Let's take a glance into the mailbag before we celebrate the holiday.
Chris Snow in Portland, Ind., writes: Would it be smart if the Big East continues down the path of where they are going, which is obscurity, that USF do what BYU did? Leave the conference and schedule games with all the big boys and try to impress conferences that way. I would sacrifice two or three seasons of conference play, put a schedule like Notre Dame has together, and hope that a big-five conference takes notice and adds me. What say you?
Andrea Adelson: I say -- how are you going to make money off a television deal? I hear a lot of folks wondering about whether their school should go independent. I've heard it from Boise State fans as well. BYU is a national school with its own television network, and it was able to secure its own TV deal with ESPN. USF? Boise State? The chances that they can negotiate TV deals of their own is exceptionally remote. So USF has to stick it out in the Big East and then see where conference realignment takes it.
Doug in Middletown, Conn., writes: Hi Andrea, what are your thoughts on UConn and the Big Ten? Why was Rutgers more attractive to the Big Ten then UConn?
Adelson: Bottom line: television market. The Big Ten targeted markets with large populations and large bases of Big Ten alumni. Rutgers (New York) and Maryland (Baltimore/Washington D.C.) fit the bill more than Connecticut.
Scott in Annapolis, Md., writes: With Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Geno Smith playing in their last game together, I look for the Mountaineers to go out big on this one. I know WVU's defense stinks (especially the cornerbacks), but if WVU's offense is firing on all cylinders, Cuse doesn't stand a chance. Just ask Clemson. Orange juice anyone?? WVU 55, Cuse 24.
Adelson: You just said West Virginia's defense stinks. So how exactly are these stinky cornerbacks (your words!) going to stop Alec Lemon, Marcus Sales and Ryan Nassib? Syracuse has a way better defense than Clemson -- you should be well aware of that. I will make my pick next week, but I have a hard time believing Syracuse only scores 24 points. Just won't happen.
John in Louisville writes: AA, I am confused how the Catholic schools saying they are leaving has any effect on the football teams, other than money in TV revenue. Everyone is saying that the BE could lose its BCS bid next year and I was hoping you could explain that talk to me.
Adelson: I am as confused as you are, to be honest. Before these hoops schools broke away, I was told repeatedly the Big East would remain an automatic qualifying conference in 2013. So I am not sure why that changes when NON-FOOTBALL-PLAYING schools leave. Perhaps there is a fear the entire Big East will fall apart. My bet is nothing happens to the automatic bid for next year. Now, if football schools begin to depart en masse, that could change.
Chris Columbo in New York writes: One of the big issues Cincinnati has is lack of fan support. Not being able to sell out a small and unique on-campus stadium such as Nippert when they are doing so well is a sign of weakness on many levels. I actually think they are making a mistake by expanding the facility. The money could be put to much better use by expanding their endowment and getting a higher quality of kids to attend the school. More prestigious school equals more fans as people want to be associated with winning on and off the field. I am originally from East Lansing (Michigan State) and went to school at Wisconsin. We would regularly have 70,000 people at games even when both teams were losing. Actually in Wisconsin's case, they were selling out games when they had 1-10 seasons. The reason was people wanted to be associated with the schools. For Cincinnati to have the kind of success it wants to have, the games have to be a kind of see-and-be-seen type of event. Nippert is like Wrigley Field. No one cares if the Cubs win but people go to the games for all the other social reasons.
Adelson: You bring up an excellent point. Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock was asked during his press conference earlier this week about the school's inability to sell out games. Rather than criticize fans, he essentially said the success was all relatively new for the program and he believes Cincinnati will get to a point where it can sell out games. The expansion, however, has more to do with making itself more attractive to another conference should an opportunity arise in realignment. Cincinnati has one of the smallest stadiums of any program currently in an AQ conference. Only Wake Forest and Duke have smaller capacities. Putting in more suites and club boxes brings added revenue streams and can help Cincinnati financially. So selling out games at this point is icing on the cake. The goal is to bump up capacity while bringing in more cash with suites, boxes and naming-rights opportunities.