Who says Mondays stink? Well, at least they are brightened up by our weekly chats. If you missed it this week, you can still get your dose of sunshine with this full transcript and these rays of (high)lights.
Andrew Z. (Struthers, OH): How much will Ohio State miss John Simon? And where would you rank him all-time in school history?
Brian Bennett: It's hard to quantify what Simon's leadership meant to that team, and that's what the Buckeyes will miss the most. With the news that Johnathan Hankins is (unsurprisingly) going pro, Ohio State loses all four starters on the D-line, though it has many talented youngsters. As far as where Simon would rank, I'd have to give that some thought.
Bob (Columbus, Ohio): Brian,Really enjoy the blog. Breakdown the bowl season. Who do you think has the best chance to win? Who has the toughest matchup? Early bowl record prediction? And what would a good bowl record mean to this conference's perception?
Brian Bennett: Best chance: Northwestern. Toughest: Tossup between Minnesota and Purdue. Early record prediction: 2-5. A good bowl season could help restore some of the reputation of the league, but it really comes down to whether Wisconsin can beat Stanford and whether the league can do any damage against the SEC in Florida.
Aaron (Leesburg, VA): Do you like or dislike, the new football coach hire at Purdue? How long will it take Hazell to turn things around if he's the right guy in your opinion?
Brian Bennett: I really like it. Hazell is an impressive guy who knows the Big Ten. Purdue isn't far away from being good; the Boilers are in a bowl game, after all. Question is where is their ceiling? Can Hazell get them to a Big Ten title game? Not sure, but asking for 7- or 8-win seasons most years isn't out of the question.
Jeremy (NJ): People said it might be years 2, 3, 4 that PSU really feels the impact of the sanctions. But after a big recruiting weekend, they are right around a top 25 recruiting class. What does the short-term future look like for PSU right now?
Brian Bennett: O'Brien can really sell an NFL development system, and that's important. Here's the thing for the Nittany Lions: they can't afford very many misses in recruiting, with only 15 scholarships to give. Most classes will have a handful of players who do not turn out to be very good for a variety of reasons. Penn State can't afford that if it wants to have any depth at all.
Craig (Braintree, MA): Impact of Tuberville's departure on bowl game is:
Brian Bennett: Cloudy. The history of bowl teams playing without their head coach from the regular season is, unfortunately, long and mostly muddled. Sometimes it makes an impact, sometimes it doesn't seem to have any effect. I can't see any way this is a bad thing for Minnesota. The Gophers are big underdogs, so any turmoil on the opponent side is a welcome sight.
Hank (Washington DC): Do you think Michigan has a chance to upset the Cocks in the Outback Bowl?
Brian Bennett: I do think there's a chance. South Carolina doesn't typically score a lot, so that helps. And while the Gamecocks' D is strong, if Michigan can figure out the right way to use Denard and Devin this month, that offense ought to be able to put up some points.
Samuel (Iowa City, Iowa): Brian, do you think Kirk Ferentz was mindful of low pay for assistants when replacing his OC and DC after the '11 season? And in general with all his assistants?
Brian Bennett: Hard to say for sure, because Ferentz is pretty married to his system and had never changed coordinators before at Iowa. But he hired an OC who'd been out of football for a year and promoted from within for the DC. I doubt you would have seen an SEC team go those routes.