Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football as he is visiting Notre Dame.
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 3 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (3:01 PM)
Greetings from South Bend
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
I'm up here to check out the Irish spring as it draws to a close. We can talk about that, the Big East, expansion or whatever. Fire away
Mark (Harrisburg, PA)
I'm worried about Pitt with all this reshuffling. Optimally, I'd like the Big East to remain intact, but that is looking to be extremely unlikely. What happens to Pitt in the event that the Big Ten expands to 14 or 16 and Pitt is not included? To me, they don't seem like a natural fit in any of the remaining conferences, but the closest being the ACC.
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
I think Pitt is going to be fine. Good overall sports program, big market. The Big Ten presidents love the academics, even if it's not a new TV market for the league.
Scott (Long Island)
Syracuse turned down the ACC a few years ago, why wouldn't they turn down the Big 10 given the same chance? Can't the Big East survive if they decide to bring in 4 teams quickly and get a conference title game?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
Because the Big Ten is offering a whole lot more money than the ACC ever was, that's why.
Brian (Lansing, MI)
Will Brian Kelly get ND to play some defense?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
That's the key question, isn't it? That's what I'm here to ask about. Bob Diaco has his work cut out for him. But, hey, it can't get much worse, right?
Mark (Harrisburg, PA)
Any insight you can give on the CB situation at Pitt?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
I can. Antwuan Reed has looked really good and will start at one of the spots. Juco trasfer Saheed Imoru is trying to lock down the other spot, but Buddy Jackson will push him with healthy. I think the Panthers could be better off there than they were last year.
Skip Holtz (Florida)
Brian Kelly has not shown he can "maintain" a program as Jack Swarbrick wanted. Once Grand Valley became a power, he left in a few years. Same at CMU and Cincy. What makes anyone think he can do that at ND? And when do I get my shot?
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
If Kelly can guide Notre Dame to 33 wins in three years like he did at Cincinnati, I think the Irish would take that
hey brian, with the big east potentially being raided, what are the odds louisville possibly joins the acc or sec? or would we go back to the awful conf usa? thanks
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
It's a dicey situation. If the SEC expands, you've got to think it looks to Texas and the Florida schools first. Louisville and West Virginia's best shot might be in getting to a reformatted ACC.
Cool Sun 13 (Morgantown)
What is the deal with QB obsession throughout the last 10 yrs. I mean for ex. when people mention about a team's best players like Iowa's for Heisman. A QB is always the 1st person talked about, Stanzi isn't even that good. RB Adam Robinson of Iowa was a Heisman candidate earlier last season until his injury and Adrian Clayborn is household name like Ndamukong Suh. Why not mention those guys first?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
I'd have to disagree. You can't win without a good quarterback. It's the most important position on the field.
If the Big East gives ND an all or nothing ultimatum, doesn't that force them (ND) to look to the Big 10? Then, wouldn't that probably satisfy the Big 10, and preserve the conference?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
It's a gamble the league might have to take, but I'm not so sure Notre Dame would then automatically join the Big Ten. The Irish could always go play basketball in the Atlantic 10 or something. They won't make their decision based on basketball and women's soccer. It's all about football
CR (Tampa, FL)
Would USF, who is in the 13th largest media market, an up and coming program, could pack Ray Jay with 50K+ consistently, really be left out of all this conference reshuffling?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
I'd be worried, because of USF's lack of tradition and overall sports program, and the fact that the ACC and SEC might not want another Florida influence in their leagues.
Dave (Florence, Italy)
Greetings from Italy, love the blog and am a faithful reader. It's hard to keep up with my Scarlet Knights over here but you sure do help. What do you think are some of the key goals that RU needs to accomplish in their coming spring game? Hypothetically speaking, if Sanu and Savage get drafted to go to the NFL in a few years where is the highest you can see them being picked?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
You mean they're not talking Scarlet Knights football in Florence? Odd. Anyway, spring games are overrated, but Rutgers' biggest need is to continue and develop that offensive line. It's a little bit of a mess right now and will be the key to the year. Savage and Sanu each have first-round talent, but that's a long way away.
Brian Bennett (3:19 PM)
The Big East just announced it has hired Paul Tagliabue to help with "strategic planning." Interesting, huh?
Brian, Why would the SEC have any interest in expanding? even if the rest reshuffles, the SEC makes more money per school than any other conference. Why share that amongst more schools?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
Not true, Ken. The Big Ten paid out $22 mill per school last year, and the SEC is about $17 mill per school. A 16-team Big Ten could make that gap even larger, and the SEC might want to keep up.
How would ND, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, and UConn (basically, all of the expansion candidates from the Big East) do in football if they would play in the Big10 this fall?
Brian Bennett (3:21 PM)
While I don't think any would win the league, all would be very competitive. Remember that Syracuse beat one Big Ten team and took another to overtime last year. Notre Dame always competes against Big Ten schools.
Chris (Wallingford, CT)
This expansion talk has always been about ND. Information, whether true or not, has been leaked with a purpose. So Delany is now sticking to his original timeline of 12-18 months. Doesn't this mean that Swarbrick didn't take the bait? Nobody has shown me how per team revenue would be increased by adding more than 1 team. Why chop the pot by 16 or 14 when you can split it 12 ways? Makes no sense.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
I'm no economist, Chris, but the way it's been explained to me is that new teams will bring added subscription fees and more advertising for the Big Ten Network. That could mean a much bigger pot to split even among more teams.
John (Pueblo, CO)
What Big East teams do you feel are "really" in the mix for Big Ten membership?
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, UConn. And probably pretty close to being in that order.
james (Denver, CO)
Any word on who will be the number two receiver for RU
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
Mark Harrison and Tim Wright have both looked really good this spring. They should get a lot of playing time.
IF the Big Ten takes 4 teams from the Big East, what happens to the Bearcats? The facilities are improving and the football team has done really well the last few years. It seems as if they would continue to improve if given the chance in another BCS conference if the Big East folds.
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
Cincinnati might need to worry the most. It's not a natural fit anywhere, doesn't have a strong overall athletic program and has a small stadium. I honestly don't know where the Bearcats end up, but they should be nervous right now.
If the Huskies safeties can show up, do they become the team to beat in the Big East? Their offense (best line in the BE) will be great and you know the linebackers are awesome...
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
I wouldn't go so far as say team to beat. I still think that belongs to Cincinnati, and to a lesser extent, Pitt. But UConn can be really good if it figures out the secondary. That's a big if. And the depth at LB is a concern.
How bad is the loss of A.J. Love going to hurt USF this year? Any sign of Lamar turning into a serviceable receiver or is he still a year or two away?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
It's a tough loss for the kid and for the team. The Bulls just don't have a lot of experience or any true No. 1 type guy at receiver. I think Lamar is going to be more of a slot guy they use on screens and slants and get him in open space. They still need Bogan or someone else to become a true deep threat
Dave (Charlotte, NC)
Although they're not saying much, the Big Ten and Pac 10 have been pretty open about their expansion intentions. This makes the ACC look bad in the way they expanded in 2003 doesn't it? From start to finish it was shady.
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
It does, and I think the Big Ten learned a public relations lesson from that.
Ryan (San Diego, CA)
What player did you see while at Pitt that has flown under the radar but could make a real contribution this coming season?
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
I mentioned Antwuan Reed. Greg Cross has come on at receiver, as well as Devin Street. Tristan Roberts could easily win the starting outside linebacker job.
Hey Brian. I love your blog! The WVU safety combination of Robert Sands and Sidney Glover should be, in my rather biased opinion, the best in the country. What do you think?
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
That might be a bit lofty, but that duo has a chance to be really good. Sands is a monster and could be in line for a huge year.
Is there an NCAA rule prohibiting the Big East from bringing in ND as a football member but then allowing them certain exceptions (i.e. allowing them to keep all current contracts they hold, scheduling fewer conference games, giving more home games than other conference teams (on a % basis))?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
There are no rules of that kind as far as I'm aware Conferences can pretty much do whatever they want
Jeremy (San Francisco)
Given the history of Brian Kelly, how quickly do you feel he can turn this ND program or can he at all? From everything I am reading it seems as if he is starting over. Are the athletes he has returning that bad?
Willy Wonka (Charleston WV)
Greetings from the Chocolate Factory, Brian! My oompa loompas showed me the video this morning with you and Devine. He struck me as a polished, well-spoken, focused young man. What do you think the biggest difference in Devine has been since he came in to the BE as a freshman?
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
He's a lot more mature and sure of himself. On the field, he's learned to be more patient and wait for the blocks instead of trying to cut back and reverse field.
Will the Notre Dame offensive and defensive lines improve this year? It seemed like they were a weak point last season?
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
I thought the offensive line was good enough to win last year, while the defensive line was definitely not. The O-line will be playing with a totally different scheme, and it's not as important to hold onto your blocks in the spread. You've just got to slow the defense down. The D-line seems more suited to the 3-4, so perhaps that will show some improvement.
Follow up question...if Tags is on board in the BE for 'strategic planning', could they possibly raid the ACC? Could they offer more in the way of money because the ACC title game is no where near the cash cow they made it out to be. Could the BE say we'll have a title game that WILL generate money? Thanks again!
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
Where is the money going to come from? The Big Ten generates its revenue through its TV network and (usually) two BCS games per year. The Big East is about to renegotiate its TV deal, but I wouldn't expect a huge contract coming.
What do you think of WVU's QB of the future, Geno Smith?
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
I like him a lot, and I have a big story coming on him tomorrow in the blog.
Do you think Crist could be another 1st Round Notre Dame QB??
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
Let's see him start a game in college first.
How much do you think Bill Stewart was talking out of school when he said that WVU will end up in some BCS league? Being a Moutaineer fan I hope, and think, that they will end up somewhere. Thanks! And, I hope you still have something to right about next fall!
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
I think he was giving his personal opinion on the matter, and that he'll end up being proven right
Is Devine the front-runner for the Heisman?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
The front runner among West Virginians, yes
Dave (Charlotte, NC)
Many media types rank Big Ten candidates mostly by their market size. Why? The Big East has plenty of schools in big cities, yet they have low attendance, low fan bases, and I'm assuming low TV ratings. The end result is a league that won't be around much longer.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
It's about TV and entry points for the Big Ten Network. It is ironic that the Big East is located in some of the nation's most populated areas, yet is the most vulnerable BCS league.
Michael (Syracuse, NY)
Do you think that with how well the offense looked in the spring game, SU has a shot at a bowl game with the experience of the linebacking corp and an improving/attacking offensive scheme?Wouldn't mind playing the first bowl at new Yankee Stadium
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
Getting to 6-6 shouldn't be that difficult for this team, especially if it schedules a patsy for that last nonconference game. The Orange were just a couple of points away from 6-6 last year.
Rocket (South Bend)
It seems the big boost of revenue for the Big Ten is the Big Ten Network. If this has been so successful, why haven't we seen equivalent networks for the other BCS conferences popping up? Is there a reason they are all slow to the punch?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
Remember that people made fun of the idea when it started. Part of the reason is the Big Ten has schools with enormous alumni bases that are rabid about their programs. And the league beat everybody to the punch on this one.
Who has the best offensive line in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
Good question. I'd vote UConn.
Steve (Camp Hill, PA)
What are the chances of a redshirt freshman starting at right tackle or right guard for WVU next year. Stewart doesn't seem to enthusiastic about the right side of the line
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
Chances are probably better at RT than RG. That's the one spot without a veteran from last year's line at the moment.
Hey Brian have you noticed that there seems to be a large amount of RU fans in Europe on these chats/mailbags recently? What do you make of that?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
That is true. Witness protection, perhaps? (I kid, I kid).
Chris (Broadview Heights, OH)
I'm in Big 10 country and I'm very much against conference expansion. From a football standpoint, I feel it "waters down" year-end rivalries and will probably water down the overall product. Is anyone thinking about this from a football perspective? Or is everyone just thinking about cash implications?
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
It's all about cash. There's no doubt in my mind it hurts the product. Think about a 16-team league. If you play eight conference games, seven in your division and one cross-division, then there are seven teams you never play against in your own conference. That's crazy.
What do you think of the suggestion by the former SU Athletic Director that there will soon be 4 super conferences and these leagues will break away from the NCAA? Is that really a possibility? Sounds a little absurd, but I respect the man for his service to the school so I was wondering your thoughts on the matter
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
I think that's a very real possibility, and it's something that's been talked about for a while.
Austin (The Ville)
We're coming to you live here on ESPN9, the Cardinals, the Horned Frogs, it's Conference USA action!
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
Tyler (Ft. Wayne, IN)
What are your overall expectations of Dayne Crist? .... Could you see him putting up big "Heisman" like numbers within his first or second year as a starter?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Look at the numbers of previous Brian Kelly quarterbacks. If he stays healthy and keeps the job, he'll put up big stats. Heisman consideration will be all about how much the team wins.
daniel (greenville, NC)
What are your thoughts about ECU breaking into the Big East? After our stadium renovation we will have 50k seats, that is more than most Big East Schools.. If the Big east took ECU then they would have a stake in ACC country.. What are your thoughts on that?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
ECU would be competitive, but I don't think it adds much prestige from a national perspective.
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
That's all my time for this week. Thanks for all the questions.