No football this weekend. Take along the mailbag to keep you company.
Trenton Orange in Trenton, N.J., writes: Your NSD assessment of Syracuse was a little harsh and wrong given the circumstances, i.e. when Doug Marrone left and how many assistants involved in recruiting he took with him. You also failed to mention some of the really terrific catches coach Scott Shafer had with two three-star wideouts and getting Mitch Kimble (a three-star quarterback) as a replacement for the three-star QB that quit on us. It is not just that Shafer held onto certain recruits and lost some others but significantly with little time he went out and stole numerous quality players. Overall, Shafer did a terrific job. The glass is more than half full not half empty!!
Andrea Adelson: Trenton, I am sorry you thought the post came off too harshly. I thought it was important to note that Syracuse had lost players because of the coaching staff changes. It's hard to overlook that. But if you go back and take a look at the entire post, I did note the pickups Shafer made. I mentioned Kimble by name, along with Tyler Provo, Brisly Estime, Austin Wilson and Wayne Williams. I also noted Shafer was not put in a great position to hold the class together, and gave credit for holding the class together. Still, this is a group rated among the lowest of all ACC teams, and you can't just ignore that fact.
Jamie Barnes in Montgomery, Texas, writes: When I've read about the changes in the Big East from reporters and readers in traditional Big East cities, they've seemed to think the football programs coming in are all pretty lightweight. University of Houston has only had two losing seasons since 2002, has a couple of 10-win seasons, and has been to seven bowl games in that span. SMU, Central Florida and East Carolina are similarly solid. Do you think the average Eastern seaboard Big East follower has any clue about this?
Adelson: I cannot speak for the average Eastern seaboard Big East follower. But I will repeat what I have said for some time. Perception is reality. Here is the reality: The Big East has lost nearly every single one of its football founding members. And it has replaced these members with former Conference USA schools. Perception: Conference USA is a lightweight. Therefore, the perception is that the Big East has become a lightweight because it has lost its "traditional" schools and replaced them with programs that are not as easily identifiable because they have played in relative national obscurity. It's much easier to follow along a well-worn, if incorrect storyline, than to flip the script and actually do some fact-checking.
Oliver in Louisville, Ky., writes: I am sad to see Louisville and Cincinnati in different conferences in the future. It seems they have been brothers in arms in many conferences through the years and have developed a great rivalry through the years. What are the chances that the Louisville-Cincinnati Keg of Nails rivalry continues in the future?
Adelson: That is a great question, Oliver. I am not sure what the future holds for this game. Cincinnati would have room for it; would Louisville, especially if it continues on with its series against Kentucky? Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has said he wants to maintain both rivalry games, but is that feasible if the ACC eventually plays nine conference games? A lot of these old rivalries have fallen by the wayside because of conference realignment. This one could very well follow.
Kevin in Westwood, N.J., writes: What do you think the teams leaving the Big East (including Rutgers and Louisville) need to do in order to compete in their respective new leagues and what do you think the incoming teams will need to do in order to compete in the Big East?
Adelson: Your question involves a long and involved response, probably longer than what I have space for in the mailbag today. First and foremost, I think all these schools are going to have to step up their game in recruiting. When you look at the 2013 class rankings, the ACC had five teams finish in the Top 25. Florida State and Clemson -- two future rivals for Louisville in the Atlantic Division -- finished with Top 13 classes. Pitt and Syracuse finished toward the bottom of the ACC. Rutgers would have ranked No. 7 among all Big Ten schools. Second, particularly for the incoming Big East schools, defense is the name of the game. This has been a defensive league for quite some time. So if you don't play solid D, you are not going to win yourself many games. Third, I think it is important to remember that the incoming Big East schools and outgoing Big East schools are not joining unstoppable conferences. Both the ACC and Big Ten had relative down years in 2012. I firmly believe Rutgers, Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse would have been bowl teams as part of their new conferences. The Big East, of course, is up for grabs. I think Rutgers is probably joining a more difficult situation. But Rutgers today is not Rutgers of 1991. This is a football program now.