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Friday mailbag, Part I

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Lot of news this week and a lot of mail, so we'll handle it today in two parts.

Dan from Mine Hill, N.J., writes: First off, I have to reply to Jason from New Brunswick who claimed that Brian Leonard is much more beloved than Ray Rice. He's wrong -- the level of admiration is roughly the same, based on fan reaction at games when their pictures are on the jumbotron. People love Leonard for jump-starting the program, but every Rutgers fan knows that Rice, the best player in RU history, is the reason the team got good. Secondly, having Mike Tranghese as the first face on the conference mountain is a joke. Tranghese has been a terrible commissioner. From the time the football conference started as a "little brother" to basketball, he made one mistake after another. Bringing Miami in was fine, but promoting them to the exclusion of all other teams in the league was a disaster, especially when Miami was sanctioned by the NCAA and another team needed to be the standard-bearer. The league was ill-prepared for the ACC raid, our bargaining tactics for bowl games have been questionable, and the conference simply hasn't had any real direction or mission under his watch. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it will be any better under his successor. You should replace Tranghese's face on Mount Rushmore with Michael Vick, who, at least while he was in college, was "the most electrifying player in the country" and got the Big East back from the brink after the "Big East" rule was passed.

Brian Bennett: You make some fair criticisms of Tranghese, but the fact is there might not be Big East football without him. I'm not sure what he could have done to have prevented the ACC raid. The league could have very easily fallen apart after it, but he kept it together and kept it a BCS conference. Michael Vick was an electrifying player, but he had a short career. And I don't think any league would want him as its face right now given Vick's image problems.


Jim from Pittsburgh writes: How did you overlook Scott McKillop on your list of nobodies? He was at BEST a three-start recruit (and for that matter so was Darrelle Revis).

Brian Bennett: You answered your own question, Jim. If McKillop was a three-star recruit, then he certainly wasn't a nobody. He committed early to Pitt but was drawing interest from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Penn State. My list was about guys who couldn't get sniffs from major programs; McKillop does not fit that description.


Erik from Mishawaka writes: Did you forget about Owen Schmitt on the All-Nobodies offensive team? Or was the fullback position just not important enough?

Brian Bennett: I almost put him on there, and he is a great example of what I was talking about. But I felt like a lot of times, fullbacks aren't especially highly rated as recruits. And it's my team, so I decided to go with a three-wide receiver set. We're running the spread, baby.


Ben from Suwanee, Ga., writes: Brian, if ... and I'm just spiffballing here ... USF was to go undefeated in the regular season and be eligible the BCS national championship game, would their non-conference schedule hurt them? Would they even have a chance to make there in spite of playing Wofford and Charleston Southern?

Brian Bennett: You can absolutely guarantee that the Bulls would get killed for that schedule by critics in the media and from other title contenders. They would have on their side wins over Florida State and Miami in that scenario, but the Big East is probably not going to be strong enough to make up for the two FCS opponents in the computer rankings. It would also depend on who else was undefeated. Of course, this is all just for fun. South Florida should worry about contending for a Big East title before it dreams of going undefeated.


Brian from New Jersey writes: Rutgers is still looking for a nonconference opponent, and other than Maryland, the slate is rather weak. I noticed that Ole Miss has an opening on September 12. Any chance of scheduling them last minute like we did with Fresno State last year? My guess is that Ole Miss will probably want to play in Oxford, rather than play a tough non-conference road game in Piscataway. Ole Miss also has rather weak non-conference schedule, which is typical of SEC teams, especially Ole Miss, who is a sure bet to be a preseason top 15.

Brian Bennett: It could theoretically happen, especially if a certain TV network (cough, cough) brokered the deal. But it seems highly unlikely to me. SEC teams, for the most part, don't go out of their way to toughen up their nonconference schedules, and Rutgers would prefer a home game. It's probably more likely that we'll see the Scarlet Knights go with a second FCS opponent, too.