Before I get to this week's mailbag, I want to ask if any West Virginia fans are making the trip to LSU this weekend. If so, I'd like to hear about your tailgating plans and your thoughts about going to Death Valley. Hit me with a note on the mailbag link underneath my picture (or if you're too lazy to move your mouse, here).
Now let's get to some mail:
Brady from Pittsburgh writes: With Pittsburgh facing Miami this week, it got me thinking about the infamous ACC raid in 2002-03. Since then, Virginia Tech has won the ACC and had some great years, but is struggling this season. Miami's problems since leaving the Big East have been well documented, and Boston College seems completely irrelevant to me in football and has lost any regional rival it previously had. So with that all said, if we forget about the big revenue spike from ACC TV contracts for a second, do you think any of those three schools ever regrets moving to the ACC, nearly eight years later? You might point to Big East's terrible start this year and say "no way." But think about it ... if the Big East kept those schools and expanded with its newest members, would that not be a strong, competitive conference in 2010?
Brian Bennett: Those schools probably regret it for a second -- and then the ACC revenue checks come in the mail and they do a little dance. Boston College unquestionably belongs in the Big East. But it's all about money.
Andrew from Old Bridge, N.J., writes: I am so embarrassed. I spent the last few years telling friends from my town who went to Big Ten, ACC, and SEC schools how underrated the Big East is. I brought up our bowl record the last few years and our OOC record. I listed the stud players we had coming back this year in Savage/Lewis/Devine/Baldwin/Daniels/Sands/Sanu/Romeus etc. But this has been the most disappointing season for me. There is no reason my Scarlet Knights should be a third-ranked team in the Sun Belt, much less a BCS conference based on how they are playing. But that's just how bad the conference is playing. How much pressure would you say is on Rutgers, WVU, Pitt (forget Cincy because they look anemic) to win this week to salvage the reputation of the conference?
Brian Bennett: Andrew, don't feel too bad. I pretty much wrote the same things. I'm working to try to scrub all those preseason posts from the Internet. Still, let's not panic too much. The Big East is off to a terrible start, but it is just September. The league could get some wins this week, or it could play well in bowl season. And it's just one year, not a sustained period.
As for pressure, the Big East needs a scalp or two to get any respect for this season. But I think the individual teams are more concerned with their own seasons. If every team loses this week, it can still have a successful season by winning the league and getting to a BCS game.
Rob from New Martinsville, W. Va., writes: I am tired of the Big East bashing going on. Granted, it is much deserved given our out of conference record as a whole. But the Big East is one of 2 BCS conferences to not have lost to an FCS team -- the other being the PAC 10, which had near miss with Washington State's last second heroics against mighty Montana State to edge out a 23-22 win. Minnesota, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Kansas all lost to FCS opponents. You cannot say the same about the Big East. Maybe we dont have a lot of highly ranked teams, but we do have some good teams, with my Mountaineers carrying the torch. Maybe with a beat down in Baton Rouge this week the conference will get back on track in the court of public opinion. Whatcha Think?
Brian Bennett: I like that argument style and will use it the next time I try to pick up a woman: "Now, I know I'm not very good-looking, or rich, or particularly interesting. But at least my breath doesn't smell!" (Are you listening, Rachel Bilson?)
Velden L. from Bristol, Va., writes: I know this is very optimistic ... but if the Mounties go into Baton Rouge and pull off the upset this weekend, could we officially declare them back as a national power? It's been so long since we've been in the Top 10 I can't remember what it was like.
Brian Bennett: You and I both know what the storyline will be if West Virginia wins: that LSU is down and Les Miles is in trouble. I'm not sure if the Mountaineers would get the proper respect for that win that they deserve because of that. But if they keep on winning, sooner or later people will be forced to take notice.
Steven from Louisville writes: With the disappointing start by a lot of the league teams, do you want to change your outlook for Louisville now? As a fan, I had really low expectations for this season, and I still do, but I no longer think Louisville will finish at the bottom of the league. Our defense still may be thin, but they've shown they can stiffen up when needed.
Brian Bennett: I think that for sure, Louisville will play teams tough and can come up with a couple of wins in the league. I'm still convinced that the Cardinals have less talent than any team in the Big East, and their lack of depth will be a problem as the season wears on. But I do like the direction they're headed under Charlie Strong.
Chuck from Philadelphia writes: Brian, if my guess is as good as yours for ranking teams 3-8 in the Big East power rankings, can I get a special guest post on the column?
Brian Bennett: Chuck, if you can actually tell me who the the third- through eighth-best teams are in this league, you should be doing my job full time.