Welcome to your midweek mailblog, where I attempt to answer your brilliant questions.
Bryan in Cincy writes: I know the Orange Bowl is a big deal and it's obviously the biggest game the BE still has left but enough already about WV! You have two full pages dedicated solely to WV. If you haven't forgotten you have readers from every other BE school here. I doubt I'm the only one getting annoyed at the WV love fest. Just saying.
Andrea Adelson: Wait, the Big East does not only consist of West Virginia? [Scratches head.] ... Kidding aside, I have not forgotten about you guys. But try to understand this week my assignment has been to cover the Orange Bowl -- both West Virginia and Clemson. Regularly scheduled programming will resume Thursday.
Tim in Harrisburg, Pa., writes: Those close to the program sense that Jeff Casteel and as much of his staff as he can get to go with him - are heading to Arizona to partner up with Rich Rod. Am I beating you to this story? What do you feel? Jeff has seen three head coaches at WVU and has to feel that he will not ever be one in Mo'town, and he really deserves a shot at that spot with a decent school...but with this season's defensive squad he will not get the offer he wants so why not go west while he can? Sure he makes a lot of money here, but Rich (Rodriguez) made that happen the first time, and he would make it happen again.
Adelson: Tim, you are not the first to ask this question, only the latest! You do bring up a point that I have not hit on yet. I think Casteel does want to become a head coach, and he probably senses he has to leave in order to do that. Perhaps he does not want to be pegged as a West Virginia lifer because he has been there for so long. I would not be stunned if he left after this game, but he has been mum on his future, deflecting any and all questions on the topic. So it is hard to truly know what will happen because all there is right now is rumor and speculation.
JP in Louisville writes: Andrea, Every year the Big East is trashed, and it seems every year come bowl time, we do well. How many times have people claimed our best team would lose to the SEC's bottom feeders? Cincinnati handled a good Vandy team with a quarterback that hasn't played in months. Why do you feel there is so much hate for the Big East when our accomplishments don't call for it? I am not sure of our bowl record for the past 5 years, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say its pretty respectable. Especially, when compared to the likes of the ACC. Granted, we are not the SEC, but no conference is.
Adelson: You are right, the Big East does have a respectable bowl record -- 40-25 in bowl games since 1998. But there are a few factors that contribute here to the bashing: 1) What have you done for me lately? The Big East has lost three straight BCS games. Those are the games everybody across the nation pays attention to, because they are the ones in the national primetime slot. UConn getting in last year really got feathers ruffled; 2) No dominant team. Being highly competitive top to bottom means the perception is that the league is weak overall.
If you tuned into the blog last week, you know I railed on your very first point. I was outraged that Cincinnati was an underdog to a 6-6 team from the SEC. Because of the perception that the Big East is "weak" and the SEC is "strong," most people think whatever bottom feeder team in the SEC will beat a better team from the Big East. But if past results are any indication, that is not the case. Cincinnati wins this year. Pitt beat Kentucky last season; UConn beat South Carolina in the 2009 season.
Chuck in Louisville asks: Happy New Year, Andrea, Simple question: what's the cutoff date for college athletes to declare for the NFL draft?
Adelson: That would be Jan. 15. I think most of the Big East players who were considering have made their decisions.
RonnyRAGE, FOB, Phoenix, Afghanistan writes: Do you think the Big East should have gone after BYU more? Also what do you think about the conference expanding to 14 teams? Who should they go after?
Adelson: I think the Big East did all it could do to get BYU on board, I really do. Boise State was in favor of the move, and there were some serious negotiations. But I am not going to blame the Big East for the breakdown in negotiations. BYU comes with its own TV network, one of the biggest reasons the school went independent to start. So BYU has its own interests to look after when it comes to that, and the two sides could not work out an arrangement. It's too bad because I think BYU would have been a much more solid addition than San Diego State, given its history and more consistent success. I think the first concern is expanding to 12 teams. Who should they go after? That is a much harder question to answer. I don't think there is anybody else available who will boost the football cred, so it all depends on what the Big East wants -- footprints into major media markets, football-only members, programs that help get basketball boosted back up? I honestly don't think it matters much from a football perspective who is next in line for the Big East. The league got the biggest available program in Boise State, and to me that was the No. 1 objective.