I realize there is a getting-to-know you process going on between me, the blogger, and you, the reader. So this week and next, I am going to have a few posts up with my personal viewpoints on the league and league matters so you have a better understanding of where I am coming from.
I also want you to know I have taken over the Twitter account from Brian as well, and plan on fielding questions and concerns there on a daily basis. Interacting with those who read this blog is important to me, and something I plan on doing plenty of moving forward. For those interested in a dialogue with me on Twitter, make sure to follow @espn_bigeast. I already asked for suggestions for blog posts you, the fans, want to see, and have gotten great feedback. Keep those suggestions coming.
Today I am going to write a little bit on what I am looking forward to the most in my new assignment. These are all topics that will be explored in the coming months:
Will West Virginia live up to preseason expectations? The addition of Dana Holgorsen has solidified the Mountaineers as the Big East favorite headed into fall camp. Geno Smith and Tavon Austin are set to be stars. Holgorsen has had success everywhere he has been, so the guess is the same will continue in Morgantown.
How will Holgorsen and Bill Stewart work together? The coach-in-waiting situation can be awkward and unpleasant. If there is a bright side, it is that this arrangement is only for one year and not open-ended the way it was with Mack Brown and Bobby Bowden and to some extent Ralph Friedgen. For the record, I am not a huge coach-in-waiting fan. I think if you want to tab a successor, then just go ahead and do it. Before all you West Virginia fans jump on me, this is a stance I had way before the Holgorsen/Stewart situation unfolded.
How will Todd Graham impact Pittsburgh? In my previous role at ESPN, I wrote extensively about Tulsa, so I know what it means to see the offense Graham wants installed going at full throttle. The results can be fun to watch. Some Pittsburgh fans question whether Tino Sunseri can be as effective in the spread. I think he has the potential to do so, though Panthers fans should know it usually takes a few years for this offense to completely click. GJ Kinne, for example, finally got the hang of the Tulsa offense last season in his second year as a starter.
Can Syracuse keep it up? Syracuse fans already know enough about me after I failed to have the Orange in a bowl game late last season. Let us say the hate mail flowed into my inbox. I was a believer at the end of the season. But now the big question is whether Syracuse can sustain the momentum. Plenty of programs have fallen back down after a breakthrough year. What happens to the Orange with some key players and leaders gone?
What does Paul Pasqualoni bring? Connecticut was the most derided BCS team in the history of the BCS last season. But hey, a BCS berth is a BCS berth. So what does Paul Pasqualoni do for an encore in his first season at the helm? How does he handle being a head coach again for the first time since 2004?
Is Louisville a dark horse to win the conference? Folks are high on Charlie Strong in his second year with the Cardinals. He signed a top-rate recruiting class and is coming off a bowl victory. But there are questions at running back and quarterback -- will Teddy Bridgewater win the starting job?
Can Rutgers make it back to a bowl game? Greg Schiano has done a great job making a doormat into a very respectable program. He has talent on offense to be really good, but is the offensive line going to be much improved? Seems like a broken record storyline but one that is quite important for the success of the program. Also, you have got to be excited to watch Savon Huggins.
Can Cincinnati make it back to a bowl? The Bearcats have plenty on offense to be able to score, but will the defense be any better? Sure all 11 starters return, but the defense was not very good last year. Building depth this fall is going to be a huge key if the Bearcats want to make it back to a bowl, let alone the BCS.
Is this the year for USF? I know Brian thought there was potential for the Bulls to win the conference, something they have never done. Coach Skip Holtz is high on B.J. Daniels and his development, and the Bulls could be aided by Darrell Scott, the transfer from Colorado.