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)
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big East/Notre Dame chat.
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
It's Wednesday, or as we think of it where I am, Derby eve eve eve. Fire away with your best questions
BB, good job so far on the coverage of spring hopefully you'll be able to keep it up during the slow months ahead. My question stems from Jorge Wright's recent arrest. It seems Bill Stewarts suspensions are typically short, but the appear to be effective (see Jock Sanders & Brandon Hogan, the latter of which didn't get in trouble again until after he was out of the program). Do you see this suspension being a long one, or do you think Stew will straighten him out before fall camp starts?
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
As I wrote yesterday, Stewart has shown that he won't sit a player out of much game action if that player meets other disciplinary standards. All cases are different, and we don't know for sure what kind of kid Wright has been the past few years inside the program, but I'd expect to see him in the opener.
Bill (New Haven)
ND has so few scholariship RBs. Did Kelly indicate what his solution is to a potentially big problem?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
He believes incoming freshmen Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson will add to the depth behind Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Gray is a key figure this season, I think.
With Coleman and Harrison looking like studs at WR, is it just me, or do you think that Sanu should move to safety. I know he is a good WR, but i think his most naturally gifted position, and with all of the depth at WR with Coleman, Harrison, Pratt, Wright etc, i think bulking up the talent on the defense is more of a necessity then having an overloaded amount of skill players.
Brian Bennett (4:06 PM)
Why can't he play both, and punt? Seriously, I think it's a good move to keep him at receiver for now. The Rutgers offense needs to improve, and as good as the wideouts looked this spring, only Harrison has ever done anything when it counts. Plus, David Rowe looked good at free safety this spring.
bullaficianado (Lakeland, Fl)
Why do you think that USF has been a "NFL Draft Factory" for Defensive Backs?
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
The St. Petersburg Times' Greg Auman pointed that out. Clearly, the Bulls have been able to recruit speed at that position from their home base, and don't forget that former coach Jim Leavitt was a DB and a DB coach, so he did a good job evaluating talent there. What's odd to me is that the program has had trouble developing top-notch receivers given all the speed in Florida.
Debartalo (Route 6 Farmington)
Do you think any Big East team will finish in the Top 10 this season?
Brian Bennett (4:10 PM)
West Virginia has the best chance. If I had to guess, though, I'd say not this year.
Big B (New Jersey)
What do you think the realistic chances of Russel Wilson going to a Big East school. Also who would be your odds on favorite?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
Not very high. UConn and Louisville are the only two schools who don't have a returning starting QB. I bet he winds up in the SEC or goes to baseball full time.
Brian, I can't quite feel comfortable with the Notre Dame quarterback situation.Do you feel more confident then I do?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
There are a whole lot more options than there were last year at this time, that's for sure. Ultimately, I think it comes down to how much Dayne Crist has improved. I expect him to be better.
Ryan, C (Kuwait)
Isn't UConn the perfect place for Russell Wilson....granted no football powerhouse, but the chance to play right away for a team coming off a BCS appearance as well as a baseball team that is on the rise, becoming a force to be reckoned with?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
He really wouldn't have to worry about playing time. The thing is for UConn, they'd essentially be giving up a year of progress for the next quarterback, as all four candidates are inexperienced right now. It might be worth it, though, because that defense is built to win right away.
Brian, do you think floyd plays in the opener?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
My gut says he'll be suspended for the opener. But no one knows for sure right now what Kelly will do.
Travis C. (Lake Highlands)
Thoughts on the Pac 12 contract, and what that portends for the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:18 PM)
Stunned by the huge numbers. It shows what an appetite there is for college sports programming. You have to wonder how much space will be left on ESPN for Big East football games. This should also drive up rights for the league since it is the last major property left. I'm sure it made perfect sense at the time, but the Big East has to wish its contract wasn't valid through 2013 right about now. The iron is hot.
I don't really see a problem with WVU's RB situation. It seems as though there are quite a few backs that have a lot of potential competing for the job. If it is a problem, I'd say its a good problem to have. Do you agree?
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
To mangle a saying, if you have five running backs, you don't have any running backs. WVU has plenty of candidates, but no standouts yet along the lines of Kendall Hunter. I think they'll be OK, but you'd feel much better if there were a Slaton or Devine in the bunch.
Turnovers, & a lack of creating them, crushed the Bearcats last year. Why should we expect an improvement this year?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
Turnovers are often one of the most difficult things to predict. The good news is that there's rarely any carryover effect. I know Butch Jones and his staff worked hard on it this spring, and Zach Collaros should be smarter with the ball as a senior. We'll see. The defense needs to create some takeaways, too.
JH (Cary, NC)
WVU had over 800 yards total offense and 12 receivers with catches in their spring game. Realizing it was the O vs D, modified scoring system and only 10 minutes quarters of which they let the clock run continuously after the Josh Jenkins injury in the third. Think it's possible WVU may put up some crazy video game numbers like this in a real game this fall?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
Keep in mind that the offense was going against the No. 2 defense and did not look that potent in most of the spring prior to that against the 1s. Still, I do think WVU's offense will be very, very good this year, just based on Holgorsen's track record. Wouldn't be surprised if they were in the top 10 or top 15 nationally in offense
Which team do you think has the best chance of having a major fall off this year, similar to Rutgers and UC last year?
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
I'd have to say it's UConn. No proven QB, Todman is gone, new coaching philosophies. And remember the Huskies had their best season ever last year and only finished 8-5. So they have more potential to fall off than anyone, though the nonconference schedule is very easy
Too leach off the Sanu comment before, any chance you can see him moved to TE in the middle of the year, i can see them with some double tight formations with Sanu and D.C. Jefferson lined up off the tackles. Sanu is a workout machine and could bulk up even more; I can see Sanu molding in to a Vernon Davis type TE
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
I think Sanu could play anywhere on the field he wants, and Rutgers should exploit that versatility. I see him as a slot guy and maybe Cignetti uses him the way he did Dorin Dickerson at Pitt.
brian, does your girlfriend know about your obsession w/ bilson?
Brian Bennett (4:27 PM)
She's very patient
Chris (Wallingford, CT)
Do my Huskies have the best defense in the Big East this year?
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
Quite possibly, and that's another reason to believe that UConn can avoid a falloff. Nine starters are back, and the D-line could be flat-out nasty
Matt (NY, NY)
Hey BB, I am a huge Cuse fan, coming out of the spring what should i feel best about? what should i be worried most about?
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
Feel best about the fact that this team finally has some depth and has a lot of talent at O-line, defensive end and safety. Worry about the inexperience at linebacker, the lack of size at defensive tackle and whether the receivers can take a big step up.
Which Big East team has the best wide receivers corps, after seeing coleman this past weekend you got to give rutgers some consideration right? Sanu, Coleman, Harrison, Wright, Pratt, Wynn..if the offensive line can even perform mediocrely then I think that group to be a serious force
Brian Bennett (4:31 PM)
I'd put WVU and Rutger at the very top. Need to see Wright and Coleman do it on Saturdays in the fall, but both are very impressive and have worlds of potential.
What are your thoughts on the USF/ ND game? Do you feel the enviroment plus kelly will be too much for the Bulls or do you see a good defensive game. I don't see USF as a favorite heading into it, but that hasn't stopped the Bulls before.
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
USF has pulled off many big September wins, though they seemed to reverse the trend last year under Skip Holtz. If Floyd doesn't play, I think USF can make it a defensive game and have a shot at the upset.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
Hey BB. I know that the Derby has taken over everything in Derbyville the last month (or two), but I haven't heard anything out of UofL since the spring game. Any news that you've heard that maybe didn't get picked up in national circles?
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
It's been very quiet, which I'm sure Charlie Strong likes. I feel like I probably learned less about the Cardinals this spring than any Big East team, just because they had so many guys injured.
Jeff (Traverse City)
Brian, What does your gut tell you about where PITT will finish this year? Do you think something special is brewing in the Steel City?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
I see the Panthers as a contender but probably a mid-pack Big East team. Just a drastic change in styles and I think there will be a learning curve, not to mention a tough nonconference sked (ND, Utah and Iowa)
Is there any possible way a Big East team gets a bowl game with TCU this season?
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
There are no Mountain West/Big East tie-ins and there's virtually no way a BCS game pares up the winner of those two leagues. So unless there are a lot of open spots and the Big East has too many eligible teams or something, it seems highly unlikely
Bull Aficianado (Lakeland, FL)
You had mentioned that "one good thing" from Spring for USF was our running game. Do you think we will finally have a featured back (haven't had one since Andre Hall) or will it be running back by committee again?
Brian Bennett (4:39 PM)
It will probably be more by committee. I could see more two-back sets, plus using B.J. Daniels to run more to complement a more powerful rushing attack. I don't think Darrell Scott quite proved he was a home-run hitter this spring
Brian, love your work. Notre Dame is off to another great start in terms of recruiting. Call me crazy, but i think B. Kelly will have Notre Dame competing for National championships on a consistent basis very soon. The sleeping giant has awakened. You agree?
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
I think the Irish will be back to being a Top 15 team on a regular basis and competing for BCS appearances. Getting to the national championship level is much harder and requires luck, but if you keep putting yourself in that position, one year the breaks may fall your way. I'm a big believer in Kelly's program.
Chris (Wallingford, CT)
Of all the venues you've been to across the country, what are a few of your favorites? And what have been your favorite bowl games to cover?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
I'd say Georgia, Florida, LSU at night. Going to the Rose Bowl last year was amazing. Anywhere with a packed house full of fans is always fun.
Mel (Columbus, OH)
The other day you said West Virginia was ranked too high in Schlabach's spring top 25. I remember you had them barely in your top 25. My question is why are you holding them back due to losses on the defensive side, when you have teams like Bama, Auburn, TCU and Ohio State with similiar problems?
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
Because those teams have done it recently and have earned some cachet. West Virginia hasn't been a Top 15 team since the Fiesta Bowl season
I think this is the year we see Cincy back to where they were winning 10 games or more and a BE title i mean the schedule is pretty nice the only game that scares me is that one at Tennessee i think Cincy could that one cuz Tennessee is not as good as it once was
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
I admire your optimism as always, Miguel. I do think Cincy should bounce back and be in the mix for a bowl game, but I don't think that defense is good enough for the Bearcats to win 10 games.
Brian, might the new TV contracts sprouting up encourage ND to jump into the Big East and make even more money?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
Not one bit. Think NBC/Comcast might up its deal with ND now that it's missed out on every other league?
Do you think Syracuse has a shot at the Big East title in '11?
Brian Bennett (4:47 PM)
I don't think there's a team you can definitely rule out as a contender. Syracuse has a shot, though it's going to be interesting to see how the Orange fare as the hunted instead of the hunter this season.
Brian, who's the most hated team in College Football?
Brian Bennett (4:48 PM)
Judging by the e-mails I get, I'd say it's Notre Dame. Most loved and hated. They're the Yankees of college football.
Tom M (CT)
Who has the best special teams in the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:49 PM)
I'd say UConn. Teggart back, along with the punter and Nick Williams in the return game.
Conner (Louisville, Ky)
What do you think Louisville's ceiling is for wins this year? Also, do you think Will Stein holds out as QB all year, or do you think Bridgewater gets worked in for more and more reps as the season goes on, to prepare him for next year?
Brian Bennett (4:50 PM)
Probably around 8, maybe 9 with a bowl. I see a mentoring type situation with Stein starting and Bridgewater getting work, maybe not unlike LeFors/Brohm. Whether that changes during the season depends on how both perform.
Great Blog BB. If we do by chance go undefeated which is probably pretty slim. What chances do you think we have in actually making it into the big game with only one Top 10 win. I'll say around 40%.
Brian Bennett (4:52 PM)
So dependent on what happens elsewhere, and the SEC seems to have a virtual lock on one of those spots. Best case scenario: WVU beats LSU and LSU goes on to win the SEC. Then the argument becomes hard to refute
Out of all the players selected from the Big East, which one would you describe as "the steal of the draft" as a great player that went way later than they should have? How about the same question for the draft as a whole?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
I'd say probably Chris Neild in the seventh round. Also liked the late picks of Romeus (a beast if he's healthy) and Todman (way too good to be a sixth-rounder).
Do you think the situation at Ohio State will send more kids towards Cincinnati?
Brian Bennett (4:53 PM)
Maybe 1 or 2, but for the most part they swim in different waters. Ohio State is going to be Ohio State no matter who the coach is in 2012
ND is the Yankees of College Football, only the Yankees that don't win and constantly underachieve.
Brian Bennett (4:54 PM)
How nice is it being able to tell your girlfriend that you are going to work, then you sit down to watch football.
Brian Bennett (4:55 PM)
Living the dream, Philip, living the dream
Brian, with NDs strong (so far) recruiting within the Kelly program do you think they can hijack some other schools commits? and do you think some of their recruits are susceptible to that as well?
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
Commitments aren't worth the paper they're not printed on. Especially when ND is going down to places like Florida and getting kids, they're always at risk of losing them later on to an SEC school. Like Brian Kelly says, the Irish basically have to steal kids out of other school's backyards to survive.
Do you think UCF has lost any chance of a BE invite? I'm not a fan of them, but i think they are on the rise. People are ready to give them the death penalty even though nothing has been proven.
Brian Bennett (4:56 PM)
I've made it known that I think UCF is a great fit. The recent NCAA news is not working in their favor, however.
bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)
Big picture question. Do you think it is the Federal Government's business to investigate if the BCS is "fair"? I think its a private enterprise. Its about buisness not about fair. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (4:57 PM)
As much as I have a problem with the BCS, I don't think the government should be involved. I'd rather the government work on making gas cheaper.
Whats your opinion on Holgorson's haircut. Between his hair and Huggins warm up suits, will we have the most fasionable football/ basketball coaching duo in the country next year?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
As a guy saddled with a bad haircut most of my life, I'm certainly not one to criticize. I like both those guys, though. College sports needs more characters like them
Purple Pirate (Charlotte, NC)
Please look at us again! We have a big fan base attending games. Why don't you love us?
Brian Bennett (4:58 PM)
Because it's so hard to get to your campus.
Brian, what has been the response from Big East fans about Villanova joining the conference in fb? Are most for, against or is apathy the biggest response?
Brian Bennett (4:59 PM)
Most I've heard from didn't like the Villanova idea much to begin with and really don't like it now. Can't blame them. Hard to get excited about an FCS team with an 18,000 seat stadium in a pro town.
Kevin ((York, PA))
Are you as upset as I am that the draft is over and there's hardly any college football coverage on ESPN outside of these blogs?
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
I'm never upset when the draft is over; the coverage exhausts me. This is the quietest time of year for college football, but we'll keep finding things to talk about.
Brian Bennett (5:00 PM)
And with that, my time's up. Thanks for all the really good questions this week. See you next week.