Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Big Ten 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 Monday at 3 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (3:00 PM)
Hello and welcome to another Big Ten Monday chat. I'd like to remind you that this will be our only chat this week, so if you have pressing questions, this is your chance to get them in.
Brian Bennett (3:01 PM)
cutter (Silver Spring, MD)
Is the Big Ten's desire to see a Plus One over a Four Team Playoff an attempt to protect the Rose Bowl by making it a de facto semi-final playoff game along with the Big 12/SEC Champions Bowl? If yes, then is this a move by B10 Commissioner Jim Delany to have the SEC champion and the Big 12 champion essentially knock one or the other out of the national championship game? Also, does this solidify the "Big Four" status of the Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC while pushing the ACC just a little bit more out of the door? If the answer to that is yes, what does that mean for future conference realignment and the futures of BYU and ND as major independents?
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
Cutter, I see where you're coming from, but I don't think that's the case. This is more a factor of the Big Ten presidents being very conservative and traditionalist and wanting to keep the bowl system intact as much as possible (wrongly, in my view). Delany flatly stated that he doesn't like the 16-team superconference idea. And the Big Ten is making so much money that it needn't really worry what others are doing.
Darin (Lyme NH)
BB:Is an 8-team playoff still on the table, or has this been ruled out for the current round of changes. It seems like it would be a lot easier to pick the teams farily with an 8-team playoff, and it also seems inevitable that we will end up there down the road. Wish we could just take care of it now.
Brian Bennett (3:04 PM)
There is zero support for an eight-team model. There would still be controversy over teams No. 7-thru-10. The presidents have no appetite for adding another game to the calendar.
I think most people will agree that the BCS rankings are pretty darn good, and pretty darn close, but they aren't perfect. I think a 3-1/6 model accounts for this in the best way possible, and I'm not sure where the backlash is coming from? Do people really feel so strongly that Oregon shouldn't have gotten the nod over Stanford last year due to their head-to-head win?
Brian Bennett (3:06 PM)
I disagree with you slightly about the BCS, simply because it's such a flawed system using human polls and computer rankings that don't use margin of victory and which nobody knows the formula. But I think people are taking the top 6 proposal as leaving out Alabama, when in fact it would have rightly included Oregon instead of Stanford and let 'Bama in. Lot of misunderstanding there. But I still think a selection committee is far more preferable in every way.
Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)
Please can we resume position rankings, or individual player rankings, or anything concerning the current teams and rosters? I don't know how much more of this playoff talk I can endure.
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
Ha. Don't worry, Mochilla. There will be plenty of that to come. This is a huge topic right now in an otherwise slow period, though. And it sure beats the scandal talk we had last summer, no?
Mr. Delany (Chicago)
Nick Saban said it would unfair to make a southern kid who hadn't seen snow play a football game up north in the cold. Is the SEC afraid to to play in B10 country during the cold, or are they simply trying to keep an unfair advantage?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
Of course the SEC doesn't want to come up north. But since the Big Ten inexplicably doesn't want to exploit that possible huge advantage, it makes no difference.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How badly are things unraveling in Columbus? The constant negative news surrounding the program has to be a concern to say the least.
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
Unraveling? Because a couple of college kids decided to urinate in public and then ran away when they saw a spotlight? I think you're exaggerating quite a bit. This isn't much of an issue and there's no evidence that there's any kind of widespread problem. If anything, it's encouraging to see Urban Meyer take swift disciplinary action over such a minor incident.
What do you make of Delany saying it should be the 4 best teams in the playoff, but admitting there's really no foolproof way to select those 4 teams? Sounds like he's trying to build up just enough doubt in the system to force everyone to sign off on the status quo for just a bit longer
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
My take is that he's pushing for a selection committee that will heavily weight conference championships. Which seems like the smartest way to do things.
Colin (Sterling Heights)
Hey Brian, thanks for doing the chat again. My question is in regards to Michigan's supposedly "stellar" recruiting classes. If the recruiting classes for UM were really that great, then why do there seem to be so many questions surrounding the Wolverine's O-lines and D-lines this upcoming season? I've read multiple articles claiming Michigan might start walk-ons in both areas. What gives?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
Well, remember that O-linemen and D-linemen typically take the longest to develop. So most guys at that position who just stepped on campus last year or this summer aren't going to make a huge impact in 2012. Those areas were thin in numbers when Hoke arrived, and he's been busy filling them up for the future, but he always knew there was going to be a depth problem right about now.
Delany also said today he wants the new system to be aware of teams who won a conference championship game compared to teams that didn't have one (read: Big 12 teams). Should we take it at face value, or is there some ulterior motive to force the Big 12 to expand, for whatever reason?
Brian Bennett (3:15 PM)
I don't think there's an ulterior motive, and I doubt Delany much cares what the Big 12 does. But he's right that teams that have to play a championship game have an extra hurdle to clear. That shouldn't be the overriding factor in selection, but it should be considered. A human committee can take that under consideration, while it might not weight as heavily in some sort of computer system.
Brian (Portland, OR)
Brian (great name BTW) - whose offense will score more points this fall: 1) Ohio State, 2) Penn State, 3) Wisconsin?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
Excellent name. I'd go Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State in that order. But my bold prediction has been that Nebraska will lead the league in scoring, for what that's worth.
Mike (Davenport, Iowa)
I couldn't help but notice in Adam's story on about assistant coaches salaries that when you add the head coaches salary, Iowa jumps from number 5 to number 2. Now I believe Kirk Ferentz is a great coach but do you think he should be performing better than 7-5 seasons while getting paid nearly $4 million a year (among the top 5 paid coaches in the nation). especially with routine losses to Minnesota, ISU, and Northwestern. We've had four ten win seasons but I feel the 6-6, 7-5 seasons that we have had outside of them are a bit disappointing for $3 mil. a year.
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
I understand where you're coming from. Iowa isn't getting the bang for its buck that, say, Alabama is getting with Saban. Then again, though, that salary has helped keep Ferentz in Iowa City for a long time, and he's a top-flight coach who's in demand. And at the end of the day, it's not really your money, so who cares what he's making?
Jim (Scranton, PA)
With all the question marks at PSU, OSU and Wisc, how do you think Purdue could fair this year? Michigan-Purdue Championship game?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
Wouldn't that be interesting? I think Purdue has a chance to make a move this year. There's a ton of starters back, and this is no doubt Danny Hope's deepest and best team. Plus, Wisconsin and Penn State have to come to West Lafayette. The Boilers will have to play a lot cleaner than they have the past couple of years, but this is as good a shot as they've had to make some noise.
With Silas Redd looking to get a TON of carries this year and with all the experience now gone from the PSU backfield... who will be the guy to spell Silas or take over for him in case of injury?
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
Bill Belton showed some things this spring, though I don't know if he's an every-down back. Incoming freshman Akeel Lynch could be in line for a lot of carries if something were to happen to Redd. But there's little question the Lions are counting on him to be their workhorse.
Did Will Muschamp really suggest the SEC may have the four best teams in the country some years? I get the argument for two, but that quote could make him the posterchild for SEC arrogance.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
SEC? Arrogant? Why, I never ...
cutter (Silver Spring, MD)
I agree with your outlook on the bowl system and appreciate the fact that the Big Ten has been fairly conservative in its outlook regarding the post-season and on expansion. But wouldn't you agree that the Big Ten leadership would have little hesitation expanding the conference to 14 if it included Notre Dame plus an AAU program from the northeast or mid-Atlantic regions? I thought it was telling to read that much of the Big Ten Network's revenue comes from outside the conference region as it shows the potential for growth--especially if the BTN could be put onto the basic cable packages in the major metropolitan areas located there.
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
If the Big Ten could land Notre Dame, it would do so. But that train has probably left the station for good. And without the Irish, there are really no other attractive candidates. So the Big Ten has no impetus to add teams at this time.
Ideally, who would be on the playoff team selection committee?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
Good question. You'd have to make sure it was a strong mix of people with different geographic and conference backgrounds. Ideally, I think it would be some ADs and some retired coaches who could watch all the games, not unlike the Harris Poll. And then give them a criteria going into the selection. The NCAA basketball committee is rarely accused of regional bias, so follow that model. But it would be an unpopular job, most likely.
Favorite Lane moment? Has to be when he punched Pete in the face right?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
No, I'd go with his night on the town with Don, as the two ordered steaks, got sloshed and watched a monster movie.
Homer (Springfield) [via mobile]
Hey Brian, Now that Iowa and Michigan State are off the schedule, the Badgers are really hurting for a rival. The Gophers haven't been competitive for years and its knocked the shine off of the rivalry for the moment. How long before Kill gets the Gophers competitive? Are there any landmarks we should look for to know that they're turning the corner?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
You're right, Homer (woo-hoo), though I think Ohio State will grow as a rival the next couple of years for the Badgers, especially in the Leaders race. As for Minnesota, I would look for a couple of signs: a consistent ability to run the ball and stop the run will be huge. And a big win over an upper echelon Big Ten team on the road would be a major symbol that Kill's getting things revved up.
Ken (Ann Arbor)
Hi Brian, would you please define how you use the term "elite" to describe a school? Last week you stated that Michigan was being close to getting back to their "elite" status in the next couple of seasons? I believe "elite" would be multiple back to back seasons of two losses or less. Michigan hasn't done that once in the past 20 seasons (they have had 7 seasons with 4+ losses). And if you are basing your opinion on recruiting, let me remind you that Michigan has had a Top 15 recruiting class each year. If anything, Michigan is getting back to being "above average".
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
I would say winning 10+ games and conference titles, getting to BCS level games and winning them and getting into the NCG conversation consistently would be the hallmarks of an elite program. Michigan may have had high recruiting rankings, but it has the No. 1 class in the nation right now. That plus an excellent coaching staff for a program coming off an 11-win, Sugar Bowl title sure seems to signal that elite status is not far off, though nothing is ever guaranteed in this game.
MSU has a tough home slate of games this year (Boise, ND, OSU, Iowa, Neb). What do you think the odds are that they continue their undefeated streak at home? I tend to think their loss or losses will come either at Mich, at Wisc, or both.
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
If the Spartans lose at home, I think it will be to either Ohio State or Nebraska. But I'd favor them in all those games at Spartan Stadium and give them a 75 percent chance of winning them all. Games at Michigan and Wisconsin look very tough and there will be at least one loss there.
Why cant you answer my question?
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
Because you're asking about Virginia and Virginia Tech in a Big Ten chat. Nobody cares here. Go ask Heather Dinich.
Nick (Ann Arbor)
Are your recent jabs at the SEC bloggers and talking heads genuine or is it a clever ploy to keep the B1G fans from negatively commenting on the quality of reporting coming out of ESPN by making us feel like you are "one of us"?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
We like to have some fun and good-naturedly rib our friends at the SEC blog, who do great work over there. But as much as I respect those guys, I just don't think Chris Low or other SEC writers took the time to seriously understand what the Big Ten was saying. It's easy to say, "You're scared," and ridicule the league's postseason performance of late, but it added very little to any legitimate discussion and weakened the debate, in my opinion. Maybe they're blinded by all those title rings.
Brian, does it bother you that these chats/most articles right now are less about football and more about off the field stuff?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
Not really. It's June. Not much on-the-field stuff to talk about, and I find the playoff debate fascinating and historic. It sure beats writing about the Sandusky scandal or tattoos.
An ACC football question? Do they play football in that conference?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
Is it just me or is Delany's (continually) updated position on the post-season a little incoherent? In a perfect world they would keep the BCS system exactly as is, but if they have to have a playoff the most important thing is to get rid of the polls and computers to rank teams, which is pretty much the whole raison d'etre of the BCS in the first place.
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
You make a good point. The Big Ten has not been really clear on its position, and even today started off talking about the status quo and a plus-one, neither of which, I believe, are realistic options. The league says it has merely been talking aloud about ideas, but it has to know that every time Delany speaks, people interpret that as being the Big Ten's position. The conference would benefit by being clearer and more forceful on what it wants. It accomplished a little of that today but still not enough, in my opinion.
Ned (Washington, D.C.)
Hi Brian. Please fill in the blank: Penn State replaces Matt McGloin as starting QB with Paul Jones in the __ game of the season.
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
I understand the fascination with Jones because fans always like the guy they haven't really seen better than the known quantity, especially when that known quantity is a guy like McGloin who has been mediocre at best. I still think McGloin can win in this league, but would not be surprised at all to see Jones get a look. My guess? Nov. 3 at Purdue after McGloin struggles against Iowa and Ohio State.
Fill in this blank: MSU defense will be the __ best defense in the country?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
5th. Finished sixth last year, so I'm bumping up a bit. Remember the schedule is tough, so that could affect some stats as well.
I'm worried about Hoke's recruiting...UM doesn't have a 2014 commit yet.
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
Yes, very worrisome indeed. It might be until next March until he has 20 pledges for '14
GBK (Lincoln Park)
The criteria for the selection committee should simply be: MUST WATCH COLLEGE FOOTBALL, from all regions. That's why the Coach's/Harris polls are ridiculous. Those people don't watch college football.
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
Agree, though I think the Harris voters do watch a lot more football, on average, than coaches. The problem with polls is that each individual fills his out, and most are scared to deviate much to the norm. Get an informed group in a room to debate not the Top 25 but the merits of the top four teams in the country, and I think the results would be pretty good most years.
Why is Meyer having trouble getting commitments from more kids. He is a rock star and OSU is a good program. They have solid recruits now, but it seems like their overall numbers should be higher at this point. Is Meyer working with the same effort as before his unseasonable retirement at UF?
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
I am simply not going to worry about Ohio State recruiting, especially in early June. When it's all said and done, the Buckeyes will get more than their fair share of top prospects and will have one of the best classes in the country.
Ken (Elkhorn, NE)
Hey Brian, are there any new NCAA rules being implemented/abolished this upcoming season? i.e. kickoff rules, penalties, etc.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
The big change is on kickoffs. They move from the 30 to the 35 yard-line in, and touchbacks will result in the ball being placed on the 25 yard line instead of the 20. The goal is to limit injuries and concussions. Will be really interesting to see how this affects the game and whether return threats like Purdue's Raheem Mostert and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah will be neutralized.
Fujii (Ann Arbor)
Hi. Whats up. I'm getting worried that U of M is filling up on the recruits a little too fast. If a really good recruit comes along who is interested in Michigan, and we're out of scholarships what happens? Please Answer
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
You know what else I'm worried about? I can't fit all these 100-dollar bills in my wallet, and my solid gold hat makes my neck sore.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the Best Big-10 Quarterback for 2012?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
I'm guessing Denard Robinson has a better year passing the ball and will be at least in the Heisman discussion.
I think you were spot on with giving Montee Ball his due for one of the absolute all time greatest seasons in the history of college football. What are the main reason that most of the country didn't wake up to this last year? Geographic bias? Russell Wilson? Wisconsinism?
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
All of that played a role. There's the belief that any Wisconsin back can put up numbers behind that line. Wilson was having a big year and was getting early Heisman promotion instead of Ball. And Wisconsin lost a couple of games to drop out of the national title race. People started to notice his numbers at the end of the year, but by then it was a little too late to generate enough hype. I firmly believe Ball's 2012 campaign will look way better to historians
Bren (Berkeley, Ca)
Any chance Delany dusts off the home site host proposal again; if for no other purpose than to be negotiated away?
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
Nope. He and his presidents ADs have already said publicly they don't want it, so they have no leverage there. Why they let it go so quickly will forever baffle me.
Bill (Plowville, PA)
PSU has had a lot of consistency at defense for a very long time. How much is the defense going to change under the new leadership do you think?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
I do think you'll see a different style under Ted Roof than we did under Tom Bradley. Possibly more blitzing. But PSU has the players and the talent to field an outstanding defense every year, and that shouldn't change too much
That's big talk, Brian. You think history will view Ball's 2012 campaign as even better than 2011? Willing to wager?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
Meant to say 2011. My bad. Typing a lot of words fast today
Hey Brian: Which defensive trio, with one guy from each level of the defense, were/are you more impressed with heading into the season (or which looks scarier to opposing teams)? Jared Crick, Lavonte David, and Alfonzo Dennard for Nebraska prior to the 2011 season, or William Gholston, Denicos Allen, and Johnny Adams for Michigan State heading into the 2012 season?
Brian Bennett (3:56 PM)
Going into the season, I was more impressed with Nebraska, but other than David and a handful of games from Dennard, that never really materialized. The three you mentioned from MSU are really good and all could be great. But what really stands out to me about the Spartans isn't individual play but the overall depth and talent on defense. Which is why Michigan State could withstand an injury or down year or two, while Nebraska had trouble last year
Who has more yards running the ball this year for OSU; Braxton Miller or any other OSU Back?
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
I'm going to say Miller. Think Hall, Hyde and Boren will split carries, and the QB ends up with around 800-900 yards.
Kris Park Hills,MO [via mobile]
Who is the best pro-prospect in the Big 10 this year(including underclassmen)?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
My first-rounders, including juniors, would include: Ricky Wagner, Taylor Lewan, Kawann Short, Will Gholston, Johnny Adams and Johnathan Hankins. I'm sure I'm forgetting somebody
Bret (Madison) [via mobile]
I'm now officially down to three quarterbacks for the season. Do I revisit my quarterback recruiting policies?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
I don't think so. Freak injuries to Budmayr and Houston. You can't predict that kind of stuff.
With Temple getting better each year and now being a member of an AQ conference, how do you think this affects the PSU SOS?
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
There really won't be an AQ for much longer, and even if there was I'm not sure the Big East would qualify. I still have my doubts about Temple being a high-quality program long term, so I don't think it affects much
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
That's all my time for today, folks. Thanks for the great questions, and enjoy your week. Watch out for white walkers, too.