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Friday Big East mailbag

1/7/2011

Steel yourselves. Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl will be the final Big East football game until next September. It will be a long, hard nine months.

In the meantime, there's plenty to talk about.

Chris from Wallingford, Conn., writes: K.C. Keeler, the head ball coach at the University of Delaware has built a winner there, and his team is in the FCS national championship, which will be played [Friday night]. What are the chances that UConn would be able to convince this coach to come to Connecticut? Let's also remember that Keeler's current salary is around 300K, and UConn could afford to give him about $1-to$ 1.5 million. Even though Keeler is a UD alum, we all know how convincing money can be.

Brian Bennett: Even if Delaware is Keeler's -- ahem -- dream job, I can't imagine he'd pass on the chance to coach UConn. Huskies fans might want to watch the FCS title game to get a glimpse of him.


Doak from Orono, Maine, writes: What do you think of the rumor about Phil Fulmer interested in UConn? Valid?

Brian Bennett: I'm sure Fulmer is interested, just as he has been in just about every job opening the past few years. The interest should be one-sided. Fulmer and UConn are not a good match in any way. I think the Huskies need somebody who understands and has ties in the Northeast.


Kevin R. from Arlington, Va., writes: Bruce Feldman wrote in his blog pondering how Michigan and the Big East would be different if Greg Schiano had taken the job. He states that UM offered Schiano the job first, but declined, at which point RichRod jumped at it. Feldman then claims that Schiano immediately regretted his decision. Is Schiano still seriously committed to Rutgers? We've had a down year, but I still believe he is the coach to lead the Knights. This story makes me feel like he has his sights set on greener pastures, when all along I thought that RU was his "dream job."

Brian Bennett: Well, at this point, people aren't exactly beating down Schiano's door to hire him. His star has dimmed considerably the past couple of years. You can't knock him for being interested in Michigan, which remains one of the blue-chip jobs in college football despite the recent struggles. I think we have seen that any coach can leave at any time in this league, and that even the ones who want to stay at a school for a long time -- Dave Wannstedt, Bill Stewart -- don't have any guarantees. Don't get too attached to any one coach.


Brad from Charleston, W. Va., writes: Let me start by telling you that I have bad allergies. Also, those aren't tear stains on my e-mail because BE football is over for the season. I'm outside and a couple of raindrops fell on my iPad. Anyway, I was wondering which teams you felt were in the best and worst recruiting positions as we head into the new year. My gut tells me that Doug Marrone has to be in a great position considering the season and bowl win paired with the 'Cuse tradition. Charlie Strong doesn't seem that bad off, either. On the other side of the coin, I see Pitt in its worst free fall since the inception of the program. UConn will probably take a hit because of the sudden move by Edsall, but I think that then will be able to find somebody (may be even RichRod) to solve that problem pretty quickly.Well, there's my fairly uneducated opinion. What about yours?

Brian Bennett: I'm not crying either, Brad, I've just been cutting some onions. I'm making a lasagna. For one. Anyway, I think your evaluation is pretty good. Pitt doesn't even have a coach or a staff to recruit right now, so this class is currently a disaster. UConn is trying to hold onto recruits without knowing what kind of system the next coach will run, which is also tough. Bowl success can help recruiting, but even teams that had bad years like Cincinnati and Rutgers can use that to sell immediate playing time.


Marc from Alexandria, Va., writes: Do you believe there was a mandate at the end of the regular season to prop up UConn and Randy "Dream Job" Edsall? UConn limps forward ahead of the rest of the cripples to take the BE crown. Suddenly and with no logical reasoning behind it we find them at the bottom of the top 25. Even more insulting Charlie Strong is forced to share the CoTY award with Edsall. We talk all year about how they underachieve and now we have to believe he had just a good of a year as Strong or better than Marrone with what they did. How can this be nothing more than people saying "hmmmm well this is embarrassing. Better tidy this situation up a bit?"

Brian Bennett: I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but you're really reaching on this one, Marc.


Dennis L. from Kirbyville, Texas, writes: Please tell me that Pittsburgh will not have any desire to pick up Rich Rodriguez as a coach. His leaving WVU was a backstab, and it only proved terrible in Michigan. The last thing Pitt needs is a coach with a personal agenda. Who are some other viable options (new and fresh) faces for the Panthers to get behind?

Brian Bennett: Pitt appears to have no interest in Rodriguez, as I figured would happen. But the Panthers should be. I still think he can coach and can win big in the Big East. Is he a saint? No, but how many coaches are? He runs a fun offense, knows the area and would be a thorn in the side of Pitt's main rival. Anyway, it looks as if Penn State's Tom Bradley is still the leader, with Tulsa's Todd Graham still in consideration. I thought Pitt should make a serious run at Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Wisconsin's Paul Chryst, but those don't look like strong possibilities at the moment.


Ed A. from Nashville writes: As a former Louisvillian, UofL grad & sports info. student asst. and current season ticket holder, I was pulling for Arkansas and felt kinda deflated after the final sequence of events. I have no animosity toward Bobby Petrino or John L. Smith. Petrino isn't very cuddly but he did great work at UofL and I've always liked John L. Neither gets a lot of style points for the way they left, but I live in the real world and don't begrudge anyone for wanting a new challenge or taking a job that they think is a step above the one they have. ... If he continues to be successful, will be interesting to see if Charlie Strong is the one who finally decides to make it his destination job.

Brian Bennett: I find this interesting, because at some point just about every fan base in the Big East might have to deal with this issue. Think about the poorly handled exits of Rodriguez at West Virginia, Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and now Edsall at UConn. The fact is that most coaching departures are not smooth and clean, and most guys who are highly successful at Big East schools are going to leave for what they perceive to be better jobs. There will always be hurt feelings, but I think time should heal those wounds and fans should appreciate the good times. It's better to have loved and lost, after all.


John from McKinney, Texas, writes: This BBVA Compass Bowl or whatever it is called ... I think a basketball court should be laid out at midfield and just let the basketball teams play each other instead. It would improve ESPN's ratings.

Brian Bennett: And there would be more people in the stands, that's for sure.


Matt from Tampa writes: I'm not hearing much about Mark Snyder being a candidate anywhere, does that mean he's likely to stay at least another year?

Brian Bennett: I talked to the South Florida defensive coordinator before the Bulls played their bowl, and he said he was happy in Tampa. I think he likes working for Skip Holtz. I'm surprised that he hasn't been mentioned as a candidate at other places, because he did a great job with that defense this year. One more season like that, and I think he'll be a hot name again.


Marc P from East Brunswick, N.J., writes: Tired of hearing about the Big Least, at least we have the Big 10 to take some shots at in the meantime. My question is on Rutgers -- does Schiano get a pass given the tragedy of this year? And do you think that was the major impact this year or is this just a downward spiral for the upcoming years? I shiver at the thought of the Scarlet Knights facing a team like TCU.

Brian Bennett: If by pass you mean he's not getting fired or placed on the hot seat, then certainly. He's earned enough goodwill at Rutgers to have one bad year. The Eric LeGrand injury (I'm going to stop calling it a tragedy since he's making progress; let's be optimistic here) definitely took its toll, but this team was going nowhere with its offensive ineptitude. I like the hiring of Frank Cignetti and still think this team is young and talented enough to compete for the Big East in the next two years. If not, then the heat will start to rise on Schiano.


Sean from Cincy writes: Is it too early for Bearcat fans to want Coach Butch Jones out?

Brian Bennett: Absolutely too early. He's had one year. Have some patience.


Neil from Colchester, Conn., writes: why do you hate Uconn so bad people have to drag stuff out of you to say good things about Uconn im tired of readding your blog i thinks its time for you to move on plz

Brian Bennett: I've got no problems with UConn. Which is more than I can say for your grammar, Neil.