- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're a week away from signing day and the premiere of the last season of "Lost." Both will be fun and exciting, but both will probably give us more questions than answers.
As always, though, we've got as many answers as questions here at the ol' mailbag.
Kris from Hollidaysburg, Penn., writes: Your recent articles about the all-decade teams, coaches, etc. have been a fun idea for the offseason. Hopefully you'll think of a few more good ones. Anyway, I couldn't help but notice a few problems with some of your lists, in my honest, biased opinion. I'm wondering why you didn't select Dan Mozes as your pick at center on the Half-Decade Team. He was a consensus All-American, and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center. Eric Wood had no such accomplishments.
Also, I know it's already been asked, but I'm going to be more specific. How in the world could you select Ray Rice (who IS a great back) over Steve Slaton in the top 10 players of the decade? Rice was the only back you picked. ... Rice is fast, but not as fast as Slaton. I'll give it to you that Rice is maybe more durable, and he doesn't have a fumbling problem, but still, there's no way he was BETTER than Slaton.
Brian Bennett: Wood over Mozes at center was a tough pick for me. I admit I might be a little biased since Wood was one of my favorite players to cover, but he also started every single game for four years for the Cardinals, made three All-Big East teams and was a Rimington finalist. I'll remember him as the backbone of that Louisville offense. But I won't argue with anyone who prefers Mozes.
As for Rice vs. Slaton, I don't share your view point. Both played three years, and Rice ran for more than 1,000 yards more than Slaton in his career (4,926 for Rice to 3,923 for Slaton). Plus, Slaton played in an option offense where defenses had to pay as much or more attention to Pat White; he had lots of daylight through which to run. Rice didn't have much help from his passing game much of his career, and he was better at breaking tackles. Plus, Slaton had a reputation for fumbling in big games.
Kevin J. from Tampa writes: I am so sorry to question you half-decade team, but what the heck is Mike Mickens doing over Mike Jenkins? Maybe you got the two Mikes confused? I guess I could understand that, but if not, then what gives? Give me stats, give me reason, give me something. Not only is Jenkins a baller in the NFL, but there is reason he was the first USF player to be drafted in the first round.
Brian Bennett: I understand your question, because Mickens vs. Jenkins at corner was actually the toughest call of my entire half-decade team. Remember, this is only about college and not the pros, so Jenkins' splendid play in the NFL doesn't factor in. Here's the reasoning for picking Mickens: He made the All Big East first or second team all four years of his career, the last two as a first-teamer. Jenkins only made two All Big East teams and one first team (and these teams are picked by the league coaches, not the players).
Mickens finished with 14 career interceptions, tied for third most in Big East history. Jenkins had six. Mickens also played on a Big East championship team. Again, it was extremely close, but I feel like Mickens had a slightly better college career.
Shawn W. from New Albany, Ind., writes: I enjoyed reading your list but if we are looking for the total best players at each position I would have put Kerry Rhodes in at safety and Chris Redman in over Pat White at QB.
Brian Bennett: Uh, nice try, Shawn, but Redman was a senior in 1999. And while Rhodes was a heck of a player, his senior year was 2004, so he wasn't eligible for my half-decade team. As for the all-decade list, Rhodes can't compare with Ed Reed or Sean Taylor at safety.
Chuck K. from East Brunswick, N.J., writes: Enjoyed your look at the next decade of Big East football. You have speculated that Greg Schiano may not last the next decade with Rutgers, moving on to greener pastures, and you may well be right. However, you do agree that Rutgers has a shot at being selected to join the Big Ten, or perhaps even an expanded ACC, in the mega-conference age. In this scenario, you could see Schiano staying at Rutgers long-term, right? Especially if RU joined the Big Ten, switching to Penn State for Schiano would have less luster than if RU stayed in the Big East.
Brian Bennett: It's not so much that I think Schiano is looking to leave Rutgers for a bigger job. It's just that if he stays at Rutgers through 2019, he will have been head coach of the Scarlet Knights for 19 seasons. He's certainly young enough to do it, since he only turns 44 this year. But college football has changed so much, it's hard for me to envision many coaches sticking around at one program for that long any more.
Sean K. from Morgantown writes: How would you feel or how do you think the chances of the Big East picking up Appalachian State to expand the league?
Brian Bennett: I suppose all options should be explored. But the Big East doesn't need to be in the business of picking up FCS teams and hoping they make a quick transition to the FBS. Remember, it took UConn a couple of years to get its footing at this level from Division I-AA before the Big East took in the Huskies. If Appalachian State wants to move up, let it prove itself for a few seasons, perhaps in a smaller conference, before there's any serious talk of Big East entry.