Now I bring to you the final mailblog of the week. Consider this my final gift to you before Santa arrives. Ho-ho-ho!
One correction before I begin -- Apologies to the folks at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl for saying the game was in Nashville. It is in the fine city of Memphis, where I have always wanted to wear my blue suede shoes.
Aaron H. writes: First, just wanted to say that you are doing a great job with the blog and I always learn something new every time I read. As a Rutgers fan, the hiring of Paul Chryst scares me for Rutgers' BE hopes next year. I had never heard of the guy until I watched the ESPN special of Wisconsin (following them through summer training camp) and just the way he came across was impressive (espcially the handling of the new quarterback). Something that jumped off to me in watching the special was how he adpated his offensive gameplan to best suit the quarterback's strengths (something I do not think Todd Graham did). I have always felt like a great coach is a man who could identify what great things his team can do and make sure they do those things great.
Michael S. in Monument, Colo., writes: Andrea, great column! I was so disappointed with the Graham era, if you can call 11 months an era. Although I have very little faith in any Steve Pederson decision, Coach Chryst seems to be a very good hire. I thought your analysis of the offensive woes and issues with picking up Graham's scheme were dead on. Tino looked terrible this year and I always had the feeling a lot of it wasn't his fault. Thanks for the well written piece!!
Andrea Adelson: Thank you, gentlemen, for your comments. I really do think Pitt fans should be excited about this hire. Aaron, the column that Michael mentions also shares your thoughts on Chryst being able to adapt his scheme around his personnel. Graham is not the only coach who has failed to tailor what he does to his players. So many have stubbornly tried to run their scheme with mismatched players, and failed. I mentioned the way Russell Wilson improved himself as a quarterback on his deep throws in his one season under Chryst. I also touched on Wisconsin becoming a -- shock of all shocks! -- team that could pass at a prolific rate. That to me is proof of good coaching -- though Chryst demurred when I mentioned all that during our interview Thursday. My question to him was a simple one. I asked whether the way Wilson played is proof that he can make Tino Sunseri better. He laughed and said he was not the one throwing the football. But still, fans should note what Wisconsin has done on offense each season, and the different personnel Chryst has worked with and improved. Even still, Aaron, I think Rutgers will be picked to finish higher than Pitt in the 2012 preseason poll.
HokieHunter in DC writes: Andrea ,Happy holidays... I have two questions I'm really hoping you can answer - 1. Do you think the ACC is going to be kicking itself 3 or 4 years from now for not taking WVU? Look at the facts -- WVU's biggest rivals, in order: VT, Pitt, Cuse, UMD. How can you not want to have such great rivalries as VT/WVU and Pitt/WVU in your conference. Not to mention they aren't improving their football product with the additions. I know its about TV money, but I could sell a WVU/VT or WVU/Pitt game to anyone I know (non-WVU fans included) but I sure as heck can't sell a UConn football game vs anyone to anyone I know. 2. How stupid are the BCS bowl folks? Why is the Orange Bowl being played in the middle of the week when employees have already gone back to work. If attendance is bad this year its because people have jobs and have to go to those jobs. The big bowl games should, without fail, always be on the 1st or 31st. Thanks!
Adelson: From my understanding, West Virginia has never been a real candidate to join the ACC. Let's just say the current member schools do not feel as if they have much in common with West Virginia. The ACC folks believe Pitt and Syracuse expand the footprint and are a better match in other ways as well. So I'm not sure the Mountaineers were ever a real option. Those rivalries are great, but rivalries have gotten stomped during realignment. That is one of the hardest truths in this whole process. 2. TV has a lot to do with when these game are played, so don't lay the blame at the Orange Bowl. I for one have never been a fan of spreading these games out and making the national championship game in the second week of January. I am more of the tradition of getting all your games on Jan. 1.
John Michaek in Jackson, Tenn., writes: Look, You obviously haven't watched Vandy football. They are playing in the SEC. Zac Stacy has ruched for 1,136 yards. Vandy should have beat Arkansas, UGA, UF,and UT. If you are going to speak ignorantly about something you have no clue about, I will just have to state facts to you. James Franklin has turned that program around and Vandy is obviously the better team. Big East fan should be outraged? Please.
Adelson: I agree, James Franklin has done a terrific job in his first year. I have been really impressed. But one of your facts consists of what Vandy should have done this year? I'm sorry, last I checked close losses = losses. No bonus points. But if you want to deal in facts, I can play that game.
Cincinnati run defense, No. 6 in the nation (93.7 ypg)
Cincinnati tackles for loss, No. 1 in the nation (106.5)
Cincinnati sacks, No. 1 in the nation (43).
Defensive tackle Derek Wolfe, Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year
Running back Isaiah Pead, Big East Offensive Player of the Year (1,110 yards)
ACTUAL victories over bowl teams: NC State, Louisville, Pittsburgh. Vanderbilt: Wake Forest.
Maybe you haven't watched much of Cincinnati?