- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Now that we all are in the holiday spirit, I figured the time was right to give out a few gifts and recognize a few outstanding performances this season.
The gift of a quarterback: UConn, Temple, Pitt, USF. Yes indeed, half the Big East could use an upgrade at the position. Santa is going to be busy.
The Huskies should have been a bowl team with the way they played defense this year, but alas, inconsistent quarterback play remained an issue. While you could argue the run game was an even bigger disappointment, there is no question UConn needs a strong quarterback under center. Could it be Casey Cochran in the fall? Temple switched quarterbacks this year because Chris Coyer struggled. An open competition awaits in the spring between Coyer, Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome.
As for USF, the Bulls scored a combined 22 points in their final three games after B.J. Daniels got hurt. Can Willie Taggart transform Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld into stars or will USF be starting a freshman next season?
The gift of coaching stability: Cincinnati, it is about time you got this one, right? Now we wait and see whether new coach Tommy Tuberville is going to be able to deliver for more than three years.
The parting gift? Somehow, I think Syracuse, Louisville, Rutgers and Pitt are going to end up with a lump of coal in their stockings from the Big East.
I want to take this opportunity to point out three truly inspirational stories in the Big East this season: the return of Ray Graham, Dan Mason and Greg Blair. Graham overcame a torn ACL to post the first 1,000-yard season of his career and a spot on the Big East first team. He was not even 100 percent to start the year and still was one of the best backs in the league.
Mason returned to the starting lineup two years after a devastating knee injury nearly cost him his career. Unfortunately, he got hurt against Temple in October and missed the remainder of the season. Still, seeing him back on the field was triumph enough.
Finally, Blair overcame a knee injury and weight issues to take over as Cincinnati's starting middle linebacker, earning a spot on the Big East first team. He also was named defensive MVP at the Cincinnati team banquet last week. Congratulations to each of these players.