Friday Big East mailbag

Thanks for the many great submissions on the gameday traditions series. Only three schools left, and they may be the most difficult ones to find a lot of traditions. So help me out if you can, fans of Syracuse, South Florida and UConn.

Let's get to a few e-mails while dreaming of spring:

Maurice from Farmington writes: What I am reading and hearing is that the Big 10 will make Rutgers an offer. My question: can the Big East survive another raid?

Brian Bennett: I'm glad you bring this up, Maurice, because I've heard this talk a lot. And I think it's way overblown. Yes, if the Big East loses a team, it would be a big blow. But let's assume for now that the Big Ten takes one and only one team. And if it's Rutgers, well, the Big East would hate to lose that presence in New Jersey/New York. But let's be frank: Rutgers has never won a Big East title in football, and its men's basketball team is terrible. Do you think Pitt, West Virginia, Syracuse, et al would just decide to close up shop because Rutgers was no longer in the league? Unless other conferences choose to expand and poach, the Big East would remain viable and would just have to add another team or two. Remember the ACC raid took three programs, and Miami and Virginia Tech were much stronger then than Rutgers is now.

Sean P. from Tampa writes: I'm an alumnus from USF and a diehard Bulls fan. I'm very passionate on all this expansion talk; please give me one good reason why the Big East shouldn't drop Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul, and Notre Dame. Then add Memphis, UCF, East Carolina, and Marshall. By adding UCF you get more Florida recruits for the conference and renew the rivalry with UCF and USF. By adding Marshall you refuel that passionate rivalry with WVU. Memphis brings prominence to basketball and East Carolina has a decent enough football team to do well in the conference.

Then if the Big Ten takes a team from the Big East we can do everything we can to get Boston College or Kentucky. I know it would be hard to draw them away from the money but they aren't accomplishing anything by being in those conferences. Then split the conference between the North and the South and boom, you have a championship game.

Brian Bennett: I'm not sold on Marshall being anywhere near ready to field a BCS program, and Memphis is a long way off, too. I think we all know why Providence isn't going anywhere soon; the school has some, ahem, strong advocates in the Big East office. But I've said for a while now that adding DePaul was a mistake that needs to be corrected, and Seton Hall adds very little to the table. I see no reason to drop Notre Dame; the Irish are a terrific draw in all sports besides football and help with the bowl bids. So, I'd amend your plan and add UCF and East Carolina while dropping DePaul and Seton Hall. That gets you to nine football members if one bolts for the Big Ten, helping scheduling. And the basketball would remain at 16.

Sean P. and I would now like to collect our $50,000 consulting fee.

Zach from Baltimore writes: Love blog and keep up the good work. Anyways I have a question on the gameday traditions. How did "Sweet Caroline" a Pitt "tradition?" Um, isn't that a Red Sox tradition dating back a whole lot further than Pitt? What's next? Are they gonna steal the rock-touching thing from Clemson and call it a Pitt "tradition"? Maybe they should start chanting "Rock Chalk, JayPanther" and call it a Pitt tradition as well. Doesn't the word in and of itself imply something invented by their own fans for a long period of time?

Brian Bennett: I thought this e-mail was very funny. I'll restrain from poking fun, but Pitt fans feel free to defend yourselves below. As a Red Sox fan myself, I have to point out that the "Sweet Caroline" tradition at Fenway Park isn't very old either and also makes almost no sense. But it is a catchy song, even when my friend Greg sings it with an evil baritone on karaoke nights.

Juan F. from Lafayette, La., writes: You had a small piece on how well Devin McCourty did at the combine. Well this note on a blog on NFL.com suggests he might have done even better than credited for. "McCourty ran unofficial hand-held 40 times of 4.34 and 4.35, but his official electronic time came in at a much slower 4.48."

Brian Bennett: Thanks for the tip, Juan. I think all of us who watched McCourty play at Rutgers thought he would run better than a 4.48. Any scout who's paying attention knows he's a special talent.