Friday Big East mailbag

Just two more weekends to go and then it will be game week.

Are you following the Big East blog on Twitter? We've been having a fun discussion over there today about whether the West Virginia-Marshall series matters to Mountaineers fans. If you're not following yet, do so at this link. Come on, let's get more followers than the ACC blog.

But you don't have to tweet to send me your thoughts and questions. There's still the mailbag, and speaking of which ...

Joe M. from Cincinnati writes: The Mountain West just added three respectable football schools in Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada to the venerable schools it already has in TCU and BYU (assuming BYU stays). Obviously they are shooting for an automatic bid to the BCS with these recent firepowers, and they'll probably get it, but at what cost? Is the Big East in trouble with possibly losing its automatic bid to the MWC?

Brian Bennett: Well, first of all, we don't know yet if BYU will stay in the Mountain West, and the school sure seems determined to go independent in football if it can make it work. So if there's no BYU and no Utah, all of a sudden the Mountain West looks a whole lot weaker than it did this time last year and a long shot at best to win an automatic bid.

Let's say, though, that BYU stays and the conference does earn automatic status. That would not be at the expense of the Big East; rather, the BCS has a provision to add a seventh automatic conference bid. So the Big East doesn't need to worry about that.

Stephen from Morgantown writes: Give us Mountie fans more info on Bruce Irvin. You have far more connections than we do. Apparently this guy is the real deal and could be like a George Selvie type for us. I'd like to have your perspective on him and what you've heard from coaches and other personnel about his guy.

Brian Bennett: Everything I hear about Irvin is that he's a monster and is a pass-rushing demon. The more apt South Florida comparison would be to Jason Pierre-Paul, who took the league by storm right out of junior college, which is the same route Irvin is trying to take. I'm not anointing him yet, however. Lots of players have been practice stars but haven't translated it to the field. I'm waiting to see what Irvin does when they strap it up for real next month. But I'm excited to see it.

Eddie from Norwalk, Conn., writes: Most of us will agree that UConn will be favored vs. Michigan, now I'm sure, but most people won't predict us to win by more then a touchdown or two. But what if, and this is a strong what if, UConn comes out with a commanding lead towards the end of the game. Now in that case do you see Rand Edsall running the score up if the opportunity presents itself? I understand Edsall is a classy guy and one of the most respected coaches out there, so this seems unlikely. But as all of us here in CT remember the last time our Huskies faced Rich Rod back in '07 -- he had no problem unleashing his offense on us way after the game was won. Outscoring us in the second half 7-42.

Brian Bennett: Eddie, I admire your optimism. UConn is not going to be favored at Michigan, though the Huskies have a great chance of winning that game. Running up the score? I think this game is going to be close. The Wolverines still have a lot of talent and are desperate to get the season off to a good start. But keep dreaming big.

Steven R from Louisville writes: The over/under on Louisville at 4.5 is probably a good bet. But I still think that you and many other media peeps are underestimating the power of Charlie Strong. I agree our defense has major questions, but as you've stated, we blew good chances at UK and at WVU last year. I believe that just kidding rid of Kragthorpe gains us at least one win over last year.

Brian Bennett: I agree with your sentiment, but one more win still means just 5-7. I have no doubt that Strong will get this program back where it needs to be. But he's got some obstacles in Year 1. The good news is that Cardinals fans are so happy to be rid of Kragthorpe that they will embrace any success Strong has this season.

Bash from Okinawa writes: Hey, Brian, if you had a choice to attend one nonconference game for every Big East team this season, which ones would you chose?

Brian Bennett: I really hope that's Okinawa, Japan, so the blog can put a push pin in another country. Anyway, as to your question, my answer is this:

Cincinnati: Oklahoma, Sept. 25

Connecticut: at Michigan, Sept. 4

Louisville: Kentucky, Sept. 4

Pittsburgh: Miamim Sept. 23

Rutgers: North Carolina, Sept. 25

South Florida: at Florida, Sept. 11

Syracuse: at Washington, Sept. 11

West Virginia: at LSU, Sept. 25

Now, could someone please clone me so I can get to all these games?

Jason from Elkview, W. Va., writes: J.T. Thomas being left off the Butkus Award watch list is disappointing. That got me to wondering though. How do these award groups come up with their lists? What is the criteria, because in the past there have been players on some award lists that hadn't played a meaningful down in college yet? Thanks, and happy birthday or blog-day, I guess it should be called.

Brian Bennett: Criteria? I'm not sure there are any. For most of these awards, they have a committee or a list of voters, and they compile submissions based upon last year's statistics and/or nominations by the schools' sports information departments. Some awards are more on top of their lists than others. I mean, I like Greg Lloyd, but the UConn linebacker is on two preseason watch lists and he's not even going to play this year. The good news is, these watch lists are not exclusionary, and someone can win the award without being on the preseason list. It's mostly just a way to garner publicity.

Rob from Titusville, Fla., writes: Brian, you are entering your third year but it is only anniversary No. 2 (just to be picky). I do enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!

Brian Bennett: Clearly, I had too much champagne while celebrating my anniversary.