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Settling in

A few leftovers from the end of BE media day.

Zags with the obligatory Teel profile. Quite rightly, it mainly focuses on the impact of his thumb injury last year. Of course, he probably should have mentioned that Teel was hurt during garbage time when many of our fans were incensed that the starters were still in the game.

There were Saturday nights last year when Mike Teel's right thumb throbbed so much, the pain was overwhelming.

"For a period of four weeks, it was a nine out of 10, 10 out of 10," Teel said at Big East media day on Tuesday. "That's the way it goes. It's football, it's a physical game. You're going to get beat up. You're going to get hurt. There's a difference between being injured and being hurt. If you're injured you can't play, if you're hurt you play through the pain and do what you have to do."

Teel, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior from Oakland, N.J., initially injured his thumb when he banged it on another player's helmet last Sept. 15 against Norfolk State. By the fifth game of the year, it had progressed into a hairline fracture, a severe jam and a sprained tendon.

"He's a tough kid," Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said. "I feel bad, I'd talk to him [at] 10:30, 11 o'clock on a Saturday night after a game and his hand was throbbing. I would stay in contact with him and his dad and I look at these guys like my own kids. I keep trying to say if it were my son, what would I do? And the answer was if he wanted to do it, I'd let him to do it."

Despite the injury, Teel threw a school-record 20 touchdowns and had 3,147 passing yards -- the second-best single-season mark in school history -- while leading the Scarlet Knights to their second straight bowl victory. He had six games with at least 300 passing yards and now stands within range of several all-time Rutgers passing records.

Schiano said the biggest obstacle for his quarterback last season was his inability to practice because of the injury. In any given week, Teel couldn't work against the opponent's defense and coverage schemes.

"When you're in the grind of the season and you need time off, you don't get it," Teel said. "For me, it taught me a lot about how to be mentally tough, how not to go to practice all week and then go out and play in the game. To learn to take mental reps, to watch extra film, to prepare yourself as if you were practicing."

Stewart Mandel tabs Rutgers as a potential surprise team in 2008.

Three That Could End Up In The Top 15

1) Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights fell back off the map following a "disappointing" (as of 2005) 8-5 season, but it would not surprise me if Greg Schiano's squad returns to its 11-2 heights of a year earlier. The talent level in Piscataway has only gotten better now that Schiano can sell recruits on more than just blind faith. The passing game should be lethal with QB Mike Teel and receivers Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt returning, and the defense, which took a step back last year, will include nine upperclass starters.

Schiano is playing coy as to the RB rotation.

"Certainly it's always nice to go in with that," Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said. "But rarely do you walk into a year, in which every position is experienced. The thing that I'm excited about is the talent and the competition that will exist as a position where we are trying to replace one of the best players ever to play at Rutgers."

Schiano told reporters this morning at Big East Media Day that he thinks that each one of the four players has a chance to make an impact in the race for the position. Young, a junior, has the most experience of the bunch (14 games played), but is coming off of a knee injury which cut short his season last year. The plan was to involve Young in the offense more last season, along with Rice, however that was not able to happen.

Martinek, only a sophomore is not short on credentials either. In high school, he became New Jersey's all-time leading rusher, amassing 7,589 yards. However, he did not see any game action last year. Robinson, a sophomore, has carried the ball only 36 times in his career, having mostly seen time as a punt and kick returner.

Brooks, however, intrigues Schiano the most. At 6-1, 245 pounds, he is the biggest of all of the backs, a physical runner, which Rutgers hasn't had.

"The thing that's kind of neat is Jourdan gives us a different kind of back in the mix," Schiano said. "If he can continue to develop, regardless of who's getting the lion's share -- if it's him or someone else -- I think there's going to be a place for that big back."

Still, replacing Rice will not be an easy task. The school's all-time leading rusher bypassed his senior season to enter the NFL Draft and was taken in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens.

But Schiano is excited to see what he can develop now that he's gone.

"Those four guys are very qualified running backs," he said. "If somebody take it and just leaps out in front, then they'll get the lion's share of the carries. If not, then we'll spread it around."

He also reflected on Courtney Greene deciding to stay for his senior season.

Mark Richt has some familiar sources of inspiration.

More than anything else, Richt preached the value of persistence. He saw value in a motivational ploy Rutgers coach Greg Schiano used last season, comparing each opponent to a tree that needed to be chopped down.

"I kind of stole it from Rutgers," Richt said. "No matter what happens, you have to keep chopping wood. There's going to be things that don't go your way. When things get rough, you just have to keep chopping and know that something good is going to happen if you don't give in."

Who's going to replace Mike Tranghese?

At the league’s annual football media day yesterday at the Viking Hotel, coaches and administrators praised Tranghese’s leadership and made it clear that finding a strong replacement when he leaves in June is a major concern. The conference has put together a committee of six school presidents (Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and South Florida) who are charged with hiring a new leader.

Tranghese is clearly a proponent of seeing an administrator with Big East roots succeed him. A leading candidate could be the Big East’s senior associate commissioner, ex-Providence College athletic director John Marinatto, or perhaps a key athletic director like UConn’s Jeff Hathaway or Louisville’s Tom Jurich. Asked if it might be better for a person to be hired from outside the league, Tranghese said, "That person is going to have to convince our presidents of that."

Let's play word association:

Here’s the breakdown from my One-Word Wonders feature from Tuesday’s Big East media days, where I asked the eight head coaches six questions that they had to answer with one word.

Describe the Big East:
Edsall – Balanced
Kelly – Balanced
Kragthorpe – Competitive
Leavitt – Strong
Robinson – Competitive
Schiano – Competitive
Stewart – Tough
Wannstedt – Competitive

Describe your team:
Edsall – Competitive
Kelly – Stronger
Kragthorpe – Hungry
Leavitt – Strong
Robinson – Competitive
Schiano – Good
Stewart – Chemistry
Wannstedt – Hungry

Describe USF QB Matt Grothe:
Edsall – Athletic
Kelly – Headache
Kragthorpe – Playmaker
Leavitt – Strong
Robinson – Competitive
Schiano – Tough
Stewart – Winner
Wannstedt – Playmaker

Describe USF DE George Selvie:
Edsall – Fast
Kelly – Athletic
Kragthorpe – Disruptor
Leavitt – Strong
Robinson – Get-off
Schiano – Fast
Stewart – Playmaker
Wannstedt – Difference-maker

Do you favor a plus-one national playoff?
Edsall – No
Kelly – Yes
Kragthorpe – No
Leavitt – Don’t know
Robinson – Yes
Schiano – Yes
Stewart – No
Wannstedt – Yes

Do you favor a ninth football member?
Edsall – Yes
Kelly – No
Kragthorpe – Who?
Leavitt – Perhaps
Robinson – No opinion
Schiano – Defer
Stewart – Yes
Wannstedt – Yes

Pittblather found a nice blurb by Brett McMurphy to tuck away and revisit later in the year.

Big East AP voters: As mentioned last week, I will have a vote in this year’s Associated Press football poll. Of the 65 national voters, at least five will have ties to Big East schools.

The others: Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette; Mitch Vingle of The Charleston (WVa.) Gazette; Kent Taylor of WAVE Ch. 3 in Louisville, Ky. and John Silver of the Journal Inquirer in Connecuticut.

The state of Florida has two other voters besides myself: Robbie Andreu (Gainesville Sun) and Jim Lamar (Tallahassee Democrat).

The preseason AP poll will be released Aug. 16.

Actually, I understand that Fittipaldo covers PSU football and Pitt basketball.

The Providence Journal profiles UConn CB Darius Butler.

UConn has lost one of its top recruits in recent memory.

Dave Wannstedt is pointing to his protege Greg Schiano as evidence that patience can be rewarding.

"We know Greg's done a great job, but I would give credit to the administration for supporting Greg,'' Wannstedt said. ""I think there's a great lesson in that.''

And that lesson is?

"I assume people wanted him canned, but I'm sure the AD and the (Rutgers president) knew they had someone good and decided to let this thing ride out,'' Wannstedt said. ""And that's the lesson learned at any level of college athletics. If you're doing the right things internally, and (if) things haven't happened as fast as people on the outside would hope ...''

There were a lot of unhappy people during 2004, but I don't think Schiano was ever close to being fired.

As to the one Big East coach who probably will be out of a job soon.

Got back to town last night around 11 from another Big East Conference Media Day in Newport, R.I. Here's more stuff, per the session with Greg Robinson, the head coach of the Syracuse University football team. He would never say this, but it was a tough day for him on Tuesday. He sat there at the designated Syracuse table for an hour fielding questions around one central topic - Your team stinks. I saw him flustered once (which is when Arthur Jones excused himself). How could he not? Compared to the other seven tables with coaches in the room, Greg's was a lonely spot. I asked a bunch of questions. The majority of others at the table were student types, except for an older gentleman with some unfortunate nasal issues. To Greg's credit, he answered the questions with professionalism. Sure, he needs to at least SOUND more realistic, forthcoming and tone down the feel-good spin to his answers. But that's his personality. What is, is. (dang, did I really comp that phrase?)

Donnie Webb has a lengthy interview with GRob in the Post-Standard. Safe to say that GRob is channeling vintage Terry Shea, and definitely seems to have went off the deep end somewhere in the midst of all the double-digit poundings last fall. In the mean time, they're going to have to pick up the pieces and figure out how in the hell they're going to replace Mike Williams.

Pitt's formula for victory this fall? A whole lot of Shady McCoy.