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Big East Final Exams

Mike Tranghese and Nick Carparelli know that the current bowl position is untenable.

Nick Carparelli Jr., the Big East's associate commissioner for football, said the league would like to keep the number of bowl tie-ins at six and would continue to include Notre Dame as part of the equation "if it helps us and makes good business sense." But both he and Tranghese said the fluid tie-ins the league currently has with the Sun Bowl and Gator Bowl would likely be dropped or replaced.

"We probably won't have those hybrid tie-ins," Tranghese said. "It confused too many people."

Carparelli said the league coaches and athletic directors have made it clear that location, quality of opponent and accessibility for fans are the variables they are looking for most in bowls.

"It's rare to get all three in any game," he said. "If you can get two out of three you're satisfied most years. If it's just one out of three you hope a school can make up for that the next year."

My ideal lineup as is follows:

1. BCS
2. Gator (or Outback/other New Year's Day game)
3. Liberty/Champs Sports/Other respectable game
4. Meineke
5. St. Petersberg
6. Toronto/Birmingham

FootballOutsiders had an interesting statistical breakdown of the each major conference on Friday, and the Big East section spends a lot of time on RU's midseason turnaround. These numbers don't include the results of last week's games, which would skew things in RU's favor a little more. But the overall conclusion is that RU was the second best BE team in conference play this year. However, the middle of the conference is very bunched up, as you may expect. Cincinnati is far ahead, Louisville and Syracuse trail the pack, and not much separates the other five teams.

I don't think that winning a close call in Hawaii is cause for concern. Cincinnati has a date in the Orange Bowl with Virginia Tech, fresh off their statement victory over BC.

UConn's offensive output on Saturday was one of the sorriest that I've ever seen. A great effort by Donald Brown was wasted, as UConn showed that they deserve to be #105 in the nation in passing (they're #117 out of #119 in passing efficiency!). I can't be the only one thinking that Buffalo will upset them in Canada.

Louisville AD Tom Jurich: "We've just got to stay the course." Louisville fans are reacting to Thursday's loss exactly how you might expect.

Pitt might not have to worry about losing DC Phil Bennett, as KSU has decided to hire Maryland's Chris Cosh. After pounding UConn, next up is the Sun Bowl against Oregon State.

USF couldn't deal with the cold, and fell to WVU 13-7. They'll stay home (or rather, take a quick bus ride to the Tropicana Dome) and face former C-USA foe Memphis.

No one can quite agree on whether Skip Holtz will be the next Syracuse coach or not.

West Virginia's offense continued to sputter against USF, but their defense held on for the victory. UNC has been up and down this year, so the Meineke Bowl looks like it will be difficult to predict.

Read on for my All-Conference selections:



QB: Pat White (WVU)

Commentary: Honorable mentions to Tony Pike and, yes, Mike Teel.

RB: Donald Brown (UConn)
RB: LeSean McCoy (Pitt)

Commentary: Very easy decision, although Devine, Brinkley, and Anderson had strong years.

WR: Kenny Britt (RU)
WR: Mardy Gilyard (UC)

Commentary: When in doubt, I'm going to take the big play guy in Gilyard over the possession receiver in Goodman. Jonathan Baldwin was actually the second most impressive WR I saw this year.

TE: Nate Byham (Pitt)

Commentary: A weak year for receiving TEs in the conference. How can Kevin Brock receive consideration when he was benched at midseason. That being said, he was not playing terribly. Byham was underutilized in Pitt's offense, and was part of a strong rushing attack. The best TE in the conference is still Connor Barwin, and he was playing DE this year.

OT: William Beatty (UConn)
OT: George Bussey (UL)
OG: C.J. Davis (Pitt)
OG: Greg Isdaner (WVU)
C: Eric Wood (UL)

Commentary: It's hard to evaluate OL play by the naked eye, but when I tried to watch Trevor Canfield this year, I didn't get what all the hype was about. I really liked Ryan Stancheck when RU squared off with WVU earlier, but WVU fans are not happy with their line play in general, and he has not matched that level of play against Pitt or USF. Am I being too harsh on Anthony Davis here? He was more than good enough for a true sophomore, but RU's run blocking left much to be desired all season long.

K: Pat McAfee (WVU)

Commentary: I give him the edge over Connor Lee for two reasons. He attempted longer kicks, and he is also WVU's punter.

KR: Mardy Gilyard (UC)

Commentary: I was expecting to put Darius Butler here. I was surprised by how well Gilyard has done.

DL: Connor Barwin (UC)
DL: Cody Brown (UConn)
DL: Pete Tverdov (RU)
DL: Arthur Jones (SU)

This is not meant as a knock on George Selvie. I understand the argument that he has been double teamed a lot, and has battled through injuries. That does not change that Brown and especially Barwin were move effective pass rushers this season. That being said, it's very, very difficult for me to leave off Selvie or Greg Romeus in what is a very deep position.

LB: Scott McKillop (Pitt)
LB: Ryan D'Imperio (RU)
LB: Tyrone McKenzie (USF)

Commentary: I thought McKenzie struggled vs. RU, but the speedy LB was all over the field in other games. How can a Mortty Ivy or Scott Lutrus not receive recognition though? This is another deep position. Even though he's a junior, I hope D'Imperio gets selected for first team honors, because he was sensational this season. Kevin Malast might have played good enough to receive second team honors.

CB: Mike Mickens (UC)
CB: Woodny Turenne (UL)
S: DeAngelo Smith (UC)
S: Carlton Williams (USF)

Commentary: Smith saw some time at safety, so I feel comfortable including him. Am I being too harsh on Courtney Greene? I do honestly believe that he was forced into a role this season that he was ill-suited for, and could have been the Greene of the past few years if he had the opportunity. Greene did improve down the stretch, and looked to be his old self last Thursday. I didn't think that Darius Butler had the strongest year either.

P: Kevin Huber (UC)

Commentary: Don't fret, Rob Long. You and your underoos will get it next year.

Total count:

UC: 6
Pitt: 4
WVU: 3
RU: 3
UConn: 3
UL: 3
USF: 2
SU: 1