Big East mailbag

February, 22, 2011
2/22/11
1:30
PM ET
So, did everybody have a good Presidents Day? I celebrated by watching "All the President's Men" and "Dead Presidents" and singing "The Mediocre Presidents" song from "The Simpsons" ("There's William Henry Harrison -- 'I died in 30 days!'").

Not every day can be such a festive holiday. But cheer up. Tuesday means it's mailbag time.

Daniel C. from Bel Air, Md., writes: I read the interview with Dana Holgorsen, and while it's good that Coach Holgorsen is remaining unbiased toward the players, wouldn't it be nice for him to show some spark about studs like Tavon and Geno? What's up with that?

Brian Bennett: I just think, after talking to him and reading many other interviews with him, that's just Holgorsen's personality. He's a laid-back dude. It's not that he's not excited about Geno Smith or Tavon Austin, he just doesn't get worked up talking about things. Check out Bruce Feldman's piece on Holgorsen at the One-Back Clinic, Insider and how he casually referred to Justin Blackmon as just "No. 81." This guy doesn't seem to sweat the small stuff.


Rickey L. from Lehigh Acres, Fla., writes: How much longer do we have to wait for the Big East schedule to come out? I work overnights and need to start planning my excuses for calling out sick for those weeknight games.

Brian Bennett: I've been told the schedule should be finished by the end of this week and should be released by early next week at the latest. So start getting those excuses ready.


Kevin from Mahwah, N.J., writes: Brian, which Big East team do you see as most likely not to live up to its fans' expectations this coming year? Each has potential pifalls: 1) Lousville/Cuse: Fans probably expect resurgance to continue and take the next step forward, but both teams were senior heavy. 2) WVU: Fans expect to compete (or win) Big East every year, but coaching turmoil and loss of entire defense to graduation. 3) Pitt: Not sure of expectations, but they to me seem to be biggest mystery. 4) UConn: Huge questions at QB, RB, and WR coming off Big East championship. 5) Rutgers: Expectation of return to 7-9 wins, but can they do with their offensive line? 6) South Florida: Seem to be trendy pick as favorite next year, but lose a good amount of seniors, QB controversy, and lack of proven offsenive play makers. 7) Cincy: Great offense; do fans expect return to dominance?

Brian Bennett: Kevin, if I knew for sure, I'd go to Vegas and bet the under on that team's projected wins. But when considering this question, I looked at which teams' fans probably have high expectations that might not be met, not just those who may only be expecting a bowl game and hoping for more. And the team that sticks out to me is Connecticut. I'm not saying the Huskies won't be good in 2011, but their fans' expectations have most likely been raised by a BCS game appearance. And with a new coach, two new coordinators and the questions you mentioned at the offensive skill positions, I can easily see the Huskies suffering a drop-off. (Let's be honest, too; UConn wasn't exactly dominant last season and had a lot of things go its way in winning the Big East).


Davemari from DC writes: Why do you constantly ignore the fact that the Huskies hired the defensive coordinator from the Dallas Cowboys and refer to him as the Syracuse coach from 2004? If Michigan or USC had hired the DC of the Cowboys, that's all we would hear about.

Brian Bennett: Well, in case you hadn't noticed, this is a Big East blog, so Pasqualoni's longstanding ties to Syracuse -- the place from which he's best known -- are interesting to people around here. I'm certainly not discounting his NFL experience and think it will benefit him and the Huskies. But I think it would be more accurate to describe him as the former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, which he was for two seasons. He was not promoted to defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys until November after Wade Phillips got fired.


Pete from New Brunswick, N.J., writes: It's no secret that Big East fan bases just don't compare to most of the big-time programs, and I've always argued that part of the reason for this is the fact that many Big East teams compete for fans with local pro teams that programs in say, Tuscaloosa, don't have to worry about. Most people seem to be dreading the potential NFL lockout, but as a Rutgers fan I find myself praying for it in hopes that a lack of pro football in New York and Philadelphia will leave the people of New Jersey with nowhere to turn but the college game. Is my fantasy for just one season of big time college football atmospheres for schools like Rutgers, Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn realistic?

Brian Bennett: If there's no pro football in 2011, then hungry NFL fans might pay more attention to the college game and even buy more tickets. The teams that would seem to benefit the most would be those in pro markets like Pitt, USF, Cincinnati and Rutgers, and UConn to a lesser extent. That could help the atmospheres, but for the most part a lot of Big East stadiums aren't half empty -- they're just not very big to begin with. The biggest boost to those programs would likely be in exposure through media and TV ratings.


Alex from Orlando, Fla., writes: Do you really think that it is smart for the Big East to get Villanova in football? It just seems like a decision that could send them away from the BCS ranks with a terrible team joining the conference and having only one dominant football team in TCU. What do you think?

Brian Bennett: I'm guessing from your hometown that you might have another, local team in mind, Alex. I think I've made my thoughts pretty clear on this subject numerous times. I'll just say now that adding Villanova wouldn't really do anything to hurt Big East football unless the Wildcats were truly uncompetitive. And I would expect them to do things the right way and field a solid program if they make the jump.


Jim from Cypress, Calif., writes: I recently read about the Auburn tree poisoning case. What would be the equivalent in the Big East?

Brian Bennett: I racked my brain on this one and couldn't really come up with anything comparable. It would have to be a campus landmark that is closely associated with football that someone could ruin. And it the fiendish plot would have to be cooked up by a rival. Anybody got any suggestions?

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