Big East mailbag

Once again, circumstances have forced me to move the regular Tuesday mailbag to Wednesday. But better late than never, right?

Mike from Somerville, N.J., writes: To add or respond to your comments last week regarding the security of Greg Schiano, one point that you didn't make is the public perception of the kids in the program being generally good kids, and their outstanding academic acheivement. Now, 4-8 with the powder-puffs on their schedule dilutes a lot of the good will, but a consistent competitive team, with bowl victories, and continued academic performance has him very secure at Rutgers. Toss in a Big East championship, and he could publically support the teachers' union in NJ and still be the favored son of NJ!

Brian Bennett: You raise a good point about Schiano's academic achievements, including Rutgers' APR crown. We saw how a slew of arrests hurt Dave Wannstedt last year. Still, if a coach wins big, then nobody talks about poor academics. If he doesn't win enough, nobody cares about high graduation rates. It's ultimately all about the won-loss record, and while Schiano is safe for now, no coach is immune to pressure if the losses mount.

Greg from New Jersey writes: Schiano apparently tried Mohamed Sanu out at punter during practice, and on his first kick he hit out a 55-yarder. Last year he had a rushing TD, a passing TD, and a receiving TD, not to mention an interception on the one play he was put at safety (in limited time mind you). My question is have you ever seen a player more versatile?

Brian Bennett: Paul Hornung, maybe? Having Sanu punt would sure open up lots of opportunities for fakes -- and create some nervous opposing coaches on fourth down.

Doug C. from Morgantown writes: Can we get an early oddsmakers on Big East Offensive Player of the year in 2011? Geno Smith has to be up there...who else?

Brian Bennett: I'd put it like this right now ...

Geno Smith: 3 to 1

Zach Collaros: 4 to 1

Ray Graham: 6 to 1

Isaiah Pead: 8 to 1

B.J. Daniels: 10 to 1

The field: 15 to 1

Casey H. from Charleston, W.Va., writes: Who do you feel will pick up the start at tailback for WVU next season, and do you think he will be a large component of the offensive production?

Brian Bennett: My hunch is it will be Shawne Alston. I just think he has the best combination of skills, and he was impressive in some spot duty last year. Ryan Clarke will also be used a lot. We'll have to wait and see on the incoming freshmen. Remember that Kendall Hunter ran for more than 1,500 yards last year for Dana Holgorsen at Oklahoma State.

Ed from Morgantown writes: Agree with WVU's spring superlatives, but don't underestimate the depth at WR. Beyond Tavon Austin and Bradley Starks, Stedman Bailey is going to break out this year, and we all have high hopes for OchoChinco's cousin Ivan McCartney (not to mention JD Woods & Coley White).

Brian Bennett: I mentioned receiver as a source of strength, but no less of an expert than Holgorsen himself has said the position needs more depth. He'd like to have eight dependable receivers, at least, for his system. Right now, I'd say West Virginia has about five or six.

Brad B. from Bethel Park, Pa., writes: Is Pitt's Kolby Gray the best country singer in college football?

Brian Bennett: Not my type of music, but that's pretty impressive. Pitt will have to hope he's equally good at safety, where he's moved back after a short spring stint at quarterback. This also reminds me: Is B.J. Daniels the best romance suspense novelist in college football?