Welcome to the last Friday we'll have without at least one Big East team on the practice field until late April.
Issue for discussion at a later date: What did everyone think of the Mountain West's playoff proposal? Put aside for the moment that it has about the same chance of becoming reality as I do of dating Freida Pinto. What did you like and dislike about it, and how would such a system affect the Big East? Personally, I love the idea of a selection committee instead of the rankings and computer numbers, but I think an eight-team playoff is too much. I'm a plus-one proponent.
But I want to know what you think, so shoot me some e-mails. Speaking of which, time to answer some now.
Justin from New Jersey writes: Wow, huge boost for Pitt with Adam Gunn getting a rare sixth year of eligibility. With the hole that Scott McKillop has left in the middle, my immediate thought is that Gunn moves to the middle with Shane Murray and Greg Williams returning on the outside. Is this a dramatic change in outlook for you as far as the Pitt D is concerned?
Brian Bennett: Well, first of all, we need to make sure Gunn actually gets medically cleared. He did suffer a broken neck, after all, and there's no way to know how that will affect him going forward. But if he is able to come back and play at the level he did in 2007, then it's a big lift for the Panthers defense. Can he totally replace McKillop? That's still a tall order for him or anyone, but at the very least he adds depth and experience, and it will be a nice story to see him back on the field.
BearcatFan in Cincinnati writes: How does Gunn's case compare to Ben Mauk?
Brian Bennett: Mauk's biggest problem was a lack of documentation about his injury his freshman year at Wake Forest, according to the NCAA. Gunn had no such issues.
Frank from Parkersburg, W.Va., writes: So with all the recent turmoil with South Florida and Rutgers and other assistant coach changes in the league, and WVU's 'stability' ... is that because the coaches are not sought after or looking for better opportunities or just WVU being a status job to stay at?
Brian Bennett: Rich Rodriguez tried to bring defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel to Michigan, but Casteel hasn't shown any interest in leaving West Virginia. He's certainly got the credentials to go elsewhere. Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen was in his first year of calling plays and had an up-and-down season. He also strikes me as a guy who's not looking to move around a lot; he enjoyed the family atmosphere at Wake Forest under Jim Grobe. Several other assistants were in just their first season at the school, and many have ties to the area. So I think that explains it. Then again, who knows if some assistants were seeking other jobs and just didn't get them.
Ken from Philadelphia writes: With how well Brown, Butler, and Beatty performed at the combine does it surprise you that UConn only had seven wins last year? Bad QB and special teams play killed this team, but I don't think other Big East teams combined had three players grade out to be first- or second-rounders.
Brian Bennett: That's a good question, but I don't think it means UConn should necessarily have had more wins in 2008. Donald Brown, whom I assume you meant instead of Cody Brown, couldn't have played any better (not could Cody have, for that matter). Butler missed some games late with a knee injury. Special teams probably cost UConn the Rutgers game. But as you said, it was poor quarterback play that really killed this team. You just can't win big in college football without good quarterback play, and the Huskies proved that.
Andrew from NYC writes: BB in the place to be! Graham Watson reported that Miami (Oh.) is replacing Colorado with Kentucky this season, and that Bowling Green might add Colorado to its schedule, replacing Troy or Wyoming. Do you think Troy or Wyoming teams would be interested in USF (and vice versa)? How much is the buy-out for the Charleston Southern game?
Brian Bennett: If you're talking this year, not a chance. Remember that Charleston Southern replaced Florida International on the schedule. That will tell you what kind of team the Bulls wanted to play. They wanted a home game they could win because they've got Florida State and Miami on the docket. They didn't want a second FBS team, but they got caught shorthanded when FIU backed out to play Rutgers.
Aaron from Provo writes: So I was trying to find your Big East vs MWC entry, and stumbled across this little diddy by you in September: "You can give me all the Mountain West wins you want from this season and the past three, but none are better than West Virginia beating Oklahoma in the '08 Fiesta Bowl or Georgia in the '06 Sugar Bowl." If Utah over Pitt wasn't good enough for you, take Utah over Alabama!! Ha ha, eat your words, man! Hindsight sure is fun, but don't think we weren't calling it all along. You just don't listen. Have a good off season.
Brian Bennett: I won't be doing any word-eating, because what I wrote at the time was true. Utah obviously changed that with its win over Alabama, and I definitely acknowledge that. I'm pretty sure most Big East fans were rooting for you in New Orleans that night.