Friday mail: Trivia answer
You disappoint me, dear readers.
You're normally so astute that I thought you would get the answer to the trivia question I posed on Tuesday: Which current Big East coaches are undefeated in bowl games (with at least one appearance as a head coach in a bowl game)?
Thirteen readers wrote in to say the answer was Bill Stewart. And, yes, the West Virginia coach is 2-0, having won the Fiesta and Meineke Car Care bowls the past two seasons. But you're only half right.
You didn't really think I'd make it that easy, did you?
Two other readers wrote in to say Stewart and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, but Schiano is 3-1 in bowls.
OK, it's kind of a trick question. Note that the wording of the question does not say which current Big East head coaches are undefeated in bowl games. Just coaches. There's your phone-a-friend hint. I'll give you some more time to think about it, then hit you with the answer at the end of this mailbag.
Dave from Pittsburgh writes: USF just hired the Clemson assistant to coach their LBs. How will the co-defensive coordinator thing work?
Brian Bennett: I don't have all the particulars yet on David Blackwell's new role with the Bulls, but I think sometimes those titles are overblown. On most staffs, assistants work together to formulate the defense. And often you'll see titles given to coaches simply as a way to bestow more prestige and salary. I'm sure Joe Tresey and Blackwell will work closely together, along with all the other defensive assistants. And don't forget that head coach Jim Leavitt is a defensive-minded guy who'll have plenty of input.
John from Parts Unknown writes: Maybe you can find out from the brass at the Big East office why they would be upset about the Rutgers/USF switch with FIU but couldn't care less that Notre Dame will play UConn and Syracuse in the Meadowlands, 12 miles from Rutgers' home stadium, without even getting permision from Rutgers? Sounds like a double standard and zero support for Rutgers. If the Big Ten comes calling ...
Brian Bennett: That's a strange question. Since when did teams need permission to play games close to another school's stadium? Does Duke need North Carolina's permission every time it has a home game? Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) are playing at Paul Brown Stadium this September. Do they need Cincinnati's permission? I don't see how this is an issue.
Jeff from Glastonbury, Conn., writes: With Donald Brown leading the nation in rushing last year, and before that Andre Dixon having a very good year himself, and given that between Dixon and Jordan Todman UConn could have another very good year at running back, do you think it is possible for UConn to be looked as a destination school for producing productive running backs?
Brian Bennett: Interesting question. Let's wait and see what happens with this new offense under Joe Moorhead. UConn is going to throw the ball more, though I believe the running game will still be their bread and butter. If they continue to have success on the ground, I don't see why any running back wouldn't be interested in going to a place that's committed to the running game.
Johnny from Pittsburgh writes: Brian, in your linebacker review you listed Pitt under "Big Questions," but I disagree with you. I realize that you published that piece only hours before Adam Gunn was given his sixth year of eligibilty so I'm not trying to rip into you. Gunn gives the Panthers their third returning starter at linebacker. Shane Murray, returning from his own 2008 injury, and Gunn started alongside Scott McKillop in 2007, and Greg Williams started in place of Gunn in 2008. Knowing Dave Wannstedt's preference for experience --which I know you, Brian, are familiar with as well -- I'm expecting in 2009 that Wannstedt will start Gunn at MLB flanked by Williams and Murray. I realize that no one in that group is Scott McKillop, but that's what people were saying about McKillop when H.B. Blades graduated. All three players have at least one full season of starting at LB under their belts. I realize that Gunn has not yet been medically cleared to play yet, but it's expected that he'll play in 2009 even if he has to skip spring ball as a precaution. Has your opinion about Pitt's LB situation changed at all?
Brian Bennett: You're right, it was unfortunate that I published that just hours before the Gunn news broke. I also didn't give nearly enough weight to Murray's return. I'm still going to remain cautious on both Gunn and Murray until I see that they're both medically cleared and healthy. And McKillop is a huge loss any way you slice it. But if all goes well, Pitt could certainly have one of the better linebacking groups in the conference, and I will happily upgrade their status before the season begins.
Chuck from Dublin, Ohio, writes: Your article was nice and sarcastic, but I wonder if you've done your homework? You simply refer to Zack Stoudt as a redshirt freshman. Read up on him. Broke most all of Brady Quinn's record in high school. 3,600 yds passing, 34 TDs, 13-1 record, 1st team All Ohio, Rivals No. 18 QB, Max Emfinger No. 3 QB in the Nation! Son of NFL QB. Maybe you should look him up. Watch him in action maybe. Google SI Vault and search for his videos. We haven't forgotten him here at Dublin Coffman. The writers seem to have forgotten him since he redshirted.
Brian Bennett: I didn't think I used much sarcasm in my story on Louisville's quarterbacks, but whatever. I know plenty about Stoudt and have seen him in practice several times in the past two years. All your high school numbers and rankings are worth about as much as Bear Stearns stock; they're completely irrelevant at the college level. Matt Simms had some high school good numbers and was the son of an NFL quarterback, too. And where is he? Oh, yeah -- junior college. With all that said, Stoudt looks the best of all the Louisville quarterbacks simply from a physical standpoint. He's tall, has a good arm and good mechanics. He just hasn't figured it all out yet. Could he win some playing time this year? Sure, but I don't think he's ready right now.
Aaron from Cincinnati writes: I'm so tired of hearing about "playoffs." College football is an AMATEUR sport, these guys are supposed to be STUDENTS. The best system is one we already had, the bowl system. College football isn't about a postseason, it is about the actual season, that being conference play. Any semblance of a playoff works against the importance of conference play. I could list a thousand reasons why playoffs destroy everything we love about college football, and the only knock on the old bowl system is there is no real "national champion." Of course all that is BS, a playoff or BCS type system would invariably depend on media and coach voting anyway. At least the bowl system ensured games that people were interested in watching. I guess I just don't understand the controversy...
Brian Bennett: I like many aspects of the bowl system, and as I'v
e said in the past many times, I'm an advocate for a "plus-one" model using the bowls. But let's not so easily dismiss the playoff structure. Heck, I'm still buzzing from last night's six-overtime Big East tournament game between Syracuse and Connecticut. If college football could capture half the excitement of March Madness with its postseason, that would be a huge upgrade over some of these meaningless mid-December bowls and ho-hum BCS games we've been subjected to in recent years.
VinceD from Parts Unknown writes: This is in response to your trivia question about which Big East coach is undefeated in bowl games. I know West Virginia University coach Bill Stewart, after all the criticism WVU took for hiring him, is in fact undefeated in bowl games as the head coach. 2-0-- A thrashing of a very good Oklahoma team in the '08 Fiesta Bowl, when WVU would have no doubt been in the National Title game if Rich Rodriguez had opened up the play book like Bill Stewart did against Oklahoma in Glendale the week before at Heinz Field against Pitt. Then this past bowl season, coach Stewart was right there with one of the best coaches in college football, Butch Davis, in one of the best games of the bowl season, matching him play call for play call as Pat White put on a passing clinic for the NFL scouts as Stewart edged out Davis for the win. There may be more than one coach that fits this question that I'm not aware of, but I think Coach Stew deserves some respect for what he has accomplished.
Brian Bennett: Yes, Stewart deserves a lot of credit for two great bowl wins. Which leads me, finally, to the other half of my trivia answer. The other current Big East coach who's undefeated in bowl games is Cincinnati offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jeff Quinn. He served as interim head coach for Central Michigan's 2006 Motor City Bowl victory after Brian Kelly left for Cincinnati. In fact, Quinn is undefeated in his career as a head coach, at 1-0.