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, everybody, and welcome to another Big Ten Monday chat. I'm here for the next hour, so fire away with your best questions.
Brian, best bowl game for the Big Ten this year? By that, I mean which game strikes your interest the most? Ohio States? Lol, just kidding on that.
Brian Bennett (3:02 PM)
The Rose Bowl is almost always going to be at the top of any Big Ten list, and Wisconsin-Stanford looks intriguing. I think Michigan-South Carolina will be really good as well. Some very fun matchups in that one.
So I was just wondering after another humiliating loss saturday is bo pelini on the hot seat especially with a new AD next year?
Brian Bennett (3:03 PM)
It's an extremely interesting question. If Pelini were to win the bowl game, he'd have 50 wins in five years. Yet he hasn't gotten the program over the hump. I think he deserves more time, but this is the same program that fired Frank Solich for similar results.
Watching the Championship game it was painfully obvious that Indy is not drawing the interest over the game that Chicago would (about 1/3 of the stadium was empty). You gotta believe the Nebraska faithful would have flooded Chicago and Wisconsin is a lot easier drive. How much longer is this game going to flounder in Indianpolis before it gets to where it should be at Soldier Field? I get that Indy rolls out the red carpet for the event, but Indy simply isn?t attracting fans.
Brian Bennett (3:05 PM)
Again, you have to blame a lot of it on the circumstances. Wisconsin fans just weren't that fired up to watch a 7-5 team that had lost two straight (though I bet a lot of Badgers fans wish they'd have made the trip). Huskers fans were saving for the Rose Bowl (D'oh!). While Chicago would draw more casual fans, I don't think we can truly judge Indy until there's a national title/playoff bid on the line in the game and/or if Ohio State or Michigan are in it.
Is it just me or does it appear that Butch Jones is interviewing Purdue for the coaching job, not the other way around?
Brian Bennett (3:07 PM)
Quite possible. Jones makes more money at Cincy than Hope did at Purdue. He's also interviewing at Colorado, though that program is a mess right now. I'd expect Cincinnati to make a big push to keep him, but the Big East situation is a tough one. Purdue must show Jones that it is committed and that he can win there.
People always make a big deal about me running up the score. I ran the ball almost the entire game. I didn't go for two even if my card said to. What do these people want from me? It's not like Nebraska didn't come from behind and beat us earlier in the year.
Brian Bennett (3:08 PM)
Wisconsin had 63 points with over six minutes left in the third quarter. If Bielema wanted to run up the score Saturday, the Badgers could have scored 84
steve z (lafayette, in)
NU's match up in the Gator Bowl seems to be a pretty good one, considering the options on the table yesterday. How do you see the Cats playing, and does Fitz get #50 at the same time NU breaks the bowl losing streak?
Brian Bennett (3:09 PM)
I'd expect them to play well. They should come in with a lot of confidence and hunger, and the time off should allow Colter and Mark to heal up. Mississippi State did not beat many good teams. Northwestern has a great shot.
Hey Brian, we have been going to the Insight Bowl the past two years to watch Iowa play. This year me and my buddies have to decide between Insight (Buffalo Wildwings) with TCU and State or Holiday with UCLA and Baylor. Which do you recommend? Our Winter Break could depend on it!
Brian Bennett (3:11 PM)
Hmm... Well, you should have a good idea of what to expect from Phoenix at this point. I think MSU-TCU will be a good, physical game, though there might not be a lot of points. UCLA-Baylor should be a thoroughly entertaining shootout. I'd rather be in San Diego than Arizona.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
Five weeks of practice, wow. I imagine the Gophers could put together a gimmick play where their three quarterbacks are all on the field for one play.
Brian Bennett (3:13 PM)
They're going to need everything in the playbook to keep up with Texas Tech. Getting healthy is probably the No. 1 objective, as the Gophers were pretty darn banged up down the stretch.
Justin (West Palm Beach, FL)
BB, What's your opinion on your colleague Andrea Adelson's bashing of the B1G in her recent blog post (http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/49411/acc-bashing-should-stop)?
Brian Bennett (3:14 PM)
Andrea's a friend and does a great job. I disagree with her assessment that the ACC is getting bashed more than the Big Ten. Big Ten bashing has become a national pastime. The ACC has earned every one of its criticisms through continual flopping on the big stage.
John Belushi (Faber, WI)
Hey Brian, over the past four games of the season (arguably the 4 most important of the season since Indiana was a playoff) Montee Ball has rushed for 700+ yards and 8 touchdowns in addition to setting the NCAA records for both rushing and total touchdowns. I know he won't win it, but what are the odds Montee Ball gets invited back to New York for the Heisman presentation as sort of a tip of the cap to his career? And can I expect to see #28 on the Camp Randall facade in the near future or is Dayne that much beyond him in legend?
Brian Bennett (3:16 PM)
I think his push came too late and too many voters had already written him off. Wisconsin's record was also a big problem for his candidacy. I sincerely hope he wins the Doak Walker, and Ball deserves special recognition at Wisconsin for an unbelievable career.
Larry (Las Vegas)
Although it didn't affect the outcome of the game, the Big 10 officiating sucked as usual. Will anthing happen off season to improve the situation?
Brian Bennett (3:18 PM)
Agree. Blatant missed holding call, bad call on Kenny Bell, no call on Borland body-slamming Taylor Martinez. For once, Nebraska was the victim of bad calls, though it made absolutely no difference in the outcome. I expect the Big Ten will do some serious training of its refs this offseason after a bad year for the men in stripes.
Three consecutive trips to the Rose Bowl is starting to hurt my wallet. Please give me some optimism I will get to see a win this time around!
Brian Bennett (3:20 PM)
No one is going to feel sorry for you for getting to go to Pasadena three years in a row. I'd gladly go to the Rose Bowl every year for the rest of my life. Stanford is really good, but I think this is the best matchup of the three for Wisconsin. The Cardinal don't have the speed burners that TCU and Oregon had who killed them. Both teams are similar in their styles of play.
Garrett (Charlottesville, VA)
Lifelong Nebraska fan here. Should I be angry at the way the Huskers performed Saturday in the title game? I'm a little flabbergasted they could have performed so badly. And whats up with these turnovers? Something has got to give.
Brian Bennett (3:22 PM)
You should be angry. That was a disgraceful performance. Just unacceptable to play that poorly in such a big game. Nebraska has got to find some consistency and figure out why it keeps having these disasters in big games away from home.
chris [via mobile]
Hey Brian, really enjoy the blog, keep it up. Who do the gophers go with at qb against Texas Tech? I have my doubts Nelson can put up enough points to keep up, but Marquise hasnt thrown much this season. I say go with Nelson to give him some big stage experience for what hopefully will be a spectacular college career.
Brian Bennett (3:23 PM)
I think it definitely will be Nelson. He's the guy now and the experience -- plus the 15 bowl practices -- will help immensely. We could see Gray in for some snaps, especially in goal-line situations, but the Gophers have turned this team over to Nelson.
The worst team to ever make the Rose Bowl was a 6-4-1 UCLA team that destroyed a perfect in the Big 10 Illinois 45-9. Wisconsin fans should have some hope.
Brian Bennett (3:24 PM)
Ivan Maisel mentioned that to us this morning when Adam and I went on his podcast. If Stanford doesn't realize this Wisconsin team is much more dangerous than its 8-5 record suggests, it could be in for a similarly long afternoon in Pasadena.
The difference is, Brian, we pay for our flights, meals, and hotel reservations.
Brian Bennett (3:25 PM)
I totally understand that. But going to the Rose Bowl is still a special experience. I'm sure there are 11 other Big Ten fan bases who would gladly trade with you.
Blackhawk (GR MI)
When you referred to the "Blatant missed holding call", are you talking about blockers holding two defenders on TMart's 99 yard TD run?
Brian Bennett (3:26 PM)
I was talking about the one on Wisconsin's Havenstein, but there was that one as well. Point being, it just was a lousy year for the refs, and that didn't change on Saturday with what should have been the league's top crew.
Brian (Portland, Ore)
Hey Brian - only Penn State news this time of year is recruiting both preps as well as their own players. That being said, who do you think are the most likely candidates from the current roster to leave before August?
Brian Bennett (3:28 PM)
The "Supa Six" seem to be very committed, and those guys are the ones worth worrying about the most because they're both young and very talented. I think the most likely candidates would be those who are backups who might see obstacles for their playing time. In other words, guys who might be interested in transferring anyway who will take advantage of the rule.
Craig (Braintree, MA)
If Kill knew that Northern Illinois would have made it to the BCS bowl, would he have stayed there?
Brian Bennett (3:29 PM)
Nope. Not even Dave Doeren wanted to stay.
Mike (Omaha, NE)
I keep seeing articles about Wisconsin's depth of offensive play calling in the championship game. I was there and from where I was sitting. Wisconsin ran about 4 plays...Counter, Sweep, Fake sweek, and a play action roll out pass about 10 times. Wisconsin did a great job of using plays to expose Nebraska's small and slower perimeter defense. At the end of the day the Huskers were outplayed, outcoached, and primarily just didn't show up. Think they will bounce back against Georgia?
Brian Bennett (3:30 PM)
Well, come on. There was the receiver pass to the QB, the RB pass out of the barge, the swinging gate. Some of those were just exotic for the sake of it, but Wisconsin also used all kinds of formations and personnel grouping to keep Nebraska guessing. You are right in that it wouldn't have worked if Wisconsin didn't completely dominate the line of scrimmage.
All the other conference bloggers posted a pre-bowl games power rankings except for the Big 10. Where are our power rankings?
Brian Bennett (3:31 PM)
That's not true. Only a couple of them did. We were instructed to run them Wednesday morning, and so we will
If you are Georgia's coach...do you clock that ball with 15 sec left?
Brian Bennett (3:32 PM)
No question about it. Gives you at least two shots into the end zone.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Any word on whether Tim Beckman will start referring to Northern Illinois as "That other team upstate?"
Brian Bennett (3:33 PM)
That's funny. And unfortunately it passes as the only Illinois question I've received during this chat
Mike (Columbus, OH)
You have Ohio State ranked 5th behind A&M and Florida because they have more impressive resumes. Ok, I get that.So how do you have Northern Illinois ranked ahead of teams like Nebraska, Michigan, and Northwestern? More Big Ten hating from our blogger. Classic.
Brian Bennett (3:34 PM)
It's not Big Ten hating. I have six Big Ten teams ranked! Northern Illinois is 12-1 and the MAC was very good this year. Yeah, Huskies lost to Iowa, but it was the first game of the year and they had a new QB (who's amazing, by the way). NIU led until very late in that game. Do I think Northern Illinois really belongs in a BCS game? Probably not. But it has had a fantastic season.
Christian Dasher (Hattiesburg, MS)
SEC! SEC! SEC! No, but seriously. The fact that the Big Ten has two ineligible teams which are easily the two best in the conference hurts the Big Ten in the bowl games. As you see, Wisc gets to the Rose Bowl with 5 losses which puts them around 3rd or fourth in the conference.. So when you get to the Cap One Bowl, Gator Bowl, and Outback Bowl you end up having the lowest of the eligible Big Ten teams vs the top in the SEC (GA,USC). Does this severely hurt the attraction of the bowl games?
Brian Bennett (3:36 PM)
Where it really hurts, in my mind, is in the two Texas bowls. With PSU and Ohio State in, Minnesota is probably in Detroit playing Central Michigan, while Purdue is an at-large playing another 6-6 type team. Instead, they play Big 12 teams in Texas. Tough. The actual SEC matchups with Nebraska, Michigan and Northwestern are not all that unfavorable.
Illini Mike (Chicago)
Brian you gotta take an Illini question. Any thoughts on our JUCO commits?
Brian Bennett (3:37 PM)
For sure. I can't profess to have scouted out junior college football to tell you how good these guys are. But I think Illinois absolutely had to go that route to fill some immediate holes. Juco guys don't always pan out, but if the Illini can get 3-4 who do for next year, it will be extremely helpful.
JP (The OC)
Please tell all the Bret B "haters' to go find something else to do. Yes, he has lost some close ones but the criticism needs to end. He is a fine coach and some Badger fans are extremely happy to have him.
Brian Bennett (3:39 PM)
Any Badgers fan who doesn't appreciate Bielema is just silly. Does he have some flaws? Sure, and most coaches do. But the job he's done there speaks for itself.
Daniel, West Lafayette [via mobile]
Brian, Is the NC State job more attractive than Purdue? Doeren reportedly told Purdue he wasn't interested, then promptly bailed on the Huskies for the job in Raleigh? The ACC is not really considered a football conference, so what gives?
Brian Bennett (3:40 PM)
I think NC State is a slightly better job. The facilities there are good and it's more serious about football than many ACC schools. The big difference, though, is recruiting. NC State is a lot closer to some talent hotbeds, while Purdue has to go outside its area to find talent.
Chris (Chicago, IL)
Chance to finish in top 15, chance to get 10 wins, chance to go 2-0 versus SEC, chance to end 9 game/65 year bowl losing streak, and a chance to make your head coach the winningest coach in program history....is it fair to say Northwestern may have the most to gain from a bowl win out of any B1G team?
Brian Bennett (3:42 PM)
Fair, and I'd say spot on. I'd also add that this team will bring the majority of the two-deep back, so a win could also have Northwestern in the preseason Top 20 for 2013.
It is quite amazing what B.O.B. did with the PSU offense with such a short amount of time once he came on board after the Super Bowl. What do you think he can accomplish offensively with a full off-season of preparation?
Brian Bennett (3:43 PM)
An extra year of familiarity with the offense and more playing experience can only help guys like Allen Robinson, Zach Zwinak and those promising young tight ends. Problem will be the QB spot, as McGloin was a fifth-year senior with lots of experience. PSU will only have Steven Bench and incoming frosh Christian Hackenburg, both of whom are talented but green. That's O'Brien's big challenge for '13.
Nebbie Fan (Home)
If Nebraska beats Georgia where do you think they will fall in the final BCS rankings? (Both Georgia and Nebraska)
Brian Bennett (3:44 PM)
Well, the BCS standings are final, but Nebraska should finish in the top 15 if it beats Georgia. It probably would deserve a little higher placement, but that 70-point game will linger in voters' minds.
Mochila (Grand Rapids, MI)
Over/under 20.5 total points scored in the MSU-TCU game.
Brian Bennett (3:45 PM)
I'll take the over, but not by a whole lot. The extra time to prepare should help MSU's passing game, and both teams will likely throw in some new offensive wrinkles. Two pretty stout defenses, though.
Daniel, West Lafayette [via mobile]
A short follow-up then: will that help Purdue land Butch Davis, as he recruits Indy and Ohio well, whereas he had little connection to Colorado area recruiting?
Brian Bennett (3:47 PM)
Butch Jones, you mean. No question that Jones has more familiarity with the area around Purdue. Colorado has to recruit from a wide area, including California and Texas. But the Buffs have a lot more problems than just that. I'd rather live in Boulder than West Lafayette, but I think it will take longer to win at Colorado.
GBK (Lincoln Park)
Brian, given that Michigan lost to the #1,2 and 3 team in the country, should fans maybe be less disheartened by the results of the season than they seem to be? I know I had thought a Big 10 title game appearance was a possibility, and given that they lost to ND and OSU by 12 points total, I don't feel as bad as I did after the last game.
Brian Bennett (3:49 PM)
It's pretty amazing, isn't it? And the fourth loss was to the Legends Division champ when your starting QB got hurt. Hard to blame Michigan too much for losing those games, but at the same time the Wolverines should have gotten at least one win in a marquee game. If nothing else, proves this program hasn't gotten back to the elite level yet.
Lou (Gaithersburg, MD)
Pretty ironic that the bowls didn't want to touch PSU with a 10-foot pole last year; now they're probably dying to have them, no?
Brian Bennett (3:50 PM)
I don't consider it ironic that bowls didn't want to take a team in the midst of the worst scandal in the history of college sports that had just fired its iconic coach last year, no.
Chances that Nebraska travels well to the Capital One Bowl a second year in a row? Got a bad feeling about it.
Brian Bennett (3:51 PM)
Big Red travels as well as anybody, and they had a pretty good turnout in Indy when it was all said and done. But I share your concern. Fans are no longer excited about this team, and lots of them went to the same spot last year.
Referring to the game being moved to Chicago to draw fans- The field is the worst in the NFL-why risk injury. Second- no one wants to sit in lousy weather where players can't perform. Indy is a superior site- it will sell out every year as long as Meyer stays at OSU.
Brian Bennett (3:52 PM)
Agree with you about the turf. I would like to see the Big Ten at least give Chicago a shot in the future. If nothing else, the change would create some new excitement about the game. Strangely, it's been very warm in the Midwest the last two years for the game.
Doug ( Ohio ) [via mobile]
The NCAA has to only allow conf champ To participate in playoff. If your not the best in your conf you can't be the best in the nation. Conf champ games should be first round
Brian Bennett (3:53 PM)
That will never fly, but I understand your point. The Big Ten has pushed to make conference championships really matter for the four-team playoff. Delany could not have been happy to see SI.com's playoff mock last week include two teams that didn't even win their own division (Florida, Oregon).
AJ (ALL 'BOUT THE U)
If OSU wasn't sanctioned this year and were playing in the BCS championship game could you see thm beating either Alabma or ND?
Brian Bennett (3:54 PM)
Well, the Buckeyes would be playing Notre Dame. While that Irish front seven is imposing, if you give Urban Meyer five weeks to prepare I'd like his chances. Ohio State would very much have a shot.
Brian, you and Adam talked preseason about Nebraska having a full year with their system and how they would be improved on offense. Given the, ah, interesting year that Wisconsin has had on that side of the ball, how do you Wisconsin's offense fairing in 2013? They're only losing Montee Ball (I feel ashamed for saying that) and Ricky Wagner (Frederick will probably stay).
Brian Bennett (3:55 PM)
Not worried about Wisconsin's offense. Lots of turmoil this year, from the staff turnover to three different starting QBs. Montee Ball is great, but even he admits that Melvin Gordon has more raw talent. Stave showed he can be a good QB, and there will be competition from O'Brien and Bart Houston. Biggest thing Wisconsin needs to do is develop some more WRs.
It's funny, under the new system Northern Illinois still would be in a major bowl as "the best of the rest." Considering how bad the Big 10 was and their pathetic non-conference schedule, I could see Ohio State left out of the semi-finals too.
Brian Bennett (3:57 PM)
Nope. No way an undefeated Big Ten champ ever gets left out of the four-team playoff.
tdiddy (winnipeg) [via mobile]
As a very casual fan of NCAA football I still like to watch the National Championship game. But I don't get why there is 5 weeks between Nd and Bama's last games and the title game. Is this changing next year with the playoffs coming?
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Blame finals and Christmas. The semis should start on Jan. 1, with the title game a week to 10 days later. And that's 2014, not next year.
Is Beckman's biggest priority this offseason making sure Aaron Bailey makes it to Champaign? If he was to switch Illinois has zero mojo working in any phase of football.
Brian Bennett (3:58 PM)
Illinois has a whole bunch of needs. But, yes, losing Bailey would be a devastating blow and send a bad message.
Hey Brian,Any love for the Leaders Division this year? Looks to me like the top 3 teams in the Leaders were possibly the best 3 teams in the conference this year. So much for realigning the divisions or listening to Pat Fitzgerald and letting another Legends team sneak in to the Championship game... The Leaders Division was the Rodney Dangerfield of Big Ten football this year.
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
Illinois, Indiana and Purdue brought the division down, and let's not forget Wisconsin was 4-4 in the B1G
Brian Bennett (4:00 PM)
OK, guys, that's all the time I have for today. Thanks for the great questions and enjoy the rest of your week.