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 (3:01 PM)
Hello, everybody, and welcome to another Big Ten Monday chat. This will be our only chat of the week, so fire away with your best football (and maybe Mad Men finale) questions and comments here.
Montel Marion, 2x NCAA runner up for Iowa wrestling, and former Iowa running back Adam Robinson both were charged with posession of marijuana. Both were given immediate eligibility to transfer. Both had a chance to return to the team, but had to prove themselves. Although Robinson decided to transfer out - Marion decided to stay. He was able to return to qualify for his 2nd NCAA Finals appearance. Do you think U of I will do something similar to Garmon, or is the fact that he is just a recruit make it different?
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
It's hard to predict what Kirk Ferentz will do with this disciplinary decision, especially since we don't know all the facts of the case. I don't think it's a serious enough offense to warrant Iowa pulling Garmon's scholarship offer, but I could see a situation where he'd have to meet some internal disciplinary measures and possibly be suspended a game or two.
fishiganstate (white lake, Michigan)
Brian- With regards to recruiting rankings vs on the field performance it seems to me that MSU and Wisconsin are the best in the Big Ten. Do you think it's their ability to find diamonds in the rough or the coaching ability to develop players. At MSU I read about Coach Mannie and his strength conditioning and wonder if this type of coaching contribution is a key to "coaching up the players". I would probably throw Iowa in this group as well.
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
All three programs you mentioned do a terrific job of developing players, as good as any programs in the country if you ask me. They also don't get the benefit of the doubt in recruiting rankings the way some programs do. But their success in producing draft picks and winning games is the ultimate measuring stick.
everyone keeps saying that michigan state is our biggest game of the year. I'd have to disagree it might be the most important b1g game of the year but i feel the bama game is bigger. playing the defending champion tide on prime tv in dallas both teams will receive a lot of coverage before the game. And if we as in UofM can beat bama that will show recruits for years to come that we can beat the best the sec has to offer. I think for Michigan, for our recruiting, for the conference itself to show it can beat the sec that the bama game is the most important game being played by a school in the big ten. thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
I agree that beating Alabama would provide a huge boost to Michigan's image and open a lot of eyes. So in that way I see your point. Ultimately, though, Michigan's goal is to win the Big Ten, and without beating Michigan State, that's going to be awfully tough. A win over 'Bama without a conference title would be a little disappointing, whereas a loss to the Tide but a Rose Bowl berth would be cause for celebration.
When are you so called journalist going to call out Jim Delany. Who exactly made him the grand poobah of college football. This guy is the most unfair commissioner in sports. His only objective is to protect a conference that has won 1.5 titles in 40 years and its traditions dated back in 1900's. Under his watch season tickets have quadrupled, teams like Michigan and Ohio State play 8 home games against powerhouses Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Youngstown State and Ohio. How do fans of those teams watch those crapfest games and pay those prices. Delany only wants to protect the powerful while his teams lose to TCU, Toledo, App State.
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
A commissioner's job is to serve his conference, and Delany has definitely done that. Just last week, we wrote that the Big Ten is the richest conference in America, and Delany's Big Ten Network idea is the driving force behind that. Expansions was done perfectly as well. You can disagree with some of Delany's moves, but few in the league would complain about his overall stewardship.
David (Cincinnati, OH)
Over/under 10 wins for the Buckeyes this year?
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
I say under. I see the Bucks losing at Nebraska, at Wisconsin and one other spot (MSU? PSU?) for a 9-3 record.
Colin (Sterling Heights)
I imagine the NCAA is letting the legal system play itself out before making any moves of their own, so my question is this; If Jerry Sandusky is found "guilty" of his accused crimes, then what are the chances of Penn State's football team facing major NCAA sanctions for "Failure to Monitor" and/or "Lack of Institutional Control"?
Brian Bennett (3:10 PM)
I think it will depend on what is revealed about how university administrators dealt with the problem. A report today that there could be charges against Spanier and that he and others allegedly agreed to cover up the Sandusky accusations could be very damaging if found true. But we've got a ways to go yet as the legal process runs its course.
Do you play the NCAA Football video game? What team do you like to play as?
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
Used to play it all the time, but I gave up video games a few years ago. Just didn't have the time. But when I played, I loved having teams with mobile quarterbacks, like Oregon or West Virginia. (This was pre-Denard)
Alex (Kansas City, MO)
Why is Nebraska getting credit for Big Ten performances before this past season? The Big Ten Network has players in their top 10 lists when they competed in the Big 12. You had Rozier when he competed in the Big 8. Shouldn't they be credited in the Big 12 blog for their performances since they were part of that conference?
Brian Bennett (3:12 PM)
It's a hard thing to figure out. Nebraska fans no longer really read the Big 12 blog, so why put Huskers stuff there? Like it or not, they are a Big Ten member now, and we try to be inclusive. Blame realignment for mucking this up
Nebraska actually plays @ OSU this year - does that change your 9-3 mark?
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
Yeah, duh. Typing too fast. Will stick by 9-3, though. Road trips to Michigan State and Penn State still very difficult
When Wilson decided to go to Wisconsin, Everyone said it was a big question mark about how he would perform. Now O'Brian is joining Wisconsin and the exact same questions are being asked. What are the chances that it's the offensive line that makes a quarterback look so good. Tolzien anyone?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
That's quite possible. Any quarterback would be helped by having a great running game and monster O-line. I'm not sure how many questions there were about Wilson's ability as much as it was about his blending in a short period of time. Wilson had a much better track record than O'Brien. I think O'Brien will be fine -- not as great as Wilson, but still a very good QB.
Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)
Brian, the Mad Men finale was kinda soft, but I enjoyed the imagery in the last 10 minutes. Draper's look in the last shot was priceless. My question: MSU is essentially replacing its entire receiving group. Penn State is replacing its entire secondary. Which is a tougher position to reload?
Brian Bennett (3:17 PM)
Agree, Mochilla, but I kind of expected a low-key finale after the craziness of the previous two episodes. Going to be a long wait for the next season. Anyway, I'd say the secondary is a harder position, in general, to fill than receiver. WR is a position where young guys can often make an immediate impact, where that's a little harder in the defensive backfield if you have to fill multiple spots with new faces. Communication and leadership are keys there. But with a new QB as well, MSU will have its own growing pains.
So by inference, you are predicting an OSU win over Big Blue?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
An awful lot can change between now and Thanksgiving, but if I had to pick that game right now, I'm taking the Buckeyes at home. It will be their Super Bowl
Tony (Richmond, CA)
You have the Buckeyes losing on the road, so you Urban pulls a Tressell, and rights the ship against Michigan his first year? What do you have as the Wolverines record given you have them losing at Columbus, and I assume against Bama as well, 8-4?
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
I've struggled with a prediction on U-M's record. I think the Wolverines lose to 'Bama and OSU. Could they win the rest? Yes. Could they also lose at Nebraska, at ND and at home to Michigan State? Yes. I'm leaning toward 9-3 but could see 8-4.
BB, what is with Harvey Pearlman getting all of the words in edgewise in regards to the playoff talk. He's been in the BIG for barely a year and he's the voice we keep hearing (and its not helping to clear up any confusion). What's the deal?
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
Perlman is a leader and strong voice for the league presidents, just as he was in the Big 12. He wouldn't be out front speaking for the league if the other presidents and chancellors didn't want him to do so
HawkfanBeau (Quad cites )
wouldn't it be best for Iowa to lock up games against CO,UW,WSU for the future PAc/B1G? Iowa stinks in Arizona and I know Kirk doesn't want to go there again. If they don't do something they might well be stuck with them.
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
I just posted something about league teams already having a lot of deals in place with Pac-12 teams. The Big Ten and Pac-12 are going to want to set up the marquee series for 2017, but if I'm an AD and get an advantageous series going now that might bleed into when that agreement starts, I would certainly do it.
Which game will be more difficult for the Badgers, Nebraska or Penn Sate? Or whomever they meet in the B1G championship game?
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
That's a good question. Both will be extremely difficult games -- Nebraska because the Huskers will be fired up for revenge last year, and Penn State for the same reason plus it's an important division game. If forced to choose, I'd say Nebraska. While PSU's defense can slow down Wisconsin's offense at home, I just wonder if the Lions' offense can keep pace with the Badgers.
What is your way-too-early projection for who will be both the Legends and Leaders champions this upcoming year?
Brian Bennett (3:27 PM)
I've got Wisconsin and Michigan State repeating, for now. Reserve the right to change my mind before we make our official preseason picks
How is it that the MSU LB's are seen to be the top rated LB group in the Big Ten? While I don't doubt they are very talented PSU has a top 3 that could start just about on any team in the Big Ten.
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
They're both very, very good. I think Michigan State has better depth at all three positions and its backups, while Gerald Hodges is probably the best overall LB on either team. For me, it comes down to whether Michael Mauti is healthy for Penn State. If he's close to his old self, the Nittany Lions get a slight edge in my book. But I'd happily go to battle with either group as my LBs
dont you think draper has to end up with joan by the end of the series? shes the only woman hes ever had respect for(other than the real drapers widow)
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
I don't, because I think they both respect each other too much and work too closely together. Plus, I'm not sure America could handle the heat generated by those two.
Jase (St. Paul, MN)
I love the blog by you and Adam, but you still cannot match the actual football season. Will it ever come? It has been forever since it got over.
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
Just a couple more months, Jase. Enjoy the summer.
Morgan (UGA )
Why did Ohio State back out of the Georgia game?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
It was mostly due to the coming Pac-12 series. There's every likelihood that Ohio State will face one of the better Pac-12 teams, and playing that game plus Georgia in the same year would have been too difficult a schedule. There is currently no incentive to play a schedule that tough.
B (Alexandria, VA)
Even tougher way-too-early projection...which team puts up the most receiving yards this year? So many unproven receiving corps makes that a huge question mark in my mind.
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
That's a good question, and there aren't any bigger question marks around the league than at WR. I like Northwestern's crew. If Kain Colter develops as a passer, I think that group can do some really good things. Look out for Iowa as well. I think the Hawkeyes will sling it a lot this year with Vandenberg.
Do you think that if a selection committee is used to determine the top four teams for a playoff that Ohio state may want Georgia back due to strength-of-schedule considerations?
Brian Bennett (3:35 PM)
Not necessarily. If any team can win the Big Ten championship with one or fewer losses, especially if it has a win over a good Pac-12 team, that should be good enough most years to make a top four.
Most important game of the B1G season in 2012: Michigan State at Michigan. Is the winner of that game automatically the winner of the Legends Division?
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
Not automatically, because there's a team called Nebraska and Michigan State can potentially afford one road loss and still win the division, as it did last year. But overall, I'd agree that it's probably the biggest game in a schedule full of them this year.
Tyler (Quad Cities)
What style changes to you expect from Iowa after getting new OC and DC?
Brian Bennett (3:38 PM)
I suspect we'll see a bit more emphasis on the passing game under Greg Davis. I don't expect a ton of changes on defense with Phil Parker, who's been in the program for a long time. Maybe a bit more blitzing, but the average fan probably won't notice much difference.
Who would you take as your starting running back for one season if you could pick any back in the Big Ten?
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
It would be hard not to choose Montee Ball. He can do it all -- and we could talk about the St. Louis Cardinals all year. I'm also very intrigued by Le'Veon Bell. You don't find that kind of power and speed combo very often. He has a chance to be special this year.
What's your opinion on preseason rankings? I think they should wait until the first or second conference game. How does anyone know how good a team is when they play a bunch of nobodys in the few few games.
Brian Bennett (3:41 PM)
I think they're fine as a way to create interest, spark debate and see how people perceive teams. But I don't think polls should in any way have a say in how playoff or national championship teams are selected. They were never intended for that purpose.
Why is it that you go weeks at a time without answering questions regarding Illinois? Anyway, I have been impressed with the new staff. Is it strong enough to make Illinois a consistent winner?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
Well, we got 40 minutes into this chat before I saw a single Illinois question, and that was yours. I can only answer the questions that are submitted, and Illini fans have been very quiet this offseason. I think this is a pretty solid staff and that Illinois in many ways has underachieved for far too long. The key will be recruiting and keeping some of the best players from the state home.
Hey Brian. For the longest time I was misunderstanding the bigs playoff stance (like a lot of people I guess?) however I think I have a good alternative than I wanted to run by you: why not have the top 3 automatically make it into the playoff with an wild card reserved for a good team or a conference champion ranked between 4-6? Does that makes sense? Thank you do much!
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
That's pretty close to what the Big Ten has proposed. The problem is: how do you decide who's in the top 3? Or top 4-6? Our current ranking systems are flawed.
David (Ofallon IL)
Is it possible for a 1-loss B1G team to be in NCG talk legitimately? Wisconsin? Michigan?
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
Yes, it's possible, but it depends so much on what happens elsewhere. The SEC is almost guaranteed a spot if its champion finished with one loss or fewer, so the Big Ten would need every other contender to have one loss. What if Michigan beat Alabama but lost by a field goal on the road to Nebraska yet won the Big Ten at 12-1? The Wolverines would certainly have a strong case in a scenario like that. Wisconsin's nonconference schedule would hurt its cause.
walter white (your office)
this chat isnt over until i say its over!
Brian Bennett (3:46 PM)
Counting the days until July 15!
Do you see B1G to continue to have 8 conference game? Or will B1G move to a 9 conference games?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
The Pac-12 series has spooked the Big Ten away from a nine-game schedule, since that would mean 10 tough games (and it would be tougher to guarantee 7-8 home games every year.) What could change that is a heavy SOS component in the new playoff or further conference consolidation.
Brian, what's the big deal about the SEC/Big 12 bowl? When a playoff happens the game will never feature No. 1 vs No. 1. I don't think a game featuring Oklahoma State vs Arkansas, with zero tradition has much impact on the Big Ten or the Rose Bowl.
Brian Bennett (3:48 PM)
That's the rub. The champions will likely almost never play in the Champions Bowl. But if it's, say, an 11-2 Alabama vs an 11-1 Texas? Yeah, that would get some eyeballs.
So do you think Don Draper hooked up with a woman at the end of last nights episode?
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
I think it was meant to be somewhat ambiguous, but ol' Don definitely didn't shoot down the idea right away. If it didn't happen in that situation, it is coming soon.
Craig (Braintree MA)
Down the road, could you see Tony Dungy coaching at the UofM?
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
I don't think so. I believe Jerry Kill will be there a while, and Dungy will already be 57 this year. If he gets back into coaching, I would think it would be in the NFL
What Pac-12 opponent do you think Dave Brandon has scheduled Michigan to play leading up to the Big 10/ Pac 12 agreement starting in 2017?
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
I got the sense that it was more than one. A Michigan-Colorado reunion would be kind of fun. Wouldn't be surprised to see Utah on there as well. Sure hoping for USC.
Daniel (Washington, DC)
Brian, I am a huge Badgers fan, and despite the amazing success we have had at developing players, our recruitment of top targets (and inability to close with those kids) continues to worry me. What is the reason UW can never really get that elite QB/RB recruit, or some of the top OL recruits despite the recent success (especially on the O line)? Is it a location issue? Is it a tradition issue? What are your thoughts?
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
I'm not sure why you're worried about it after all the Badgers' recent success. They have a system they recruit to and they do it as well as anybody in the country. And they produce NFL draft picks. Who cares about recruiting rankings?
Starting in 2017 with the agreement of Pac 12/Big ten for ex- Wisconsin- USC would they each play a home game, away game. for ex- Wis home 2017 on road at USC 2018 or is more like 1 year type deal and each Big/Pac team plays different team each year?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
As far as I know, details of that sort have yet to be decided -- or announced, at least. I would heavily suspect that teams would alternate years with home/away, though it's possible the opponents could change on an annual basis. A two-year home-and-home seems like the easiest logistical way to do it.
@HuskerInsanity (Lincoln, NE)
You pulling for Stony Brook to win the whole thing at the College World Series??
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
I know Marcus Coker is. Great story.
Ultimately do you see Notre Dame joining the Big Ten?
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
No, I think that ship has sailed. If the Irish join a league, and I'm far from convinced that will ever happen, I believe it will be the Big 12 or ACC.
Mark Dantonio (East Lansing)
Hey BB, nice work as always. I got my club to a relevant stand point on the national scale, and people wanna see more of that crazy good defense I've created here and of course some more Hail Marys and trickery too. When we start playing the PAC-12 every year, what happens to note dame? I don't know if my club can handle 8 conference games, say a road match with Stanford and the Irish in a season.
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
You don't even have to look that far ahead, as the Spartans will play Oregon in 2014 and '15. That will be a very difficult schedule. I'd hate to see the ND series go away, it's something Michigan State might have to think about seriously. Then again, if SOS is a major component in the new playoff system, that could work in the Spartans' favor.
Hey Brian...how do you think you will fare this coming year in the fantasy football against Adam...? Will the Ginger hold the trophy at the end of the 2012 campaign?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
You mean the Non-Gingers? I fully expect to win again, though Adam will have the first pick and will no doubt take Montee Ball.
Gophers over/under 6 wins this year?
Brian Bennett (3:59 PM)
Under. I think 5-7 with that manageable nonconference schedule. But a couple of good breaks away from potentially 6-6.
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
OK, folks, that's all my time for today. Thanks for all the questions, and enjoy the week.