Another week is almost in the books. Let's take one more look into the mailbag.
Caleb in Boise, Idaho, writes: I just read on the Big East blog a fellow Boisean saying we are apprehensive over here about the move to the Big East. WRONG !! I am 28 years old and have been going to the games and following the football program all my life. Myself, and many other people I talk to are absolutely ecstatic! It may not be the ideal situation, but I think the exposure, strength of schedule , and recruiting will prove priceless! I feel the Big East is shaping up to be a better football conference then they ever have been. I can't wait to play our new conference mates! Just wondering your opinion on the overall strength of the conference to be and also maybe some speculation on who the possible 14th team will be (rumored to be western), and what this "re-branding" of the Big East might turn out.
Andrea Adelson: Glad there is some excitement in Boise about the Big East. In terms of overall strength of the conference, there are a few things to point to -- you have programs on the rise like Louisville and Cincinnati, and possibly even Rutgers depending on how this season turns out. There is competitiveness top to bottom, and quite a bit of unpredictability. I think these schools I mentioned, plus the addition of Boise State, gives the Big East a real shot at having an upper tier of schools. Having an upper-tier of schools will greatly benefit the Big East. If you don't believe me, this is what Louisville coach Charlie Strong said last summer on the topic. "What’s gotta happen is teams have to be consistent and you have to win. We need more than one team as your team. It’s got to be 1 or 2 teams," he said. "Some teams are going to have to separate themselves." As for team No. 14, I am figuring the Big East will make another run at BYU and Air Force. Without them, I cannot see many more options that fit the profile the Big East is looking for. The league needs a successful football-only program out west in a big media market. On to the re-branding: I think the league is going to emphasize that it goes from Coast to Coast in major media markets across the land. But I'm not sure how much re-branding will convince folks that the bigger Big East is better.
Dwayne in NYC writes: UConn's spring practices starts next week. The big issue is the quarterback question. I read the recent chat and you mentioned that you think Casey Cochran is gonna be the starter for UConn. While I definitely think Cochran is the future, most probably one of the older guys will be the starter and he (Cochran) will probably redshirt. You mentioned that (Chandler) Whitmer struggled at Illinois, but did he? A closer look at the situation reveals that the coaching staff was focused on a dual-threat quarterback. Redshirt Nathan Scheelhaase was their guy because of his ability to make plays with his feet. That had to do with the philosophy of the coaching staff who wanted at quarterback who can carry the ball say 150 times a year in addition to throwing. Whitmer only participated in one year of spring practice as a true freshman and early enrollee just like Cochran will be next week? So if Cochran doesn't win the starting job as a true freshman he's not gonna be a good quarterback, I don't think that's fair. Same thing applies to Whitmer, he transferred as a freshman after a redshirt season and didn't even wait for spring practice. The Illinois coaching staff didn't want him to go. I think that UConn's pro-style system will really fit Whitmer's skills set a lot better.
Adelson: Dwayne, you may indeed be correct. I was not saying Whitmer is a failure. I said I wanted to know if the year in junior college really helped him, as I was under the impression he lost a battle for the starting quarterback job at Illinois and then decided to transfer. Would I be surprised if UConn decided to start him and redshirt Cochran? Not at all. I just don't think the Huskies have the option of turning to Johnny McEntee again. Scott McCummings and Michael Nebrich could emerge, but I think it is going to come down to Whitmer and Cochran. Why did I side with Cochran? As I mentioned in the chat, it was just a guess, the way I guessed Teddy Bridgewater would eventually win the starting job with the Cardinals. Two highly touted freshmen, enrolled a year early with a huge opportunity to win the starting job. But I have also maintained that it is always hard to judge the ability of true freshmen to come in and start right away.
New blogger writes: Another article about expansion and how the Big East is viewed yada, yada, yada. National perception? It's cause of bloggers and media like you that make it seem like Syracuse is worth anything on the football field or Pitt. News flash -- they aren't!! Why is it you say it takes time for outsiders (people with biased views) to change their impressions for teams upcoming yet teams in the other direction are still nationally recognized? Face it: Pitt is a bad football team and so is Syracuse. Who cares what they did 20 years ago? Alabama was in the garbage before (Nick) Saban went there.
Adelson: Yes, Alabama was down, but the second the Tide started winning again, they shot straight into the rankings. It didn't take very long. You see the same "bias" with Notre Dame -- when was the last time the Irish won big? Yet every year, it doesn't take much for them to get ranked in the preseason polls. I completely agree that history shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, these are long-standing perceptions that programs like Alabama *should* be good. And programs like (fill in your favorite Big East school) *should* be middle of the road. You can blame me if you want. But I don't have an AP vote. And I don't have a Harris poll vote.
Sean in Louisville writes: Hi Andrea!!! When will we start to see your 2012 Big East college football season previews?
Adelson: Spring previews first, Sean. I am running those the first day of spring practice for each school. That means Syracuse and UConn come up next Tuesday; USF and Louisville on Wednesday; and Rutgers on March 27.