Happy Friday, everybody. I've been at the mothership in Bristol all week, learning how to become a better blogger. So you should see a marked improvement in my work starting in about, oh, 30 seconds.
It's been a fun and busy week, highlighted by the sight of Hall of Fame baseball legend (and all-world nice guy) Dave Winfield stuffing himself into our Chevy Cobalt for a ride over to ESPN campus. There is also a vicious rumor that I performed a rap song during karaoke at a country-western bar this week; clearly that lie was planted by the Big Ten to further discredit the Big East. Don't believe it for a second.
Despite all the activity, I've always got time to answer your correspondence. So let's get to it.
Chris from Raleigh, N.C., writes: I think I have expansion anxiety. Every day I check to see if the hammer has dropped, beheading the Big East, and relegating my Panthers to permanent mediocrity in a neutered conference. How much longer do I have to live this torture? Is the Big Ten really going to take the whole 12-18 months?
Brian Bennett: Chris, welcome to John Marinatto's world. If nothing else, the Big Ten has succeeded in making itself the complete focus of the offseason, driving interest in that league through the roof. It's really a waiting game for the Big East right now. Big Ten officials are meeting in Chicago next week -- colleague Adam Rittenberg will be covering the event -- and I'm sure expansion will be a hot topic. I still believe we'll know something no later than early this fall, and maybe as early as late summer. But again, the Big Ten is holding all the cards.
Mannie from Tampa writes: You just lost any kind of "expert opinion" credential you may have had. Picking Tom Savage fourth in the Big East is just plain stupid. And, worse saying that both the Pitt QB, and the Conn. are better is even worse! Cinci's QB at least showed some skills last year and I'll give you that one. But, wow, buddy how do I get your job?
Brian Bennett: Well, before you send in your application, Mannie, you need to work on your reading comprehension skills. In my post-spring position rankings item, I clearly stated at the very beginning that it was "a ranking of the entire position group, so while having frontline talent helps, depth matters too." (Yes, I just quoted myself). So I wasn't ranking Savage as the fourth-best quarterback in the Big East. I ranked Rutgers position group as No. 4 in the league, because there's no one behind Savage except Steve Shimko, who does not look ready to win games in the Big East. Depth matters.
David W. from Pittsburgh writes: USF just landed a 6-foot-8 wide receiver who didn't have any other scholarship offers and went to D-2 West Texas two years ago. Needless to say, I'm skeptical. Can you think of any good WRs that were taller than 6'6 or 6'7 in the Big East?
Brian Bennett: Good question, Dave. Wes Lyons just graduated from West Virginia after playing receiver at 6-8, but he was mostly unfulfilled potential with the Mountaineers. Josh Chichester is 6-9 at Louisville and has had some moments but hasn't been consistent. Receivers that tall have mostly been curiosity pieces and the subjects of fascination because of their size. But rare is the receiver who has that height with enough speed and coordination to be a true downfield threat.
Jake from the Oakland Zoo writes: With the recent "pipeline" tourney ESPN released, it got me thinking. PSU is often referred to as Linebacker U, and many people tend to refer to USC as QB U. Well, how about Pitt's claim to Superstar U? Just taking a look down the list, Pitt can lay claim to what is widely considered the best QB ever in Dan Marino, one of the greatest College RB's ever in Tony Dorsett, and Curtis Martin and Craigh Heyward weren't exactly shabby either. We can throw Mike Ditka into the mix as well. Bill Fralic wasn't a bench warmer. Yeah, we haven't even gotten to 1990 yet.
Brian Bennett: The pipeline tournament exercise was a real eye-opener to all the top talent Pitt has produced. Throw in Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis, whose careers are still thriving, and you've really got an impressive roster of former Panther stars.