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Friday Big East mailbag

Happy Good Friday. Let's see what's on your mind.

Brian from CT writes: The announcement by UMass of their move to the FBS makes me excited and worried as a UConn fan. I hope it leads to a renewal of our rivalry, but I have to assume our recruiting in Mass will take a hit. Although they'll be in a lesser conference (MAC), the ability to recruit with Gillette Stadium as your home field will definitely sway potential players away from UConn ... just think about our team last year without Jordan Todman. I can't even wrap my head around how bad they would've been! Overall, do you think this is good news for UConn and Northeast football?

Brian Bennett: As I said in my chat on Wednesday, I wouldn't worry too much about the recruiting aspect. UMass might pose more competition for players in the Northeast, but if you can't outrecruit the MAC as a school in a AQ league, you've got much bigger problems. This might have been more of a concern for the Huskies if Randy Edsall were still the coach, since his recruiting philosophy centered around under-the-radar players. But Paul Pasqualoni was hired in large part for his ability to connect with high school coaches and recruit high-caliber players. If that's true, he shouldn't lose out to UMass on many prospects.

UMass-UConn is a natural rivalry, though I don't think the Huskies should accept a home-and-home series. A 2-for-1 is a better deal for them.


Charles S. from Charleston, W.Va., writes: WVU is going to need more than luck to win a national championship. In over 100 years of playing football WVU has not once won the national championship. Is it surprising? Of course not! So at the University of West Virginia are you planting unrealistic expectations in the minds of young student athletes and the fans? Shouldn't the University be placing greater concentration on teaching teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship, building strength of character, and football fundamentals? What's wrong with winning nine games in a season; nothing, especially if the team has worked hard and developed to its capability. I could not discard a coach who won nine games in three straight years, won two bowl games including a major thrashing of Oklahoma.

Brian Bennett: Charles, I don't disagree with you if you want to defend Bill Stewart's record as head coach. On the other hand, I think a program has to shoot for a national title, even if it seems unlikely. If not, why are you playing? It's not like the Big East is rolling in national titles. The last claimed championship by a current member is 1976 by Pitt; that's 35 years of futility if national titles are your only goal. But why not work toward being the best at whatever you do?


Brian from Parts Unknown writes: What WR has the best hands in the BE? I have to go with Stedman Bailey.

Brian Bennett: Bailey is a good choice. I'd throw Pittsburgh's Mike Shanahan into the mix, for sure. These are also some really good hands.


Rob from Princeton, N.J. writes: I wanted to hear your thoughts on Dana Holgorsen's personality since you have met him. He seems to be much "rougher" than Coach Stewart in terms of the things he says. For example, the following quote is surely not something you would ever hear from Coach Stewart: "I don't know who Starks is. Is he still on our team?" This was probably said in jest but surely Brad Starks isn't laughing. How do you see the fans at WVU accepting Coach Holgorsen this year and especially next year when he takes over as head coach?

Brian Bennett: Holgorsen is very much a product of the men at whose feet he studied: Hal Mumme and Mike Leach. Both were unafraid to speak their mind and tweak people, and Holgorsen is the same way. Just refer back to how he casually threw out a barb to Todd Graham earlier this spring. Personally, I find it refreshing, but perhaps that's just because I get sick of all the coaching clich├ęs and mind-numbing news conferences. Holgorsen might offend a few people, and he's certainly going to be different than Stewart. But he won't be boring.