrific chance of pulling this win off it can maintain its recent offensive balance. South Carolina's offense is weak, too, which should help UConn's shaky defense. I think it will be extremely close.
Jake (Erie, PA)
Hey Brian, i was reading one of your latest post's on the Big Ten expansion and it occured to me that Pitt has the least cons and most pros. Do you think that Pitt is the best choice for the Big Ten? Also, I was wondering why Cincinnati was not on your list.
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
One con I should have mentioned for Pitt is that it doesn't really add a new market. There are already tons of Penn State fans in western Pennsylvania. As for Cincinnati, I just don't see it as a fit in terms of profile. It's an urban public school and the Big Ten has no schools like that.
Steve (South Bend)
Ivan Maisel is saying ND should join the Big Ten. I think it would be a terrible decision for the school--give up the TV network, have to play a regional schedule when the school has a national fan/student/alumni base. What do you think?
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
I see no incentive for Notre Dame ever to join a conference as long as it has its own network, a special entry into the BCS and can keep all its revenue. What is the incentive?
Brian, despite what Rutgers would like you to think, nobody in NY cares about Rutgers. If Rutgers had control over the NY market, why isn't it helping the Big East now?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
That may be true about New York City but there's still a huge population center in New Jersey, and NYC would support a winner. TV markets will be huge in this decision.
Andrew (Rutgers Library)
Brian as an active follower of your blog I'm taking a step away from studying for my finals to chat with you. I read that Missouri may be leading the way for the Big 10 expansion, what makes them a better addition than a school like Rutgers?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
I don't want to be responsible for you failing, so I'd better answer this quickly. Geography, for one. Missouri fits in extremely well with the footprint of the Big Ten. And it already has built-in rivals with Illinois and Iowa, as well as a huge market for the Big Ten with St. Louis and Kansas City.
Tom (Stamford, CT)
If the Big 10 expands and takes Missouri, and the Big 12 replaces them with Arkansas, then could you see the SEC grabbing either Louisville or West Virginia??
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
I would think the Big 12 would take TCU. I doubt any SEC teams leave, given how much money they're rolling in right about now.
Brian, if you were the Big East Commissioner and could drop the bottom four basketball only schools and add 4 football members would you? Which four would they be assuming you could add any teams you choose (within geographical reason)?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
I think four is too many. The Big East doesn't need a 12-team football league. Nine or 10 members would be fine. In a perfect world, I'd say drop DePaul and Seton Hall and pick up Central Florida while persuading BC to come back. Sounds so easy, doesn't it?
Terry (The 'Burgh)
Will fear of a Big 10(11) raid finally prompt BEast to urgently expand football (i.e., expand or fold)? Too many lame excuses out of Providence about no ?ideal fits,? not nearly enough action. It?s kinda like singles bars: perfection standards slip as closing time looms.
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
I think the Big East needs to seriously study the issue again, but to add a team for the sake of adding one would be a mistake. There needs to be a good fit, and so far, there's no obvious choice.
I know its over and done with and some people are tired of talking about it, but the fact that Texas got into the NC game over TCU or UC is mind boggling to me. Please answer me this, Texas proved this year that there is absolutely no reason for a big time program (the Texas', Ohio States, USC's of the world) to schedule a tough out of conference game. Texas beat NO ONE and the Big twelve stunk, but they still got in, do you think this might affect how these programs schedule in the future? Will they be even more wary to schedule a Big East team over a Southeast missouri St. for instance?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
Yes, but I don't think it's all that new. Look how the SEC schedules. It doesn't seem to hurt them, either.
I dont recall over 200 yards rushing and 3 passing TD's against Clemson who had the most INT's of any NCAA team being a weak offense? Is this a Big East bias?
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
He's referring to South Carolina, in case you missed it. Well, I'm sure I could point to any one single game to make a case for a team, but that's what is called a small sample size, Joey. South Carolina was 96th in the country in scoring, 91st in rushing and 76th in total offense this season. I think that can be considered weak by most definitions of the word.
Do you think that now is the best time for the B10 to expand because the Big East is on the rise? I think they want to take a Big East team so they can break the Big East conference before it rises again. A strong Big East really hurt the Big Ten in national perception (Cinci better than OSU, Pitt better than Penn State)
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
I doubt the Big Ten is concerning itself with any of that. It is merely looking at the need for a championship game and a new market for the Big Ten network
Could the UCF-Rutgers game be seen as like an entrance exam to the Big East for UCF? If they do well in the game against RU do they become a strong candidate for the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
Again, you never want to overreact to one game. But Big East officials obviously will be watching, and a good performance both on the field and in the stands from UCF could serve as an audition of sorts
Bryan (Pittsburgh, PA)
Can the Big East survive a Pitt, Syracuse, or Rutgers leaving? Especially with no obvious choices to step up to fill in?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Survive? Yes. Thrive? That would be tough.
In the past, you've mentioned that USF can't dump Leavitt for financial reasons, does this recent incident give them the window they're looking for?
Brian Bennett (4:25 PM)
I want to be careful here, because we're not sure of all the facts and there's an investigation going on. But generally speaking, an incident like the one alleged could give a university cause to fire a coach and not have to pay the full terms of the deal.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
Speaking of which, just got a statement from USF saying they have interviewed Leavitt and the player involved and that the investigation is continuing.
Would you like to see pre-season rankings thrown out the window? Everyone starts with 0 votes and then see who are the 25 best teams after everyones played
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
Sure, but as long as there are magazines and newspapers to sell and web hits to generate and fans gobbling that stuff up, it will never change.
David (Downers Grove, IL)
Hi Brian! Do you think Butch Davis is the best hire for UC? Will he be able to keep up the offensive production there? Also, I'm a bit worried about Bob Diaco leaving, it seems like transitioning from the 3-4 to something else could be a lot to ask for from a defense.
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
I assume you mean Butch Jones. And I think it's a really good, sensible hire. He's an offensive guy and his teams have scored a lot of points, so that part should be fine. As far as the 3-4, I think that's a little overblown. Cincinnati often had its fourth linebacker line up with his hand down in a real 4-3 alignment. Shouldn't change too much.
Over/under: 4 wins for the Big East this bowl season
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Hmmm ... I'll take the under.
Janine Lindemulder (San Fernando, CA)
Who will win between TCU vs. Texas?
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
Wasn't aware they were playing.
Why do USF and Rutgers fans keep wanting to toss their coaches under the bus? They built your programs from nothing into something. Be patient and wait.
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
What program's fans aren't always criticizing their coach, unless he's winning big every season? That said, it's time for Schiano and Leavitt to get over the hump one of these days. Soon.
Why not ECU? I don't know that the BE needs another Florida school in the BE, and ECU has been very competitive, and would be even more so if they got better recruits due to being in a BCS conference. Looks like they may keep Holtz for another year, and being invited into a BCS conference could help them keep him for even longer.
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
It's a possibility. I just don't know how much prestige ECU brings, and it adds nothing in basketball.
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
I think this is a potentially dangerous matchup for Rutgers, especially if Tim Brown can't go. And even if he can, he won't be 100 percent. That takes away from the passing game and Rutgers isn't great running the ball to begin with. I like the Scarlet Knights still, but by an eyelash
Do you think S Florida will come motivated to play in Canada? Or do you think the disappointment in the bowl selected, in addition to the off the field distractions will make them complacent?
Brian Bennett (4:35 PM)
It's going to be tough, with all that and an opponent (Northern Illinois) whose name probably doesn't get the pulse racing for South Florida's players. The Bulls are so unpredictable, though. Sometimes they come out fiery and emotional and other times flat as a pancake.
Janine Lindemulder (San Fernando, CA)
All right, Mr. Smart Aleck. Who would win between TCU vs. Texas?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
Just kidding with you there, Janine. Glad you wrote back. I think TCU is a better overall team. In fact, I like TCU and Cincinnati (with Kelly) better than Texas.
Mike (Waltham MA)
ECU adds more in basketball than Seton Hall, Depaul and St. Johns do while adding to football.
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
How so? They were 13-16 in a crummy league last year and are 4-5 right now. At least the other schools have tradition and are natural rivals with other Big East teams.
What do you think the chances of Cincy three-peating are?
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
There will still be plenty of talent to work with, particularly on offense with Collaros, Pead, Binns, Hazelton, etc. You have to make them one of the favorites, even with the coaching transition.
RIGHT, can't say anything bad about ND on here? Seriously, in all honesty do you think they will win 6 games next year?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
You can say anything you want here. Let's look at the schedule. Home games against Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, Western Michigan, Tulsa, Utah, Pitt and Army in Yankee Stadium. At USC, Michigan State, BC and Navy. Challenging but not overly so. I believe in Kelly, so I'd say over on the six wins.
Perfect scenario right? Va Tech and Maimi move back to the Big East freeing up a school to move to the Big 10. Then Ga Tech moves to the SEC and the rest of the ACC football conference is dissolved leaving only the basketball conference, good right? I mean nobody watches ACC football anyway
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
This is usually where I say, and Natalie Portman decides to go out with me.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
With Coach Strong coming in and already scoring some new commitments (in addition to keeping quite a few of the Kragthorpe commitments), does Louisville have a repeat performance of last year? Are they going to be competitive in games, but still have trouble finishing, and do they finish tied for bottom in the big east?
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
Boy, I don't see a lot of talent on that roster. Commitments are nice, but you don't win with a bunch of true freshmen. If Strong could get them to a bowl game next year, he'd be the Big East coach of the year.
Greg Schiano (St. Pete)
Brian, what do we need to do to end this season with a win over UCF?
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
I think you need to have some success with the Wildcat and loosen up that run 'D' with some downfield passing. And more importantly, the defense and special teams are going to have to create opportunities in what I think may be a low-scoring contest.
Brian, have you ever seen a bigger bunch of cry babies as the Cincy fans right now? Please remind them that Cincy "stole" Kelly from CMU in 2006 and that they were insignificant before that...and will now be insignificant again.
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
I just think this happens anytime a successful coach leaves for another program. Feelings get hurt. Hard to blame somebody for taking a job where their salary gets doubled and they get more resources to do their business. Only in sports would we even think to criticize somebody for doing that.
Bennett, how do you expect them to get to 6 wins, if they don't have a QB? He might be ready for spring practice? They might go 1-5 in their first 6. Michigan is in year 3 of RR, Stanford crushed them, Pitt beat them, so did Navy. USC will beat them. I see 3 wins tops for ND. 3-9, then 5-7 and 7-5, Kelly fired and NBC drops their contract, ND moves to the B10 and Kelly in the MAC. Right it down.
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
First of all, have you seen what Kelly has done with quarterbacks? And Crist is pretty good. The key won't be on offense, but in getting that defense to resemble something that can stop somebody
Joe (Chapel Hill, NC)
If conference title games were not allowed is there any reason for a conference to get as large as 12? I say no. I'd like conference title games to be done away with but I'm not holding my breath.
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
I think the Pac-10 model, with a true round robin of nine league games is perfect. Other than the SEC, league title games haven't really succeeded.
William (San Diego)
The Big East really lost their chances to compete for a National Championship 2 years ago when West Virginia had the choke job of the century against Pitt. Do you see the Big East getting the same treatment like non-BCS schools when it comes to playing for the National Championship? Considering TCU would have jumped Cincy
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
I don't buy that at all. This was just a fluky year with so many undefeated teams. And I think Cincinnati would be in Pasadena if Texas lost, not TCU
I hope very much that Natalie Portman is a fan of a Big East school and reads the blog and now realizes the world would be better with a little Brian Bennett in her life.
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
I'm sure she reads it on her Blackberry while on set.
How bout Cincy go to the Big 10? Then you could finally give Ohio St a big in state rival
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Ohio State doesn't need an in-state rival. It has Michigan
Bennett, you mean with QBs he doesn't recuit? I KNOW, he is awesome at it.
Brian Bennett (4:51 PM)
He recruited Zach Collaros. That guy is pretty good.
Larry (Glendale, CA)
What would the Big Ten call themselves after they add the 12th team? The Big 12 is already taken.
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
Excellent question. Maybe the Big T1e2n?
Michael Martinello (Tampa Bound...)
Brian- what happens first: Rutgers wins the Big East title or jumps to the Big10?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
Well, it's going to be two or three years before there's any real movement in the Big Ten expansion. Rutgers needs to break through before then.
Charlie Strong (Louisville)
I wasn't joking when I asked the media about what players were on my team. What talented guys do I have?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Three good running backs (Anderson, Powell and Ashley). Some decent receivers (Beaumont, Chichester). A good corner (Johnny Patrick). And, um, so how about that Sugar Bowl, Charlie?
Did Brian Kelly overlook the fact that he is still going to have you hounding him at Notre Dame?
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
If he had known that, no way he takes the job.
Why does the Big East still not get any respect? Louisville in 2006 was one loss from the NC, same for WVU in 2007. And I agree that UC would have jumped TCU had Texas lost.
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
I think the respect is building, especially after a good regular season this year. I haven't heard a whole lot of Big East bashing lately. Just keep winning, not whining.
Terry (The 'Burgh)
Another stop-watch to set in South Bend (besides punt hang times and 40-yard dashes): Brian Kelly's first hot-seat rumor? Think he makes it to February signing day?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
There is non-stop pressure there, but that's the same at all big-time jobs. I think he'll win. The question is whether he'll win big enough to keep everybody happy and whether that's even possible anymore
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
OK, folks, I've got to jump off and check out the Butch Jones press conference at Cincinnati. Thanks for all the questions. First bowl games start Saturday. Enjoy.