Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at noon ET!
Brian Bennett (12:00 PM)
Hello and welcome to a special noontime Friday chat. Let's get this thing started
Hey brianWhat impact on USF recruiting do all these big name transfers have? Positive or negative?
Brian Bennett (12:02 PM)
As long as those guys work out, or at least don't cause trouble, I don't see how it can be a negative. The one thing USF wants to avoid is being known as simply a transfer school. But if former big-time recruits can succeed there, it should show high school prospects that the Bulls are a good program to play for.
I see that the Big Ten is debating on whether or not to pay players stipends. If this passes do you see the Big East doing the same, and will all of the schools be able to afford to do something like?
Brian Bennett (12:04 PM)
I have a hard time seeing how some schools, like Cincinnati, can afford what could amount to an extra $300,000 a year just for football and men's basketball players alone. A new and more lucrative TV contract could help some. But it's an issue for a league that will never have as much money as a place like the Big Ten.
Axl (5 o'clock somewhere)
I see great things happening for the Louisville Cards. I believe this team will have a better than expected year in 2011 and be contenders for the BEAST champ in 2012. With Strong and the new recruits he has coming in do you think, as I do, that ( I know its early) but can the Cards compete for a National Champ in 3-4 years?
Brian Bennett (12:06 PM)
I hesitate to say any Big East team can compete for a national championship, just because it seems hard to break the SEC grip on one of those BCS title game spots. But I do think Louisville is going to be very good in a couple of years and will definitely challenge for at least a BCS bowl bid. Could be a fascinating Big East race between the Cards, West Virginia and TCU if all continue on the upward path
David (Washington, DC)
Your Big East expansion poll created quite a stir. Personally as a WVU fan, I would like to see East Carolina as the next member. Do you know if the ADs and Presidents are looking towards a full membership or football only membership in terms of either getting to 18 teams for basketball or sticking with 17?
Brian Bennett (12:07 PM)
Well, the reason Villanova was attractive was because that wouldn't necessitate an 18th member. Selling the basketball-only schools on another full member will be difficult, but selling a prospective expansion candidate on a football-only membership is equally difficult. That's why this process has been long and bumpy so far.
Who is more likely to be a coach next year, Bill Stewart or Rich Rod?
Brian Bennett (12:09 PM)
I wouldn't be surprised to see Stew take a year off or slide into an ambassador type role to see how it fits, at least until his son finishes high school. I am almost certain RichRod will be on a sideline somewhere next season. Clemson, perhaps?
Phillip (A stadium near you)
Brian,should we expect a strong running game from UCONN this year and what do you think the Huskies non conference record will be this up coming season?
Brian Bennett (12:11 PM)
I'm not sure the Huskies have a Jordan Todman or a Donald Brown in the backfield, but I expect their offensive line will be good enough to keep the ground game strong. I just wonder about the passing game. As for the noncon record, that's a really easy schedule. If they're not at least 4-1, they've got problems.
Would expansion and a championship game really help any new BE TV deal that much? Or would it all be a wash with having to spit new revenues more ways?
Brian Bennett (12:12 PM)
Championship game ... blah. No reason for one of those. Expansion, though, will help the TV contract for one simple reason: more games to sell. It's about inventory and markets.
Ryan (Vienna, WV)
If WVU hasn't hire Dana Holgorsen, is WVU still the favorite in 2011?
Brian Bennett (12:14 PM)
The Mountaineers sure wouldn't be getting this type of buzz without him. It's possible WVU would still be the favorite, since Jeff Mullen was almost certainly going to be replaced as OC. But the league would look even more wide open without Holgorsen
Corey B (Pittsburgh, PA)
BB, Some Pitt fans are getting a little concerned with Todd Graham's slow approach to 2012 recruiting class with a wopping 0 commits so far. Should we be concerned?
Brian Bennett (12:16 PM)
I linked to a story about that in today's lunchtime links. Graham says he is not worried and that he likes to take time in evaluating prospects. Look, if we're sitting here next February and the class doesn't have much, then I'll be concerned. I do not worry about recruiting in May. Commitments don't mean much these days anyway
Jordan (Lakeland, Fl)
Hey Brian, I am really looking forward to a trip to South Bend in the fall. If the Bulls do manage to win, do you think the bigger story will be what is right with USF or what is wrong with Notre Dame?
Brian Bennett (12:17 PM)
Oh, I think we know the answer to this one. USF would get a little buzz from the game, but the national media would spend more time ripping the Irish. P.S. Enjoy the trip. Great place to watch a game.
Me and my freind had an argument I say in 2 Cuse will be contending for BE title and he says Pitt will be better than Cuse then I said Cuse will be better than Pitt this year any chance on me winning that argument.
Brian Bennett (12:19 PM)
The Pittsburgh-Syracuse arguments are tearing this country apart, aren't they? In two years, West Virginia, Louisville, TCU and USF should all be really good. I like where Syracuse is going under Doug Marrone. Pitt is kind of a mystery team right now.
Ryan (Zanesville, OH)
What is the worst expansion/realignment/split proposal someone has ever sent to you?
Brian Bennett (12:21 PM)
I'm pretty sure I've heard every team west of the Rockies be proposed. The worst are all the FCS teams -- someone once suggested, in apparent seriousness, Austin Peay -- and that's only slightly worse than those deluded souls who think the Big East can wrangle Notre Dame or ACC/Big 12 teams away
What your thoughts on Oliver Luck's decision to sell beer at Milan Puskar Stadium (WVU) and not allow fans to leave and come back at halftime?......I think it is genius---rowdier crowd staying the entire game!
Brian Bennett (12:22 PM)
There are other schools in the conference who sell beer, and they don't have huge problems with it. I don't think fans should be allowed to leave at halftime and come back in. That's just asking for trouble, in my opinion.
Brian, Any chance that wvu and Stanford would play for the N C ? What a game with Luck the player and Luck the A D father and son against each other. good luck, luck.
Brian Bennett (12:23 PM)
That would be fun, but I don't see either team making the BCS title game.
Greg (Morgantown, WV)
Brian,Love the blog. Great work. Question: How would you rank the top 3 Big East programs that if they left the Big East would cause the most "damage". I contend that WVU would be #1. IMO, we carry the weight in a lot of areas. Big BCS wins, biggest traveling fan base, biggest home attendance every year, TV ratings, national credibility. Your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (12:25 PM)
Interesting. Yes, West Virginia would be No. 1 on that list. I'd probably rank Pitt and Syracuse as the next two. Simply because they have the most tradition and are so associated with the Big East.
What's your take on the support that people have shown for adding ECU to the Big East? As folks have said, getting to Greenville is not that hard, and is no more challenging than getting to Morgantown. Why is the Big East (and the media) so against adding a program that would add a fan base on par with WV (and that travels well) and that adds a whole other state/market to the conference? And for people that complain about ECU's market, neither WV or many teams in the SEC come from "big" markets, and it certainly hasn't hurt them.
Brian Bennett (12:26 PM)
I wasn't too surprised, simply because I know ECU fans are passionate. I've heard from a lot of them in the last couple of years. It's not up to me, and I can only tell you what I'm hearing the Big East is thinking. And that is, they want to emphasize their big markets and cities. ECU just doesn't fit that profile, although I do think the Pirates would be competitive in football.
Ronnie (Largo, Fl.)
I know they are freshmen but do you think that Buie and Garrison could make an impact in the running game for wvu or with Buie's speed and his ability to make defenders miss in the open field will he become another receiver. speed kills.
Brian Bennett (12:28 PM)
Let's let them get on campus and actually start practicing before we start switching their positions. I do think one or both can have an impact. Running back is one position where freshmen can come in right away. However, both will be behind another true frosh in Vernard Roberts, who went through the spring. Think Ray Graham/Dion Lewis there
Which makes the biggest improvement, USF's passing game or RU's running game?
Brian Bennett (12:30 PM)
Neither can get worse, right? For comparison's sake, Rutgers was eighth in the Big East at 100 rushing yards per game, while USF was seventh in passing at 164 yards per game. I'll pick Rutgers. Why? Some of the Knights' numbers includes all the sacks, which have to go down this year. And with Deering, Huggins and others, the running game should be much better.
Ryan, C (Kuwait)
Saw your article on Tyler Gabbert visited Louisville......any chance he may look at UConn as well?
Brian Bennett (12:32 PM)
Gabbert has a connection with the Louisville staff in Shawn Watson. UConn doesn't have an in or any real QB tradition, so I'd call it a long shot at best.
Brian, If any coach in the Big East had lied twice to his bosses (AD & Univ. Pres.), would they still have their job like Tressel?
Brian Bennett (12:33 PM)
I believe Tressel is only still employed because of all the success he's had on the field. No current Big East coach has come close to what he's accomplished. So no.
Go Bearcats Go! (Wyoming, OH)
You have been hinging out with the Big 12 er.... 11.... er 10 all week. Any indication they are planning to poach any Big East teams at this point? Or do they seem satisfied for at least the short term?
Brian Bennett (12:34 PM)
The Big 10 is not interested in further expansion at this time. The league is still trying to wrap its had around the new 12-game, division format, so it's not looking to get even bigger right now. Although that could change in the future, since Jim Delany is a forward thinker. Very impressed with his leadership.
Jeff (Charleston, WV)
You heard it here first. Tavon Austin and Geno Smith will both be invited to NY for the Heisman Award show. But neither will win it. What are your thoughts. Remeber, there are not that many stars returning this year. And Luck will have a different coach this year, I say he does not produce the types of numbers this year.
Brian Bennett (12:36 PM)
Uh, no. First of all, it's nearly impossible for two teammates to finish in the Top 5 and not split the vote. They surely won't do it at WVU, and receivers rarely make the final cut. I do think Smith has a chance to get there.
Who has the toughest OOC schedule this year in the BE?
Brian Bennett (12:38 PM)
Pittsburgh: at Iowa, vs. Utah and ND. Toughest single game: WVU vs. LSU. Easiest sked: UConn.
what do you expect from the Big East meetings next week?
Brian Bennett (12:39 PM)
Planning a post about that this afternoon. Meetings start Monday. In short, I don't expect a lot of news. These meetings rarely generate much substance. But expansion will certainly be talked about.
Jim (Highland Park, NJ)
Brian,What should Rutgers fans expect with Cignetti at Offensive Coordinator? So far, I like what I see. 5 step drops at QB, get the ball in the hands of the play-makers and no more wildcat. Rutgers is going to need to play quick with an unproven line.
Brian Bennett (12:41 PM)
It's a true pro-style attack. He used the tight ends a lot at Pitt, along with power running schemes. I would look for the Knights to move the pocket with Dodd and go downfield to those big receiving targets. Bye, bye Wildcat. You will not be missed.
Sabrina (New York)
Do you think Edsall leaving UConn negatively impacted Toddman's draft? If he had stayed, would he haved advised Toddman to come back or provide more support pre-draft?
Brian Bennett (12:42 PM)
No, I don't think that had any effect. Todman announced he was leaving after the Fiesta Bowl after getting the full support of Edsall. The only thing that hurt him was his size and the presence of some bigger backs in this year's draft.
What are you doing this weekend?
Brian Bennett (12:43 PM)
I am playing in kickball tournaments most of the weekend. Sadly, I am not making that up
This is more of a comment - USF's advantage of recruiting in its own back yard is well documented, but I've always felt that they are a disadvantage when a prospect truly wants to venture away from home to play football. I've noticed from the multiple recruiting services I subscribe to that USF's recruiting budget and footprint is beginning to increase/expand into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Ohio, etc. If they can't convince a Florida player to stay home then why not venture further north to try to convince an out-of-towner to come down to Florida? I believe this recruiting paradigm shift will only help USF continue its unprecedented ascension up the ranks of legimitate college football programs. Thoughts?!
Brian Bennett (12:45 PM)
I agree to a point. If there's a big-time prospect in the Tampa area, USF has to fight Florida, FSU, Miami and every other program that recruits Florida for him. Yet there is just so much talent in Florida that I think the Bulls can still succeed largely on home-grown talent. Skip Holtz's connections from ECU have helped expand that base a little bit, and that's great. But USF still lives and breathes off Florida kids.
Bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)
Do you know if you are going to the Big East Spring meetings? Unsually they aren't all that new worthy... but this year it appears to be.
Brian Bennett (12:45 PM)
ESPN.com will have the meetings covered well. Make sure to check the blog next week for updates.
Do you see a scenario where the Cuse beats USC on the road? As a payback for recommending Greg Robinson.
Brian Bennett (12:47 PM)
Hey, I like that. (Dr. Gross does not). The fact that it's early in the season helps, but it's going to be awful tough going across the country and winning there. I think Syracuse keeps it a little closer than last year's Washington game, but they may not have the offensive firepower to pull it off
Steve (Ridgefield, CT)
Brian I am also mourning the death of Li'l Sebastian. Do you think the recent hype that WVU is getting is well deserved or do you think that the experts should wait to see what happens on the field come fall? Either way I'm excited about the team myself.
Brian Bennett (12:49 PM)
It's a sad, sad day in Pawnee and across the world. I think West Virginia should be a Top 25 team. The Top 15 projections seem a bit high to me. I still have questions about the defense, the kicking game, the running game and the O-line. I'm a little more cautious than those who simply think Dana Holgorsen = a return to elite status
Todd L (Philly,)
What's the worst game you've ever had the displeasure of seeing in person?
Brian Bennett (12:50 PM)
If we're talking all time, it would have to be the Kentucky-Vanderbilt games I watched in college. In terms of this blog life, the Syracuse-Louisville game in 2009 was so bad it was comical.
Marc (Woodbridge, VA)
There is nothing wrong with playing kickball. I have been playing in Washington, DC since 2002.
Brian Bennett (12:51 PM)
I've been in a league for the last few years and it's great. But I may play as many as nine kickball games this weekend. That's a little out of control
Brian, could you ask Marinatto about where the Big East stands on a cfb playoff? It looks like DOJ might motivate some action with the NCAA and the BCS for cfb fans.
Brian Bennett (12:51 PM)
I and others have done so. Marinatto has come out as a firm supporter of the BCS system
Does the addition of TCU really impact the Big East's recruiting footprint? Would a possible 2-3 visits to Texas a year really way in on a players decision to play in Connecticuit or Ohio?
Jared (Sacramento, CA)
Do you believe there will be an expansion invitation before the summer ends?
Brian Bennett (12:54 PM)
Sorry, computer acting up a bit there. Ghostdad, I think the addition of TCU could help the Big East presence. It's probably not a viable place for schools like UConn and Cincinnati to recruit full time, but they may be able to find a prospect or two who's interested. Pitt and WVU have already stepped up Texas recruiting efforts, but that's mostly because their new coaches have ties thre.
Brian Bennett (12:55 PM)
Jared, I think the Big East will have at least finally decided on a course of action by the end of the summer. I'm thinking by the time the presidents meet.
You've talked about UConn's defense this year being strong. How will they handle the pressure of being on the field so much if the offense can't get things going? Do you see them wilting as the year goes on?
Brian Bennett (12:56 PM)
I can't imagine UConn's offense is going to be much worse than it was last year. The running game and special teams should help the Huskies' D
Bearcatvol (Dalton, GA)
Following up on Ghost's question... would adding Houston to the list help make Texas a better place for Big East teams to hunt talent?
Brian Bennett (12:58 PM)
It would increase the talent. But much like the USF question ... if you're a big-time Texas player, where are you more likely to go: Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, TCU or ... Syracuse?
Bob (Bluefield, WV)
IF WVU ever left the Big East (I understand its extremely hypothetical) where would be the best fit?
Brian Bennett (12:59 PM)
The ACC. Playing Virginia, Virginia Tech and Maryland every year makes the most sense.
James (Hartford CT)
Brian - what do you think of UConn's QB group? And do you think NC State QB transfer Russell Wilson will land at either UConn or Louisville?
Brian Bennett (1:00 PM)
I think they need a lot of work. Not overly impressed with any of them. Was hearing Wilson is seriously considering Wisconsin earlier this week.
Brian Bennett (1:00 PM)
OK, folks. That's all my time for this week's chat. Thanks for all the questions and have a great week