Looks like I've got lots of mail. Let's start with some feedback on Cincinnati.
Ron in Harrison, Ohio, writes: Andrea, excellent article on Cincinnati this week about the lack of national respect. The continued lack of attention is frustrating. No reasonable fan believes this is a Top 5 program, but it has been most decidedly a Top 20 program the last five years. Yes, there are advantages for being under the radar, however those are greatly overshadowed by the lack of recognition, especially in recruiting. In 2009, if you objectively look at UC's resume and Texas' resume, they were pretty much the same. The biggest reason Texas was in the NC game was because they were ranked preseason, while UC was not (even though they were coming off a BCS appearance and returning their entire offense). I don't necessarily believe UC was a better team that year, but rather just pointing out that these rankings do have an influence on these types of decisions. When the playoff system starts, this importance may even be heightened since only four teams are picked. What if there are five or six 1-loss teams for only four slots? It is naive to think that name recognition won't play a role there. Anyhow, thanks for a great article.
Jordan in Galveston, Texas, writes: AA--I love my Bearcats more than anyone, but why is no one saying what I'm sure all the writers at ESPN know: the reason that UC gets no love, especially preseason, is that we have zero, yes zero, marquee non-Big East wins. Since joining the Big East, UC has the following records against perennial football powers: 0-1 vs. Ohio State; 0-2 vs. Oklahoma; 0-1 vs. Florida; 0-1 vs. Tennessee; 1-2 vs. Virginia Tech; 0-1 vs. Penn State. My 'Cats are 3-0 vs. Oregon State and Illinois but they aren't really marquee wins. So just say what we're all thinking. Win a BCS bowl against a big team and everything changes. Simple as that.
Andrea Adelson: Thank you all for the terrific feedback. There were many other notes in the mailbag on that column, but these two best represented your sentiment. Jordan brings up good points -- winning a BCS game would help a lot. BUT, let us just take a look at a team like Virginia Tech. Tell me a marquee nonconference win that program has had in the last five years. Nebraska? This is a team that has fallen flat on its face in BCS games, but is a preseason Top 25 mainstay. I truly believe you have to put in more than five years to get people to accept you as a legitimate contender. That is why the Hokies are now a part of the Top 25 "establishment." As for Ron, I also believe name recognition will impact future playoff selections and am a firm supporter of having no rankings until October, the way the BCS does it. Preseason rankings do have an impact on how some of these teams end up.
Eric in Dublin, Ohio, writes: Please explain to me how (George) DeLeone at UConn is not on the hot seat. Year 2 or not, he was brought in as an offensive guy, and after the first year couldn't move the ball. He takes over for an offensive line that was great in the past but was weak that first year promising to fix it and it looks even worse since. If Coach Pasqualoni wants to keep his job for more then three years, he better expect more out of his offensive guru. If not, let me be the first to overreact and ask that Coach (Don) Brown take over.
Andrea Adelson: I agree with you -- there should be serious questions asked of DeLeone and his job performance. This is a team that returned a 1,000-yard running back and a quarterback with junior college starting experience, who was pretty heavily recruited out of high school as well. But UConn looks worse than last year. Scoring is down nearly 5 points a game; total offense is nearly the same (313 last year; 310 this year); and rushing offense is down 16 yards per game. In fact, UConn is averaging 102.2 yards rushing per game -- en route to its worst mark as an full-time FBS team. The worst? Set last year, at 118.5. So that means under DeLeone, UConn would have its two worst rushing seasons since 2002. That is a problem.
Manan in East Brunswick, N.J., writes: Who's on bigger upset alert: Louisville at Pitt or Rutgers at home against Syracuse? Both underdogs are good teams when they actually show up.
Adelson: I think Louisville. The Panthers have dominated the series of late and are capable of controlling the clock if their run game is working. Louisville can get leaps better on defense as well.
Rich in WH, Conn., writes: Hello. Appreciate the coverage. I have a question....Is it wrong that as a UConn fan I root against UConn when they play Cincy and Louisville, just for the sake of the conference? Big picture, strong Big East will make for stronger programs, including UConn? If UConn beats either or both, it would tarnish the entire league and do little for UConn's season. I mean, it seems to be a lost season and at this point. Signed, Seriously Conflicted.
Adelson: A lost season why? UConn is only 0-1 in conference. Wins over Louisville and Cincinnati would go a long way toward winning the Big East, right? I don't see how any fan roots against his own team for the good of the Big East. Buck up, Rich, and just root for the Huskies to run the table!
Andrew in Houston writes: Hello Andrea, I don't normally write columnists but I think your Big East bias is just far too blatant to not be addressed by someone who understands reality. I just read your article about how Geno Smith might not have the same success against the Big East as he's having against the Big 12. First of all, you were right about one thing. He probably wouldn't be a Heisman candidate because people wouldn't take his level of competition seriously. The Big East is a mid-major disguised as a major conference. Look at Rutgers, who I know as a Big East lackey you are so proud of...beat Arkansas 35-26 in a game that was a struggle and Arkansas put up huge numbers in the passing game. In the games before and after Rutgers, Arkansas was outscored 108-10. Are you seriously talking about Big East defenses? Look, everyone knows the Big 12 isn't a conference built on defense but the talent level IN EVERY FACET OF THE GAME is better in the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC is better than in the Big East. I don't quite understand how you have a serious job as a sports reporter. It seems like ESPN will just hire anyone these days and let them talk complete unfounded rubbish and pretend it's journalism. Maybe you should actually watch some football before you write another column.
Adelson: Andrew, how is this for unfounded rubbish? West Virginia scored more than 45 points ... zero times in seven Big East games last year, averaging 31 points per league contest. In two Big 12 games, the Mountaineers have gone over 45 both times to average 59 points per league game. Four different Big East players had multiple sacks on Smith last year, including current Cincinnati defensive end Walter Stewart, who leads all players last year AND this year with 2.5 sacks on Smith.
Oh, and one more thing. The Big East had five defensive players drafted before any defensive player from the Big 12 was taken this past April. Two of those players were first-round picks. Yeah. The NFL knows nothing about football, just like me!