1. Even though you didn't win either the Pitt or WVU game, did either or both of those games give you a sense that things could turn around with the right person running the program?
Without question. I have had two big issues with this coach. First, these kids, as evident by the last few games, just cannot last all four quarters. Their conditioning is poor and they cannot play with enough stamina to not cause a major problem for the team down the stretch. This was evident by the 92 yard run by Noel Devine in the fourth against Syracuse.
Second, clearly we are not recruiting the players that we used to. Players that could block, and specifically players that could tackle. I think if we had a better coach, one with actual head coaching success and recruiting success, clearly Syracuse would not be at the bottom of the league. They might not be on top, but at least we would be better than we are, and a contender in every game. Because Greg Robinson is just not the guy to do it, but this team has shown flashes of greatness this season, I firmly believe that most other experienced coaches could take this team to at least a better place than eight wins in four seasons.
2. I've gone on and on about what is lacking with West Virginia's 2008 team. Give me your take, after watching this past weeks game, on what is wrong with the Mountaineers? Is it a matter of x's and o's, intensity, or both?
In this past week's game, I think you have to chalk it up to intensity. The offense just looked lackluster and they seemed unmotivated by the fact they were just playing lowly Syracuse. They pulled the classic Syracuse trick of playing down to their opponent. They just cannot phone it in against anyone, especially without Pat White.
However, I agree with your assessment in my questions to you. I think they need to open up the playbook a little more, as well as establish a run up the middle before trying to spread the offense out. Now, whether that was because they were less confident of your backup QB, or if that was the game they would have called with Pat White in is a good question. Either way, they needed a spark on offense and they were missing it.
3. Who were you impressed with and on the flip side, disappointed with for WVU?
In this game I was very impressed with Curtis "Boonah" Brinkley and his running ability in the game. He obviously earned a lot of the ground for Syracuse during this game and occasionally made the WVU defense look silly. Overall this season the offensive line has really improved from last year and it was evident in this game.
Disappointing for WVU was Jarrett Brown. Only earning 52 yards on 14 completions for the quarterback of the West Virginia Mountaineers is unacceptable. You are still being protected by the same offensive line as Pat White, and you are still throwing to the same people that Pat White does. While you may not be able to run like him, you should still complete some passes.
4. Point that back at the Orange, who has exceeded expectations and who has fell short for Syracuse?
The defense continues to fall short. While Noel Devine is talented, he should not have been able to rip off a 92 yard run that late in the forth quarter. The defense all season has let the team down at various points, putting the game out of reach or crushing the hopes and dreams of fans. For Greg Robinson to be heralded as a defensive guru coming in, and putting this defense on the field, is simply an embarrassment. I cannot overstate enough how disappointing the defense has been all season.
5. Instead of looking at who will be the next coach at SU, let's talk about the qualities you are looking for in the next coach. Is it important that he be an alumnus, or do you put more weight on things like a proven track record or familiarity recruiting the northeast?
Being an alumnus would be a huge plus, but I have three main criteria I would like in the next coach. First and foremost, they need to have immediate and prosperous recruiting ties to several areas. Syracuse used to recruit the likes of McNabb, Harrison, and Freeney. Now, the talent committing to Syracuse is not even close to what it should be. Syracuse needs a coach that can immediately come in and convince top talent that a new day is coming to the program and Syracuse will once again reclaim some of its past glory. Then and only then will the team truly get better, because you can have the best coach in the world, but he is only as good as the talent of his players at the end of the day.Second, they need to have measured success in the college game. Growing a middle of the pack program, showing the ability to win big games, or something like this should be a must. The last thing I want is to get some big name NFL guy that has not been in the college coaching ranks for years. The college game is different than the NFL, we all know this. We need a coach that understands this as well.Third, Syracuse needs someone they can believe in. By Syracuse, I mean the fans as a whole. The community needs a reason to believe that this team is going to get better and a new day has dawned. The last thing this program needs is something that the public perceives as more of the same. While the Athletic Department can't "clear" their final choice with the public, they clearly need to be reasonable in who they pick and not pick someone who the public is clearly showing they do not favor. If the department does pick someone that the public does not believe in, the money will not start flowing and attendance will not rise until they start winning again, and this might not be immediately. However, if it is someone the public does believe in, attendance and revenue will rise immediately, which will help everything. Immediately.
6. Who's going to win the Big East this year, and do they have a shot in hell of winning their BCS game?
I have never, and still do not believe that UConn will win the Big East this season, so let me quell that rumor right now. I think Pittsburgh is the team to beat in the Big East right now. They are 2-0 in the Big East with one of the wins being against ranked USF. I think they have a really favorable schedule for the remainder of the season that doesn't appear to be too testing. I think Pittsburgh still has the best show right now to win the league.
Second, I would have to say that West Virginia is next to have a shot at the league title. However, their schedule is far hardier in my opinion in that they still face USF and rival Pitt. Hopefully the offense will get into gear and give us some classic Big East football games. Plus, West Virginia has to be pissed about last year still right?
Either way, I just do not think this is the year to continue the Big East winning their BCS Bowl. While the press usually favors whatever other team the Big East plays (usually incorrectly), this year I just think the Big East is weaker than usual, therefore I just do not have the usual confidence in the league that I did last year or the year before when we were "dead". But it is always possible that whoever wins the league will surprise me. However, if it does happen to be UConn, we will definitely lose. No question.
7. Will the Big East still be composed of 16 teams, or will the football schools break away in 2010?
I have to believe that we will stay at 16 teams. It is a huge point of pride that we have the 16 team basketball league in the NCAA, and while the Big East takes a lot of crap for being a "weak football conference", it is usually not the case as evidence by our non-conference records the past several seasons, as well as our BCS Bowl record in the same time frame. Either way, despite the rumblings, I think we will stay at 16 teams. At least I hope we do. Because I am first and foremost, despite my love of college football, a mega college basketball fan and I love this league. I also love that the Big East Tournament in New York is all 16 teams now, so that will be even more exciting.