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Friday Big East mailbag

Last week at this time, we heard from a bunch of Cincinnati fans fretting about their program. Guess what, Bearcats? You've got company.

Isaac D. from Pittsburgh writes: I'm a current Pitt student. As you can probably guess I'm very disappointed in my panthers' performance last night against Miami. With all the skipping classes and getting down to the stadium real early, waiting in line, getting demolished in the rush for wristbands, it's a bit strenuous to keep the faith in a underachieving, increasingly injured, and what seems like trouble-making team (off the field). Can we still win the Big East without Greg Romeus? Can we win without last year's performance's from Don Lewis? Are Frank Cignetti and the rest of the staff trying to ruin Jon Baldwin's NFL career before it even starts by not giving him his throws?

Brian Bennett: All legitimate questions. We knew Pitt had some flaws, but it sure seemed like there was enough talent to overcome those problem areas. So far, that's not true. If there's any silver lining, it's not like the Panthers have lost to Bowling Green and Navy. Utah and Miami are probably legitimate Top 20 teams. Pitt can still compete in an underwhelming Big East -- but only if it makes some serious course corrections. There aren't any great offensive linemen sitting on the bench.

I feel your pain, Isaac. I just hope this isn't your senior year.

Jared from New York City writes: I have been a big supporter of Dave Wannstedt since he came to Pitt, but you could argue he has underachieved every year he's been here. Even last year Pitt didn't beat a ranked team, lost to a poor NC State team and lost to the other top Big East teams. (Should we really have been that happy about a win over an unranked NC team?) I hate to say it, but I am tired of being disappointed. Is it time to start looking for a new coach? I know he can recruit, but is he an Xs and Os kind of guy needed for college football?

Brian Bennett: I understand your frustration, but Wannstedt isn't going anywhere for a while. He recently signed an extension, is loved by the administration and has been a very good ambassador for the school. Even with the recent spate of arrests, I don't think you can say he hasn't run a clean, respectable program. Pitt won 10 games last year, was one play away from a BCS game and maybe three plays away from going undefeated; I don't see how you can say they underachieved. This has been a terrible start to 2010, but Pitt is only three games into it.

Austin from The 'Ville writes: As a Big East fan, I couldn't be more disappointed in our supposed best team coming into the season. I have to wonder, did The 'Stache run Dion Lewis into the ground last year? I remember watching that game against Cincy (47 carries plus 5 catches!!) and thinking that he was ruining that kid's career. Man, it's 2010! Throw a pass on 1st down every once in a while!

Brad S. from Pittsburgh writes: After the blowout loss to Miami, do you think Dave Wannstedt and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti are reconsidering Dion Lewis being our starting tailback? Granted, the offensive line was atrocious, but Ray Graham was much more successful than Lewis, and he is making guys miss tackles a lot more than Lewis. Should Lewis take the backseat, or am I jumping the gun here?

Brian Bennett: Pitt is not about to give up on Dion Lewis, that's for sure. But it is odd to see him struggle so much to get on track, even when considering the problems of the offensive line. As you mentioned, Graham has shown a much better ability to make people miss; Lewis seemed to be at his best when he was following blocks, hitting the holes and then bouncing off tackles with a full head of steam. He hasn't been able to generate any steam with the way the line has played. I think you'll see a lot more Graham, but Lewis will still be heavily involved.

Chris from Houston writes: After the Big East loses its automatic birth and is raided by the Big Ten (among others), will we look back on Week 4 of 2010 as the turning point? With Pitt's loss last night, this week is looking more like a nightmare than a moment to shine. Even if Cincinnati and Rutgers win, I don't see either of them getting much love in the polls. If WVU loses (and the odds are they will), I don't foresee another ranked Big East team for at least four weeks...and that would require a 6-0 Rutgers. USF could go 9-1, but they'll have a hard time cracking the top 25 without a win at Miami. This is just sad.

Brian Bennett: The Big East has had a terrible September, no question about it. But it's just one month; the Big East isn't going to lose its BCS bid because of one slow start in one season. Come in from off the ledge.

Bryan from Clarksville, Ind., writes: Outside of West Virginia, who has been the least disappointing team?

Brian Bennett: Interesting question. Based on record, it would be Rutgers at 2-0. But the Scarlet Knight haven't looked good. Syracuse and Louisville have the records most of us thought they would. Maybe it's South Florida. The Bulls lost to Florida as expected but put up a good fight. This could be easier to answer on Monday.

Sean from Cincinnati writes: If you watch any of the three Bearcats games, it's easy to see Butch Jones does not like keeping Zach Collaros in the pocket. It seems to me Jones is trying to force Zach's run game too much and this has proved ineffective. So do you think Coach Jones is using Zach to his full potential or not?

Brian Bennett: If Jones were to keep Collaros in the pocket, the kid might be killed. He's running for his life because the line can't block anybody. Besides, the thing that tantalized everybody so much about Collaros last year was his mobility. And remember what Jones did with Dan LeFevour at Central Michigan. Collaros hasn't played great yet, but he hasn't had a lot of help.

Tyler from Johnstown, Penn., writes: I'm kind of lost as to why Pitt has completely fell off the national radar. The loss to Utah didn't help, but they were underdogs and lost in OT on the road. WVU squeaked one out against Marshall. I think Pitt still has to be the Big East favorite. Your thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Sorry to pick on poor Tyler. But let this be a lesson: Be careful what you email to me a couple of hours before your team plays a big game.