Big East mailbag

Keep the suggestions coming for players you'd like to see featured in this summer's "Where Are They Now" series. Now let's wrap up the week with some of your e-mails:

Dave from Charlotte, N.C., writes: What are your top five schools the Big East should look at for restocking/expansion? Everyone says UCF is No. 1, but I think East Carolina is clearly the best choice. ECU reminds me so much of where Virginia Tech was before they joined the Big East -- a good program with a passionate (and fairly big) fan base. The Big East is not the Big Ten. TV market should not be the driving force. The Big East needs good teams, regardless of where they play. Besides, some of the best programs (Penn St, VT, Nebraska) play in the middle of nowhere.

Brian Bennett: I still think Central Florida would be the top choice because of its location (Orlando), new facilities, huge and growing student base and the natural rivalry with South Florida. My list would probably look like this:

  1. Central Florida

  2. East Carolina

  3. Memphis

  4. Temple

I really don't have a No. 5, unless Villanova wanted to move up to the FBS level. The pickings are pretty slim.

Jay V. from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, writes: Hey BB: Considering I've been stuck over here in Afghanistan with the Army for the past six months, your blog has been my source for news with my Panthers, so keep up the great work! Here's my question though. Do you think once JoePa finally retires Pitt and Penn St. will take another look into renewing the rivalry, especially since both teams are considerably better since they ended the series in 2000?

Brian Bennett: Jay, thanks for everything you do and stay safe over there. Hope this humble blog provides you with some distractions. Anyway, Pitt and Penn State could be playing in as soon as a few years if Pitt ends up in the Big Ten. Other than that, yeah, it will probably take Paterno retiring. And who knows if he ever will? There's no guarantee, though, that the series will resume on an annual basis even in the post-Paterno era. Let's say Pitt doesn't go to the Big Ten but that league does expand. Penn State could be playing nine conference games a year in a supersized Big Whatever They Call It. If that's the case, the Nittany Lions may want to dumb down the nonconference schedule as much as possible. A lot will depend on the next coach and what his scheduling philosophy is.

I hope the rivalry resumes, though, because it would be good for college football.

Zeeshan from NYC writes: With regards to your Big East rivalries post, how come Penn State/Rutgers isn't there? I know so many people from NJ who would love to show up Pennsylvania and the best way to make it happen would be pitting the two state flagships at each other. Come to think of it though, expansion might make this a regular occurence. My prediction: Rutgers wins the first billion games.

Brian Bennett: A lot of Penn State chatter today. Well, that certainly is one of the rivalries I'd like to see, although with a 2-22 record in the series, the Scarlet Knights can hardly say to be rivals of the Nittany Lions. The two teams will resume playing in 2014 and 2015, and there's a very good chance they'll be meeting on a regular basis in the Big Ten.

Jason from East Hampton, Conn., writes: With regards to rivalries ... Do you think UConn will ever play Yale? I mean, a couple years ago Yale was going for an undefeated season. They would certainly draw a large crowd at Yale Bowl for an instate rivalry. Yale is rebuilding, but hey, why not?

Brian Bennett: I like the idea in principle. But, no, you're not going to see Ivy League teams taking on FBS opponents. It's just too great of a difference, and those worlds don't really need to collide.

Nathan from Cincinnati writes: The Cincinnati/Ohio State rivalry will be revisited in 2012 when UC plays at OSU.

Brian Bennett: You're right. I skipped right over that when I wrote the two schools will next play in 2014. Thanks for fixing my mistake.

Julian from Tampa writes: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on Tuesday he was looking to expand to markets in the South as the shifting populating is migrating further down South. Now seeing UF, FSU, and Miami are already in great conferences. What is the possibility the Big Ten will try and recruit South Florida?

Brian Bennett: I think people misread or misinterpreted Delany's comments. What he said was that the Big Ten was studying population trends and had found that many people were moving to the Sun Belt areas of the country. The Big Ten is not looking to expand south, unless it can somehow get Texas, which is unlikely. More to the point, the Big Ten wants to strengthen itself in the Midwest and Northeast near population centers to offset a potential shrinking of its existing markets. If anything, I took those comments to mean that Rutgers is even more attractive because of its location.