Friday, November 16, 2012
Big East mailblog
By Andrea Adelson
Bring me your questions ...
Bearcat Territory writes: Andrea could you please clarify for us whether the highest rated "team" or the highest rated "champion" from the Group of Five will obtain an automatic berth in one of the elite bowls? Respected sports analysts have used both terms inconsistently in their immediate reports.
Andrea Adelson: Yes, I am happy to clarify. This is the wording from the news release announcing the final agreement on the playoff structure: The highest-ranked champion from the five conferences that are not in contract bowls will be guaranteed a spot in a host bowl.
Tim in Durham, N.C., writes: Andrea, I am a very frustrated Pitt fan and I know this is our last year in the Big East, but I have said all along it really needs to be a rebuilding year to prepare for the ACC. That being said, why has it been that three coaches with minutes of game tape have not been able to see what multiple Pitt fans see and that is that Tino Sunseri is not a Division I quarterback? I know that he is not all that is to blame for Pitt's records, but he is not much of a help, either, with his limited leadership ability, inability to bring teams back from behind, and weak/inconsistent arm strength and accuracy. It seems we would have been better suited to play youth and go through growing pains, than not get any experience for next year. Sorry so long!
Adelson: I do understand the frustrations, but have completely disagreed with this line of thinking all season. Why should any team "tank" a season on purpose just for a youth movement? Sunseri is not Collin Klein, but he is in the middle of having his best season for the Panthers. If there was a better option, I can absolutely guarantee Paul Chrsyt would have used him. Chryst has maintained Sunseri gives them the best chance to win every week. There is no way he is starting Sunseri just to hold the team back. Secondly, if I were to point a finger of blame this season, the first might go to the inconsistent defense. Somebody needs to explain how the Panthers let UConn get its offense going. That to me was way more of a problem last week. I do agree that Sunseri has come up small in some of the bigger moments -- (cough, cough, Notre Dame) -- but the playcalling was pretty bad if you ask me. I look forward to hearing what Pitt fans have to say if the struggles continue next season with a redshirt freshman at quarterback.
Friendly Trashtalk in Cincinnati writes: Good call on the Cincy game. Has Rutgers ever won at Nippert? Friday night I'll be watching my DVD of the 2006 blowout (when Rutgers thought they were going to the national championship) in order to prepare myself for Saturday's game!
Adelson: I am sure those DVDs have been burned across New Jersey. Now to answer your question, Rutgers has won in Cincinnati once -- 10-7 in 1987.
RJ in Morristown, N.J., writes: AA, I have to take exception vehemently with your article about Mike Aresco and the "steady Big East" ship. While there is no doubt it was important to bring someone like him in to lead our conference, your conclusions are about as substantiated as some of those found in the Freeh Report (OK, that might be stretching it). So what has he done according to you: 1) Guaranteed Access to future playoff... Well if you consider it a win that we in the Big East have been relegated to being considered "one of the OTHER 5 conferences", can't give him full credit though, he gets equal credit with the commish's of C-USA, the MWC, MAC and Sun Belt 2) Got the Big East on open market of tv negotiations... Or you can flip it to say that ESPN didn't want to offer to large of a deal until they realized how little other networks would be willing to offer, you can judge this as a win when we get a deal on par with the ACC 3) Kept members happy... Ask the most loyal fans and constituents of Rutgers, UConn, and Louisville and they will admit that they are still holding out hope that one of the other power conferences comes calling (basketball schools?, the money isn't the same so they really have no impact) 4) Got divisions squared away...you really think this is an accomplishment? A temporary alignment based on geography putting Temple in the "West"? 5) Kept Big East relevant into the future...this one makes me laugh the most because in all logical thinking, this can't possibly be judged at the present time, we'll only know if this is true 5-10 years from now when Aresco has probably left this job, if he kept the Big East relevant after this mess we find ourselves in. I generally think you do an excellent job at blogging, Andrea, but I'm not sure all of your conclusions can be substantiated by the facts at this point.
Adelson: I appreciate your comments, RJ, and understand your point of view. But here is the thing all Big East fans should remember first and foremost: The Big East was never going to be included among the "power conferences" in the future playoff structure. This was not a decision made by a network, but one made by the commissioners of those respective leagues. So yes, you can say the Big East was "downgraded." But 1. The Big East does not have an automatic tie-in to one of these bowl games in the current structure, so it was not going to magically get one past 2014. 2. Forget about having to share with the MAC, Mountain West, Conference USA and Sun Belt. This should be viewed as a guaranteed spot for the Big East, given the remaining and incoming members. If the Big East champion is not any better than the champs from those four leagues, they do not deserve a spot in a marquee game, anyway. I am not going to judge conference stability on whether fans want to get out. But I believe the phone calls from those in charge of their respective programs looking for a lifeboat have stopped. Now, we might not really be able to judge relevance into the future, but hammering out a deal at least gives the Big East a seat that everyone thought was going to be taken away.
Jay in San Francisco writes: It seems as though Louisville's special teams are a real weak point for the team. The inability of being able to even get touchbacks on a kickoff is giving up tons of yardage. And, don't even get me started on basic punt and kickoff return coverage. What are your thoughts on this? It continues to cost the Cards each week.
Adelson: I will let these stats speak for me. Louisville ranks No. 8 in the Big East in punt return average; No.7 in kickoff returns; No. 8 in punting; and No. 8 in kickoff coverage defense. That includes a Big East-worst five touchbacks -- that is tied for second-worst in the nation.
Mike in Piscataway writes: Hi Andrea, great job as always. Everyone thinks the RU - Ville games is going to be the biggest game of the year; however as a Rutgers fan (since 1998) this week in Cincy is technically our first-round playoff game. If we lose, and then win out, Cincy still has the tiebreaker advantage. If we win, it does not matter if we lose at Pitt the following week, because the last game of the year will then decide our BCS fate. Would you agree?
Adelson: Thanks, Mike. I agree 100 percent. This is an absolute must-win for Rutgers.
AL in St. Louis writes: Andrea, do you think the Big 12 is starting to regret grabbing West Virginia instead of Louisville? It seems like the Cards might be a big player in the new Big East to come!
Adelson: I was wondering when somebody was going to ask me this, but I thought the question would be more along the lines of: "Do you think West Virginia regrets leaving the Big East?" It is going to take more than nine games to start labeling regrets, Al. The way Louisville has played this season -- particularly on defense -- I'm not sure the Cardinals are 9-1 in that league right now.