I got the following question in my chat on Wednesday and wanted to answer it but knew I needed more time to think about it than the rapid fire nature of those chats allows:
John (Tampa, FL): If you could create an ultimate Big East team for next season taking a group from the schools (USF - DL, WVU - DB, UCONN - OL, etc.) what would your team look like?
As Barney Stinson would say, challenge accepted. Now that I've had a day to assemble my thoughts, it's time to assemble my team. As John's rules indicated, I can choose an entire position group from each Big East team, and I want to make sure my squad is as cohesive as possible. Here's how I would shape my Big East super team:
Quarterback: West Virginia
I want Geno Smith running my team, plain and simple. I realize there isn't much experienced depth behind him. But how many Big East teams have experienced backup QBs? Hardly any.
Running back: Louisville
This is going to be a controversial pick, but hear me out. I would be using a spread offense, so I would want a couple of quick backs. I also want two proven guys here. While I'd love to have Ray Graham or Isaiah Pead, they don't have much behind them right now. West Virginia has a stable of backs, but none have stood out. USF has potential but no home-run hitters. Rutgers could be a good choice if Savon Huggins is as good as advertised, but who knows? So I'm rolling with the Cardinals' tandem of Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson, both of whom I like to have good years if healthy.
Wide receivers: Rutgers
I've long been obsessed with tall receivers, probably far more so than I should. So that's why I'm going with the Scarlet Knights, who bring me Mark Harrison (6-foot-3), Mohamed Sanu (6-2), Tim Wright (6-4) and Brandon Coleman (6-6), plus tight end D.C. Jefferson (6-6), whom I'd find a way to use in my spread. Your 5-foot-9 cornerbacks should be afraid, very afraid.
Offensive line: Connecticut
The Huskies might not have exactly the right kind of offensive line for my offensive scheme, but they've been so good for so long that this is almost a no-brainer. And I'm hoping UConn offensive line coach Mike Foley comes along in the deal.
Defensive line: Pittsburgh
This is the toughest call on the board, as I believe defensive line is the strongest position in the Big East for 2011. I could have chosen South Florida, which has been producing solid and deep D-lines for years now. But there are no stars -- yet -- on that Bulls line. It was also tough to overlook UConn, which is deep and talented with guys like Jesse Joseph and Kendall Reyes, as well as West Virginia (Bruce Irvin, Julian Miller) and Syracuse (Chandler Jones, Mikhail Marinovich). In the end, I choose Pitt because of the overall depth of this unit. I'm playing a 4-3 on defense, so I'd line up Brandon Lindsey at defensive end, with Myles Caragein and Chas Alecxih at tackles. Then I'd still have Aaron Donald, Bryan Murphy, Tyrone Ezell, Khaynin Mosley-Smith and others to work with. We're coming after your quarterback.
Linebacker: South Florida
I want a fast, athletic defense with linebackers who can really run. And I like the way the Bulls fit my plan here. Returning starters Sam Barrington and DeDe Lattimore can make plays all over the place, and guys like Reshard Cliett and Mike Jeune will get after you.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and Dwayne Gratz isn't too shabby, either. Both have lots of experience in this league as well. Plus, just about every backup who saw time last season returns in 2011. I know I can count on these guys when I call for the blitz.
I'll take the Thomas boys, Phillip and Shamarko. (And I'll have more on Phillip Thomas in an upcoming blog post). These guys have been playing next to each other for two years, are both good tacklers and in my mind are the best safety tandem in the league.
My team is going to be so good that we're not going to need to kick many long field goals, but I'll take Dave Teggart's rocket-launcher of a leg just in case. And if Nick Williams can maintain his ridiculous 35-yard kick return average from last year, my offense is going to have great field position most of the time.
So there's my super team. I'm already booking some hotel rooms for the Orange Bowl for these guys. What do you think?