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Big East mailbag: Simply the best

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

GoWVU from Los Angeles writes: There is absolutely no doubt that Larry Fitzgerald was the best WR ever in the Big East. I truly enjoyed watching the awe-inspiring ability and class Fitz displayed even though he played with WVU's most ancient foe. Once in a while, there comes a player so amazing that he transcends the hatred of the rivalry and you must sit back to admire history unfold before your eyes. A number of Pitt fans offered congratulatory wishes when Pat White finished at WVU, and many Mountaineer fans still hold Larry Fitzgerald in equally high regard. You cannot deny greatness.

Brian Bennett: I received no sane arguments from anyone in my post last week about Fitzgerald being the best Big East receiver of all time. So congrats, Larry, you win the ESPN.com Big East Blog's All-Time Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. Come on down and collect it at any time*.

(* Offer not valid).


ChiCat from Chicago writes: You did an article on whether Larry Fitzgerald is the best receiver to come out of the Big East (he clearly is) in an effort to assess Kenny Britt's overall position in the Big East receiver pantheon. Your list ignored Cincinnati's Dominick Goodman. He's No. 2 all-time in catches in the conference, ninth all-time in receiving yards, and fourth all-time in receiving TDs. Those numbers are better than Santana Moss and Harry Douglas, who made your list. They are also much better than Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson, who didn't. And that's after playing in an offense that didn't throw much his first two seasons. Isn't this just another example of UC not getting any respect from the media who follow the Big East?

Brian Bennett: Dominick Goodman had a terrific career. But at his very best, he didn't compare to the top seasons that others on my list had. Consider that Goodman's best year was 2008, when he had 1,028 yard and seven scores. Compare that to Douglas, who has 1,265 yards as a junior and 1,159 as a senior. Or look at Andre Johnson, who had 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns as a redshirt junior. Moss did not produce as many yards but he was also a dynamic punt returner and a threat on reverses and gadget plays. You could make a strong argument that Goodman wasn't even the best receiver on his team this year, as Mardy Gilyard made the All-Big East first team and Goodman did not. In my opinion, Goodman is a slight notch below the choices on my list.


Dave from College Station, Texas, writes: Brian, great job with the blog this season. I know it's VERY early but with their toughest Big East opponents, in my opinion, playing in Piscataway, what are the chances Rutgers will get to that BCS bowl game?

Brian Bennett: It is, as you say, awfully early. But Rutgers gets West Virginia, Pitt, Cincinnati and South Florida at home, and its toughest road game looks like at Connecticut. That's a great advantage. The question really is whether the Scarlet Knights can find replacements at quarterback and receiver. They benefit from having the Big East schedule start in mid-October; by then, Greg Schiano may have found the answers.


Justin from York, Penn., writes: You said that Dave Wannstedt likes experienced QB's. But in all seriousness, with our recruiting class building upon depth wouldn't it make sense to start Pat Bostick or Tino Sunseri and build upon more towards the future instead of right now? Maybe these young players can get on a run like Cincinnati did this year? Time for Bill Stull to sit and watch.

Brian Bennett: Well, I don't believe -- and am sure Wannstedt would agree -- that you simply give the starting job to someone because they have more eligibility. The job has to be won. Bostick is only one year behind Stull, and he has not shown anything in the past two years to suggest he should be playing ahead of Stull. Sunseri is the wild card here, in my opinion. But he'll still have to earn it in spring and fall practice. I believe Stull maintains the edge here for now.


Collin from Syracuse writes: I am a big Syracuse fan and ironically a big Rutgers fan because my cousin is Brian Leonard, but in my heart I bleed Orange. I saw your article on recruiting class ranks and am happy with Rutgers being at the top. But am discouraged with SU being at the bottom but admit I am not surprised. I also saw that SU had many recruits coming in this weekend and none bigger than David Oku. Can you tell me what is going on with not only him, but with all the guys who came in this weekend? Do they actually have a chance at getting Oku as weird as it sounds to get a top 100 prospect?

Brian Bennett: No word yet from Oku -- who looks like a long shot for the Orange -- but Doug Marrone and his staff secured four solid commitments over the weekend. It was a good haul.


Daniel from Charleston, W. Va., writes: Brian, love the blog, man! It's great, seriously. I was looking over your recruiting needs for WVU, and just had some comments. First, you're right -- replacing Pat White is by far the biggest hole this year, or maybe any year. We have Jarrett Brown, who has some big-game experience (See: Rutgers 3OT). He is a senior this year, and the heir-apparent following him would be Eugene Smith. But what about Pat's little brother, Coley? Any word on whether he'll be a QB? Also, you mentioned our (desperate) need for a blocking back. See exhibit A: Chris Snook, Medina, Ohio. No. 2 fullback in the nation, and an early commit. Not sure if he'll be an Owen Schmitt, but he's a big, bruising back that can block, and should add that added threat we've been missing. Last, I know we've lost four starters on the O-line, and only two returners had substantial game time last season. But with Jeff Mullen's new offense (which I question at times), is it better just to get new guys in, and start over?
Brian Bennett: From what I'm hearing, Coley White will probably end up switching positions. I'd look for Brown to start and Smith to be his backup but get playing time in 2009 before taking over full time in 2010. We'll see about Snook. You can't count on any incoming freshman until they come in and prove themselves, though fullback should be a position where it's not terribly difficult to play right away. I don't know if I'd agree with you that it's ever a good thing to have turnover and inexperience on the offensive line. But with Selvish Capers in line to get an extra year, center Eric Jobe getting valuable experience at the end of the year and Josh Jenkins hopefully coming back from injury, the Mountaineers might be OK at offensive line. It will be one of their biggest questions going into 2009, for sure.