Big East mailbag

Coming at you one day early.

Bigg Edd Gladney in Somerset, N.J., writes: Since Pitt will not let Shell return to the team, would it be a good idea for Rutgers or Temple to make a play for him (since he wants to be on the East Coast, close to his daughter and family)?

Andrea Adelson: Well, it is not that simple. Shell has narrowed his list to West Virginia, Ohio State and Kentucky.

Eric Lewis in Vine Grove, Ky., writes: I was born and raised in New Jersey and am a die hard Rutgers fan even though I live in the heart of the Louisville crazies. I understand all the hype about Louisville football because of the upset of Florida last year, but with their cupcake schedule this year how are they rated so high? Also, why aren't people talking about Rutgers' chances of winning the AAC when they were co-Big East Champs last year?

Brendan in Annandale, N.J., writes: Hi Andrea, I love your post. I know everyone is looking at the American Athletic Conference schedule, and most people are saying that Louisville is going to win and and possibly go undefeated, but why are people underestimating Rutgers? With Gary Nova and Brandon Coleman, they will be way better on offense this year and not to mention they got a new offense coordinator. While on the defensive side of the ball, they have some key returning players, too. Even though they lost Khaseem Greene, they still look very talented. Please help me understand why Rutgers can't beat, or even compete with Louisville. From, a 13-year-old Rutgers fan.

Adelson writes: Since you both ask similar questions I will answer them here. First, why is Louisville rated so high? It really has nothing to do with strength of schedule. If that was the case, Boise State would not be a top-15 team, either. Louisville is rated so high because of the starting talent returning, a Heisman-worthy quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and a rising coach who is now one of the highest paid in the nation. And, yes, that win over Florida certainly helps. As for Rutgers, I think there are a few reasons the Scarlet Knights are not getting much preseason love. First, they finished the season with three bad losses -- one at home to Louisville that cost them a spot in a BCS game. The defense was the best part of that team, and now it goes into this season in rebuilding mode with guys like Greene, Scott Vallone, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan gone. The offense was not great, and so there are those who wonder whether the offense can be the strong point of the team this year, especially early on as the defense finds its footing. I don't think this means Rutgers is incapable of beating Louisville. I just think it means Louisville does not have as many question marks heading into the season.

Bearcat Territory writes: "It would take every single team in a conference like the SEC to have at least two losses for an undefeated AAC team to get voted above them." - Phil Steele. With all due respect to Mr. Steele, he's probably half right. Which two-loss SEC programs would you vote above an undefeated UCF or UC in 2013?

Adelson writes: Tough question to answer. I have no idea what the quality wins are versus what the losses are, and that certainly would factor into any decision. But if I am going to guess based on previous voter patterns, I would say teams like Alabama, Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Georgia would all have an extremely high chance of being ranked ahead of an undefeated team from the American. I think any SEC team starting off in the Top 25 would have an advantage.

Mr. P. in West Chester, Ohio, writes: Andrea: I think it is a shame what the P-5 are doing to the AAC, the Mountain West and the other major football conferences. The beauty of March Madness is everyone has a chance to win the national championship in basketball. The greed of the P-5 is shameful. They only want a few schools to be able to win the national football championship and they want to keep all the money and give a few crumbs to the other schools. Keep up the good job. Tks, Mr. P.

Adelson writes: Well, that is how the old system worked with the Big East as part of the power six. Those six conferences made the lion's share of the money off the BCS and the Mountain West and all the rest got scraps. Undefeated Boise State and TCU were locked out of the national championship. And even then, I seem to recall an undefeated Cincinnati team did not get a shot at the national championship, either. At least if a school from the American or one of these other conferences finishes in the top 4, they get a chance in the playoff.

Ken in Connecticut, writes: AA, USA Today ranked UConn No. 92 in the preseason rankings. I have no problem with the ranking, because preseason rankings mean nothing. But what the author pointed out, which was very concerning, was that he wasn't sure that Coach Paul Pasqualoni would let the new OC (T.J. Weist) open up the attack, instead keeping with the vanilla, ineffective offense we saw last year. It has already been pointed out somewhere that HCPP was keeping the terminology the same as last year. These two tidbits seem to say he was forced to hire a new OC in the offseason to keep his job, but the new Offensive coordinator is OC in name only. Your thoughts?

Adelson: The author may have doubts about whether Pasqualoni will allow Weist to open things up. But the reason Weist was hired was to, in fact, open up the offense and work on the passing game. I had a chance to speak with Weist during spring practice. While there is no question the Huskies are going to continue to emphasize the run, they worked plenty on the downfield passing game. Weist knows he has got to get this going for UConn to have any shot at being better on offense, and I'm sure Pasqualoni knows it, too. His job is on the line, after all.