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Big East mailblog

3/2/2012

Time for one final peek into the mailblog before the weekend starts.

Patrick in Chicago writes: Andrea, great article on Ralph David Abernathy IV. Nice to see UC still has good stories written about the athletes that deserve it and not just the bad ones (see history of Xavier brawl, Bob Huggins DUI, Donald Little's career, list goes on.) With the report written about the progression of Brendon Kay and his chances to be starter, how do you see that changing the philosophy of UC's offense? Brendon Kay came in with report of a big arm and little mobility, so I don't see him running the same type of offense as with (Zach) Collaros and (Munchie) Legaux last season.

Andrea Adelson: Thanks, Patrick. Interestingly, Cincinnati is also going to be trying to get Jordan Luallen some reps at receiver to take advantage of his athleticism and versatility, so Kay could very easily make some headway in the competition for starting quarterback. But you are right -- the quarterback position under coach Butch Jones has been predicated on having equal ability to throw and run. The perfect mold would be somebody with Munchie Legaux's legs and Kay's arm. I wonder whether Jones is trying to light a fire under Legaux, who would appear to be the favorite to win the job. Competition makes players better, and giving your players extra motivation never hurts.


Cory Shay in Carnegie, Pa., writes: Andrea, A lot of people have complained that Pitt cannot land the talent level of the SEC schools or the Big Ten. As you have pointed out, Pitt has had a number of players go onto Hall of Fame careers (tied for third-most). Also, how many college programs can claim that they produced, arguably, four players who are the best at their position in the NFL? Currently, Pitt has produced elite players like Larry Fitzgerald at receiver, LeSean McCoy at running back, Darrelle Revis at cornerback, and Andy Lee at punter. Which now leads to a bigger question -- how has Pitt never won an out right Big East title?

Adelson: You have stumbled on one a question that many have wondered. I have to point to one common denominator -- coaching. If there is one thing that can be said about Pitt, both under Walt Harris and Dave Wannstedt, it is that the Panthers have been underachievers. And they became known for losing games they should have won on paper. I disagree with the first part of your assessment. Pitt has brought in Top 25 recruiting classes, or groups that have been very close to making it into the Top 25 recruiting rankings. So that clearly means there has been talent -- especially as evidenced by the players in the NFL. So Pitt's inability to win an outright Big East title has to be a reflection of the coaches' inability to make the most of the talent on the roster.


Eroc from the District writes: Hey Andrea. I just read the "opening practice" post on Cincinnati. Can you shed some light on how you came across the information for Kevin Hyland. This is the first time his name has ever come up as someone in the mix for playing time. If you can be as specific as possible without compromising anyone's confidence, I would really appreciate it.

Adelson: Not a problem. New defensive coordinator John Jancek mentioned Hyland in a recent phone interview. He said Hyland was a "very smart player with high character. He's a young man that I'm excited to have in our room and I'm going to give him an opportunity to show what he can do," Jancek said. "A lot is yet to be determined with Kevin, but nonetheless I'm excited with everything I've seen up to this point." Hyland will be taking reps with the third team.


Jordan in Lakeland writes: I know the Bulls are always considered last when it comes to the current Big East teams who would be pursued by other conferences. My simple question is, why? It can't all be geography is it? Last season was tough, but we still weren't considered true contenders before that. What's the deal?

Adelson: Let's just forget about the results of last season. I don't put much stock in one losing season defining a program. There are various problems for USF. Geography is indeed one -- the SEC and ACC are not adding the Bulls. The next option would be ... the Big 12? We already know who is first on the Big 12 list -- Louisville, which is close enough to the current Big 12 teams, and helps build a bridge to East Coast outpost West Virginia. Next on the list would probably be a team more centrally located to Big 12 schools. I have heard USF come up in speculation for the Big 12, but I can't see the league adding yet another school so far away. West Virginia has had such a storied football and basketball tradition, you can understand why the Mountaineers were added. What value does USF add? Florida markets really mean nothing to the Big 12, because it has Texas locked up. Big 12 expansion has been about expanding the footprint across America. Remember, the Bulls are a young FBS football program with virtually no tradition and an average attendance of 45,984 the past three seasons -- that averages out to more than 20,000 empty seats a game. I don't mean for that to sound harsh, but those are just a few of the reasons I see why USF is not as attractive as other programs.


Jake in Montreal writes: Hey Andrea, I'm a big Louisville fan out in Montreal. From an analyst such as yourself, what can I expect from the team this year? Offense and defense? Also Teddy Bridgewater now in his sophomore year, will he be able to lead?

Adelson: Montreal -- one of my favorite cities! Is the restaurant Holder still open? I ate there twice on my only visit to Montreal! Anyway, to your question, I think Louisville will be one of the favorites to win the Big East in 2012. There are tons of players with experience returning, including Bridgewater. I think the offense will be better, but the two big questions that have to be answered are better offensive line play, and getting a solid rotation going at running back for a more effective ground game. With any Charlie-Strong coached team, you expect the defense to lead the way. Linebacker has to be shored up -- and don't be surprised if the secondary is the best part of this team. I think Bridgewater already showed his ability to lead as a true freshman. Now he has to work on cutting down the mistakes and being an effective game-manager.