Welcome to your Friday edition of the mailblog. Hope everybody got a chance to watch the final shuttle launch. It was a sight to see.
Now on to some questions:
Kevin Steller in Louisville writes: My question is concerning the depth of the D-Line in the Big East this year. Since many teams seem to be very strong in this arena, couldn't we end up with a season much like last year? Last year, most BE teams didn't put up great offensive numbers against fellow league members. I think this might have added to the overall poor perception of the BE (in addition to the fact that we didn't perform well in out-of-Conference games). What do you think would be the perception if the same were to happen this year? Would wins in high profile OOC games all of sudden make the talking heads go from "The offenses in the BE are awful" to "The defense in the BE are wonderful and will keep a lot of teams from scoring, no matter the conference."
Andrea Adelson writes: Great question, Kevin. I think winning those nonconference games is absolutely paramount to getting people around the country to notice the Big East. What would it mean if USF beat Notre Dame, Syracuse beat USC and West Virginia beat LSU just for starters? People most certainly would take notice. Now you are absolutely right that the defensive line is probably the strongest position top to bottom in the league. But given the incoming coaches at Pitt and West Virginia, along with Cincinnati, the expectation is going to be that there should be more offense in the league. If there are not fireworks in West Virginia, folks are going to be disappointed, and are not going to want to praise the league for having strong defenses. Right or wrong, offenses help make people take notice. Kinda like home run hitting in baseball.
Andrew in Korea writes: Hi Andrea!! What are the chances UMass pulls a USF and does three years in a mediocre conference before jumping to the Big East in 2015? Boston is a better market than any of the other schools like UCF, Houston, etc. It's a big school and will have the whole state and Bob Kraft money backing the program to an extent.
Adelson writes: How is UMass a better choice than Nova? Sure it helps that UMass will be playing in the Patriots Stadium and has a blessing from Bob Kraft and will be in an FBS conference. But UMass is a long way from Foxborough. And UMass would add all its other sports into the mix, which complicates matters. I really want to see what type of attendance UMass will get and how the team will fare in the MAC. Being in a good TV market is obviously a huge part of an invite, but there has to be a fit there that makes sense for the league.
Nittany Mountaineer in Allentown, Pa., writes: Hey Andrea, I know this expansion thing has been beat to death over the past few months, but I want to get your opinion on a new candidate. With the addition of TCU, I feel like the Big East should take this opportunity to lock up some more southern schools. For that reason I feel SMU might be a good school to look at rather than Houston. Good TV market, storied program, already established rivalry with TCU, wealthy alumni that want to see a return to prominence, close proximity to TCU will lock down the Dallas/Fort Worth Market, good academics, and I could go on and on why it would be a good fit. Not to mention they would probably consider football only membership. If the BE could move to 12 with the likes of TCU, SMU, UCF and let's say Navy (whom already has a rivalry with SMU), I feel like they could really position themselves for future success. Any thoughts?
Adelson writes: Adding SMU doesn't increase the dollars in a future media rights deal, for starters. SMU is in Dallas; TCU is in Fort Worth but essentially it is the same TV market area. I agree SMU would be a nice travel partner and would bring a natural rivalry with TCU. They already play for the Iron Skillet. But I am not sure moving to 12 is a good fit for the league at this point. The Big East would just look like C-USA reconstituted with your plan. Is that good for the league? I can also tell you the only way Navy joins a conference is if there is a seismic shift in the college landscape. The Midshipmen like being independent right now.
Matt Wendth in Cincinnati writes: Do you think that Cincinnati's toughest test all season will be their nonconference game against the Vols? And if they go undefeated up until conference play what do you think their chances are at another undefeated season?
Adelson writes: No. I think Tennessee is going to be mediocre this year. That will be the biggest nonconference test, but I think West Virginia, Pitt and USF will be tougher than the Vols. A win over Tennessee would obviously be nice and a feather in the league cap. But the league games are must-wins and tougher in that respect. I would say the chances of an undefeated season are low. I have high expectations for the offense, but not sure the defense is going to be at the level it needs to be to win every game.