Friday Big East mailbag

Thanks for all the get-well wishes. I was struggling with a fever the past two days but am feeling quite chipper now. So I will happily open the Friday mailbag.

Joe from Charlestown, Mass., writes: Brian, why is it that every BCS conference has released its conference schedule for next season other than the two weakest conferences, the Big East and ACC? Doesn't this affect marketing and fan travel among other things that the Big East get called out on? Maybe fans would travel better if the league gave them advance time to plan trips and buy flights at cheap prices in advance?

Brian Bennett: The Big East schedule should be out next month. It's a little complicated because two teams (Pittsburgh and South Florida) play in NFL stadiums, and the league needs to wait and find out availability on those. You should still know several months in advance where the games will be held.

Scott S. from Piscataway, N.J., writes: Who do you see starting at QB for Rutgers next season. Chas Dodd, or Gary Nova, the new kid from Don Bosco?

Brian Bennett: If Nova were to start, that would be three straight years that the Scarlet Knights have started a true freshman at quarterback. That's hard to fathom. Dodd has a major edge right now and I would expect him to start.

Larry K. from Auburndale, Fla., writes: Enjoy your blog and generally agree with your observations, but I strongly disagree with your take on Robert Burton at UConn. The guy obviously wasn't giving UConn anything -- he was buying strokes for his ego, playing NFL owner on the cheap. UConn should find a way to pay him off and bar him from all UConn athletic facilities. For life. He is no friend of the university or of the program.

Brian Bennett: I'd say $7 million is giving UConn something. For sure, Burton has come off looking like a fool in this whole process and his letter was completely absurd. All I was saying is that athletic directors have to somehow find ways to make these guys feel loved so they'll keep pouring in the money. But they can't be held hostage to them, either.

Ben C. from West Hartford, Conn., writes: Burton is a cotton-headed ninny-muggins.

Brian Bennett: Sounds like somebody needs to sing a Christmas carol!

Daniel from Wheeling, W.Va., writes: I know you've been bombarded with expansion questions lately, but I had a question concerning scheduling. If the Big East goes to 10 teams, won't that hurt their nonconference scheduling? Most teams seemed to pride themselves on scheduling big-name opponents with the chance to have five nonconference games, but now it seems if they go to nine conference games they will only schedule one FCS team, a non-AQ and maybe one game against an AQ team. I think that hurts the Big East more than just staying at nine teams.

Brian Bennett: Bombarded with expansion questions? At the Big East blog? Never! Well, it remains to be seen whether the Big East will go to a full nine-game schedule or just play eight and maybe hold a championship game. But finding nonconference opponents has become more and more difficult of late, especially when Big East teams have to play five right now. If there were only three nonconference games, I think it's a given that one would come against an FCS opponent. I would hope schools would then play two quality opponents for the other two slots, but the need to get as many home games as possible could prevent that. Still, the overall schedule would be better, since there would be two extra conference games than what we have now.

Coty P. from Beaver, W.Va., writes: Do you think anybody from the Big East has the slightest chance to win a Heisman Trophy in the next few years? Maybe a Geno Smith?

Brian Bennett: Colleague Bruce Feldman has already named Smith a darkhorse Heisman candidate. And given the numbers put up by quarterbacks in Dana Holgorsen's system in the past, that makes sense. It's still going to be a major uphill climb, because the Heisman has become difficult for anyone not on an undefeated or top-ranked team to win. So a Big East player would likely have to put up huge numbers and have his team in the national title hunt.

Ryan from Orlando, Fla., writes: Who are your top five most successful NFL players that have come out of the Big East?

Brian Bennett: That's a very difficult question. I'll go with the caveat that only players who actually played in Big East conference games, not just at current Big East schools, are eligible. My stab at it would look something like this: Donovan McNabb (Syracuse), Ray Lewis (Miami), Ed Reed (Miami), Larry Fitzgerald (Pitt) and Dwight Freeney (Syracuse). Of course, that's leaving off guys like Darrelle Revis (Pitt), Andre Johnson (Miami), Edgerrin James (Miami), Marvin Harrison (Syracuse), Warren Sapp (Miami) and Curtis Martin (Pitt). You could have quite a debate over this.