Welcome to your midweek mailblog. Let's take a peek inside:
Rob in Morgantown, W.Va., writes: Here's a hypothetical question. Say WVU is forced to stay in the Big East next season, runs the table and is headed to the national championship game for the first time since 1988. Would the second-place Big East team also get a bid to a BCS bowl to fill the Big East slot, or would they need to have a one or two loss season? Hey the ACC got two bids so why not the Big East?
Adelson: I love hypotheticals in the offseason! I think you answered your own question here. If West Virginia is forced to stay in the Big East and runs the table, then the Mountaineers would be representing the Big East in the BCS. Future affiliation would mean nothing in this case. Just like Nebraska represented the Big 12 in 2010, even with its plans to join the Big Ten in 2011. The only way a second Big East team gets picked for the Big East is if it is in the eligible pool of candidates. That means a Top 14 finish in the BCS standings, having at least nine wins and getting picked ahead of eligible at-large candidates from conferences like the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. I am not sure I see that happening.
Colin in Aldie, Va., writes: Andrea - Using the assumption that the way-too-early 2012 preseason rankings are within a spot or two of how the actual preseason rankings will appear (meaning WVU is Top 10), how much do you think WVU's placement in the B12 or Big East has an impact on its title hopes? Lot's of "what if" scenarios can be done of course, but let's say we have one loss in the B12 - would that carry more weight than going undefeated playing in the BE?
Adelson: Great question, Colin. I think it is safe to say that West Virginia has an easier road to an undefeated season playing a Big East schedule. But undefeated seasons in the Big East do not guarantee a place in the national championship game if there are multiple undefeated teams. I think it probably is too early to say whether a one-loss team from the Big 12 ranks higher than an undefeated team from the Big East. A lot really depends on preseason ranking, and the perception of the quality of schedule. Going back to 2007, for example, 11-2 Oklahoma finished No. 4 in the final BCS standings, while 10-2 West Virginia was No. 9. But in 2009, undefeated Cincinnati was ahead of a one-loss Florida team in the final BCS standings. There really is no way to predict. But you have to think an undefeated team like West Virginia out of the Big East -- with all the preseason hype it will get and a nonconference win over FSU -- would be ranked higher than a one-loss team from the Big 12.
Michael W. Holbrook in Syracuse writes: What happened to The Syracuse Orange this year after such a successful season last year!?!?!? What can we expect next year? How is The Orange's recruiting going? Thank you very much for your time and consideration!
Adelson: I think there were a few factors at play this season. First, Syracuse lost a lot of tremendous senior leadership from guys like Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith and ultimately, I think it was much harder for the Orange to find seniors to step up and take on that role. Secondly, Syracuse lost a good number of starters on defense. Combine that with injuries that hit early in the season, most especially in the secondary, and this group took a step back in 2011. Third, there was no real offensive consistency and Ryan Nassib seemed to play worse as the season progressed. Fourth, the West Virginia victory really did a number on this team. After getting to five wins, it seemed like a no-brainer that the Orange would make a bowl game. But after losing a couple, players pressed. They put pressure on themselves to get that sixth win, and they were basically playing like they were too worried about making a mistake. All of that combined for a 5-7 season. I had Syracuse eighth in my way too early predictions because I think the Orange lose some of their best players once again, in Antwon Bailey, Chandler Jones, Phillip Thomas and Nick Provo to name a few. This team has to show me something to inspire some confidence. As for recruiting, I think it is safe to say it has been a mixed bag. The Orange got a huge lift this weekend when three-star defensive end Josh Manley out of Georgia committed. They have lost out on some of the prospects they really wanted, but they also have commitments from 11 three-stars.
Eroc in The District writes: Do yourself a favor. Don't forget (Cincinnati's) Dan Giordano. He was often overlooked on the DL this season due to Walter Stewart getting most of the hype and Derek Wolfe beasting his opposition (which I called and you never game me a mention). Giordano is a blue collar, high motor DE. Yes, he will miss Wolfe and Hughes but the Bearcats DT rotation should be deeper, which will favor him.
Adelson: Does this count as a mention? I do believe I had Mr. Wolfe ranked in the preseason top 25, though very, very under-ranked at No. 21. I think what will help Cincinnati in 2012 without Wolfe and Hughes is the way this team was able to get its rotation going this season, getting guys like Giordano, Brandon Mills and Jordan Stepp valuable experience and playing time. That was something that was sorely lacking in 2010. Depth has to be built in spring practice and fall camp, but I will be absolutely interested to see whether this new configuration can keep up the production from 2011, without its co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year.