Friday mailbag

April, 24, 2009
4/24/09
10:38
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Happy Friday, everybody. I'm running my first half-marathon tomorrow morning, so hopefully I'll still be alive and blogging for you on Monday. Just in case, I'd better empty the inbox before then.

Chris from NYC writes: Penn State just agreed to a home-and-home series with Rutgers. They are playing Syracuse again this year. Why do they refuse to give Pitt the same terms as Rutgers or Syracuse?

Brian Bennett: You know, if Penn State wanted to claim before that they didn't need another tough non-conference game against a team in its own recruiting area, I could have lived with that. Disagreed with it, but understood the reasoning. But for the Nittany Lions to play Rutgers, against which it is constantly battling for recruits in New Jersey, and not the in-state Panthers makes no sense to me at all. These two programs need to get over whatever bad blood exists and make this rivalry happen again. By the way, one of our summer projects here at ESPN.com will involve dream scheduling. You can bet Pitt-Penn State will be on my list.


Jon from New Jersey writes: Brian, I disagree with your contention that "Rutgers football was a wasteland for decades" before Greg Schiano took over. They may not have had a lot of success, but the team was only truly awful after Terry Shea, the Greg Robinson of the 90s, took over. They also played a Patriot League-level schedule until the late 70s.

Brian Bennett: That comment was meant as more of a compliment to Schiano than a slam at Rutgers. Still, when you're talking about one bowl game appearance between 1869 and 2005, that seems like a wasteland to me, at least in terms of big-time football.


EW from Las Vegas writes: Brian, I heard the Tommie Duhart and T.J. Porter were dismissed from the Pitt team. Can you confirm this?

Brian Bennett: There has been no official word on either player yet from Pitt. But I would be surprised if either is back in a Panthers uniform. Porter was arrested on a DUI charge for the second time back in March, while Duhart was suspended most of the second half of last season for off-the-field issues and earned another suspension this spring. It's a shame, because both are talented guys.


Kris from Hollidaysburg, Pa., writes: Brian, I saw highlights of WVU's Noel Devine ripping off another long TD run in their spring game this past weekend, and I wanted to ask you what you think about Devine potentially playing in the NFL. A couple of things are obvious, e.g., his small stature and blazing speed. In fact, there may not be anybody in the Big East that's faster than Devine. And he's torched good defenses for long TD runs too, including Auburn and Oklahoma. (Trying to neutralize the bogus, "He plays in the Big East" argument.) Is Devine just another excellent college player that doesn't have much chance at the next level, or will he get a chance? If you think he'll get a chance, in what role? Special teams? Slot man? He's not a prototypical NFL running back, but there have been successful NFL backs that were also small like Devine.

Brian Bennett: Devine has such explosive speed that I'm sure he'll get a chance somewhere in the NFL. The question, of course, is whether he can be an every-down NFL back at his size (listed as 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds). The most obvious comparison I can think of is San Diego's Darren Sproles, who's only 5-6 and 181 pounds. He's proven to be a valuable player out of the backfield and on kick returns. Maurice Jones-Drew is only 5-7, but he's about 35 pounds thicker than Devine. Warrick Dunn has had an outstanding career despite only going about 5-9. So it can be done. Obviously, it's going to depend a lot on what team takes him and the opportunities he receives. But if you can play, you can play. This same question, by the way, will likely be asked about Louisville's Victor Anderson and maybe down the road about Pitt's Dion Lewis and Cincinnati's Darrin Williams.

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