I give up trying to figure out who's the best team in the Big East. Maybe we should just hand out participation trophies and be done with it.
Let's move on to your e-mail:
Andrew from Toledo, Ohio, writes: Homer's Brain : [moans] "You can stay, but I'm leaving." [brain floats away; Homer is now staring blankly]. After UConn beat Pitt, this pretty much sums up the Big East for me this year.
Brian Bennett: Mmm ... mediocrity.
Nathan from Temple Terrace, Fla., writes: With the Pitt loss, it now looks like everyone has a theoretical chance of winning the Big East. The scenario for USF is relatively simple (win out plus one more league loss for WVU and Syracuse). Have you had the time to think through what the necessary puzzle-pieces are for the rest of the league?
Brian Bennett: Pass the aspirin.
Evan from Rochester, N.Y., writes: With Pitt's loss to UConn, what more has to happen for Syracuse to win the Big East outright? Also, do you think Montana's decision to stay in the FCS will effect Villanova's decision process in anyway?
Brian Bennett: Like everybody else, Syracuse just needs to keep winning. Odds are this is going to be a big old jumbled mess that's too unpredictable to call at this point. Montana turning down the WAC was interesting, but this is the WAC that's adding powerhouses like Denver and Texas-San Antonio. Totally different world when you're talking about joining a BCS AQ league and the dollars involved.
Newman from Clifton writes: A lot of people around campus are talking like the season's over -- and I was one of them until I took a look at the standings yesterday before the Pitt-UConn game. Wth Pitt's loss, won't Cincinnati have as good a chance as anybody at the league title if we pull out a W tomorrow? This is obviously a moot point if we lose, but it's not time to pack it in either.
Brian Bennett: Hello, Newman. (Seinfeld and Simpsons references in the same mailbag? Love it.) My new Big East power rankings look like this:
2. Eight-way tie.
And by vacant, of course, I mean TCU.
Jerry from Indianapolis writes: As a Pitt grad and after watching Thursday night's game, I feel like I am watching Groundhog Day again. Year after year, the most talented team fails to live up to preseason expectations. Year after year, Pitt is outcoached and beaten by less talented teams. I understand that Coach Wannstedt is a great recruiter but at what point does the heat get turned up? (and yes, I know he won 10 games last year). Is this year going to be any different from previous years? I need comfort since I am stuck in Big Ten country. Thanks.
Brian Bennett: I feel your pain, Jerry. This has become a recurring and disturbing theme for Pitt, which has way too much talent to be blowing opportunities over and over again. Wannstedt is in no great danger -- he's much loved by the administration, is a solid "Pitt guy" and has recruited like gangbusters -- but fans are getting very restless. And I can't blame them. Does the Big East even want Pitt to go to a BCS game this year and lay another egg?
Brian from Tampa writes: Inviting UCF to the Big East would be the worst thing for the conference and for USF. UCF has only beaten 2 BCS teams in the history of the program (last one being 10 years ago). They are 0-2 this year against BCS teams. The hype is bologna in Orlando. TCU and 'Nova. These two teams would be huge for the Big East.
Brian Bennett: I'm guessing by your hometown that you're not much of a UCF fan, Brian. I would ask what USF had ever done before it came to the Big East? The Knights have great potential and might be as good right now as any team in the 2010 Big East. TCU is a given, but I find it funny that you don't think a currently ranked UCF team adds anything to the league while you heartily support a current FCS program.
Larry B. from Carneys Point, N.J., writes: Big East expansion seems to always be discussed with the limitations of ballooning the b-ball side of the house as an insurmountable obstacle. Couldn't it be as simple as inviting new members for all sports and splitting the b-ball teams into two divisions? The b-ball only schools in one division and the f-ball schools in another. The f-ball schools agree to the condition that only the top eight go to MSG so that the conference tourney doesn't last for weeks. 10-12 in one division and 8-10 in the other (if b-ball only wanted more teams). It seems like a simple solution to an overblown problem.
Brian Bennett: You're missing one thing: The value of the TV contract for basketball hinges a lot on the established rivalries and marquee matchups. You'd lose some of that with split divisions. Networks want two meetings a year between high-profile teams like Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, UConn, Villanova, etc. There are no simple solutions here.
'Cuse Kid from London writes: What is the point of creating arbitrary rankings for the teams in the Big East each week when the conference standings alone can show who is in what place? Syracuse is clearly the second -best team because they are currently second place in the conference. Even if they did get upset by Louisville, SU still has earned the right for the second spot in your "rankings" since they are in second in the league. Moving them down to fourth is ridiculous. Louisville at number two is criminal.
Brian Bennett: So you think head-to-head results are arbitrary, eh? Especially when one team beats another on the road? Louisville and Syracuse have the exact same number of wins over FBS teams this year; the Orange have just played one more conference game so far. The Cardinals beat the Orange solidly with their backup QB and backup running back.
Louisville also beat UConn, which beat Pitt, which beat Syracuse, though Syracuse beat Cincinnati, which beat Louisville ... My head hurts.
Robert G. from Louisville writes: Read your "Butch Jones staying the course" and being a Louisville fan I couldn't help but see some glaring similarities to our situation four years ago. New coach, good credentials, a players coach, highly touted players at the skill positions followed by loss after loss and then the conversation about there were things going on within the program that "Joe Public has no idea". Look for some dismissals, some athletes quiting maybe one or two arrests if the losing continues. They're our rivals but I hope Cincinnatti and Butch turn it around and can be successful.
Brian Bennett: Some of the parallels are eerie, including inheriting a lot of skill players but a very young defense, and losing to Syracuse at home in Year 1. But I think Cincinnati under Jones is in better shape than Louisville under Steve Kragthorpe. (At least Jones didn't say he was the captain of the ship). We haven't seen a lot of player departures or anything like that. Still, Jones has his work cut out for him. He took on a more difficult challenge than many fans probably realize.
Aaron from Roanoke, Va., writes: I'm a huge WVU fan, so stay with me on this. I like Bill Stewart, and if the Mountaineers run the table and finished 9-3, 5-2 in conference and win a bowl game, how do you fire a coach that goes 10-3? I think it is too early to talk about firing Bill Stewart. If the Cuse, Pitt, and WVU all finish 5-2 in conference (1-1 Head to Head) and West Virginia gets a share of the title, then what?
Brian Bennett: Simply put, there's no way Stewart gets fired if the Mountaineers run the table, or even if they make a BCS game out of some complicated tiebreaker scenario. If you're going to have a bad year, I guess this is the year to have it. New 2010 Big East slogan: "Misery loves company."