Big East mailbag

I'm fully recovered now from my Derby weekend and ready to take on your questions. Let's roll.

Brandon from Storrs, Conn., writes: I really enjoy following the blog as UConn keeps getting more and more praise as the weeks go on, but why is that you seem to be the only analyst I've read who puts them even in the Top 25? Do you think a win at the Big House opening weekend would give them the push into the rankings?

Brian Bennett: I think it's all about name recognition. Not only do people still doubt UConn as a football program, but the team doesn't have a lot of nationally known stars. Plus, I'm sure some just look at last year's 8-5 record without realizing all that went into it, how the Huskies finished and who they've brought back. I remain a believer. Would a win at Michigan change things? It might, but I think the story out of that result would be more about Rich Rodriguez's troubles and less about how good UConn actually is.

Jim from Highland Park, N.J., writes: Pretend you don't follow the Big East. After watching spring practice, which team was most impressive and why?

Brian Bennett: Based purely on what I saw on the field, Pitt and Connecticut were the two most impressive teams. They were the deepest and most well-rounded clubs. But, Cincinnati's offense is spectacular, and I think the Bearcats will find enough solutions on defense to be a major contender. And I'm sure West Virginia will be good; it's just that when I saw them, they had a lot of players out for a variety of reasons, and Geno Smith wasn't full go. Those are still the best four teams in the league, in my opinion, and it's really close.

WV Rules from Columbus, Ohio, writes: Shouldn't UConn have to beat WVU ONCE before they're considered ahead of them? I mean, seriously dude, 0-and-forever is a pretty strong statement. Next thing you know, you'll have Rutgers ahead of us ...

Brian Bennett: Past performance does not necessarily indicate future success. If I used your logic, we could have counted out Cincinnati in 2008 because of the lack of success the Bearcats had against West Virginia in Morgantown. Also remember that UConn doesn't necessarily have to beat West Virginia to finish ahead of the Mountaineers in the Big East standings. Pitt lost to WVU last year but nearly won the Big East anyway a week later. And, of course, it's only May. Things can change.

Gary P. from Cincinnati writes: Why doesn't the Big East expand to a 16-team football conference first before the other conference move? If we move first we can pick the best apples off the tree that are ripe and waiting to be picked?

Brian Bennett: Gary, those would be some scary-looking apples. The Big East hasn't been able to identify one team for expansion in the past few years because there's no perfect candidate. What makes you think it could suddenly come up with eight? You'd be talking schools like Marshall, Army, Navy, Temple and UAB to get to 16. No thanks.

Jim from Syracuse writes: Since Syracuse has two FCS teams on the schedule this year, that would normally require seven wins to get a bowl. But since there are 35 bowl games and odds are there will not be 70 teams with at least a 6-6 record, would that mean Syracuse could get a bowl berth with only 6 wins?

Brian Bennett: That's an excellent question. The NCAA has already said that a 5-7 team could make a bowl if there are not enough eligible teams to fill the 70 spots. It's unclear at this point if a 6-6 team with two FCS wins would be considered better than a 5-7 team with one FCS win, but I think that would likely be the case. If nothing else, a bowl would probably rather take a team without a losing record for PR purposes. So Syracuse may have picked a good time to go the two-FCS opponent route.