Closing Time

Hello all for the first time in about a month. My move is complete, so from now until eternity, or whatever the adult version of eternity is, I will be running Down the Drive as a part of SBnation. It is probably a touch presumptuous to implore you to update your bookmarks, but update you bookmarks. Commence semisonic.

Something New

An all to familiar refrain must be sung again by me. Sorry for the delay between posts. But this is a time of great transitional chaos for myself, my career and this blog. I have an announcement forthcoming about my future plans for this blog but untill things are alligned properly I will hold of on that until it is official. So the next time I post in this space it will come with a link to this blogs new home.

Kenbrell Thompkins Out For 2010

So Kenbrell is out for this year. That is simultaniously a shame and not that big a deal. It is a shame because Bearcat fans will have to wait another year to see this kind of talent don the revered #1 shirt.

But it isn’t a big deal for one main reason. While there are plenty of questions and concerns about the UC team going into the fall, depth at receiver was not one of them. Armon Binns, Vidal Hazelton and DJ Woods already comprise what is arguably the best receiving trio in the country. The more interesting thing for me is that sitting out this year won’t cost Kenbrell the usual mandatory year for a tramsfer. Thompkins would have been nice to have in the fold for this season, but having him for two years starting in 2011 is a nice consolation prize at the end of a very strange process.

Florida WR Picks Bearcats

Chris Moore a 6’0″ 170 WR from Jefferson High School in Tampa Florida has pledged to UC. He becomes the 10th member of this class and the third and most likely final WR in this class. Moore had over a dozen offers and was reported to settle on a final two of Michigan State and UC a few weeks before casting his lot with the Bearcats. With Moore in the fold UC has addressed their need at WR with a couple of guys who play in the slot with Shaq Washington and now Moore, and a bigger vertical threat with Alex Chisum. Jones and Co still have some work to do in the 2011 class. There are between 8-10 spots left in this class and there are still some positions of major need. Jones needs at least two RB’s, two LB’s and probably another defensive end and then a safety to meet the need for this class.

Pre Season Big East Poll and News

The Big East Media Days are taking place in Newport, Rhode Island this week. The biggest news is that the Big East is now catering policy to match the desires of gamblers across the nation by issuing weekly injury reports. Well that and the announcement of the pre season media poll which is as follows.

1. Pittsburgh (22 first-place votes) 190
2. Cincinnati 142
West Virginia (1) 142
4. Connecticut (1) 131
5. Rutgers 99
6. USF 79
7. Syracuse 41
8. Louisville 40

Not a very surprising outcome. Is it a touch disrespectful to discount the two time champions of the league by voting them second? Yes. Sure, if you want to take it that way. But the thing of it is that on paper that is probably where UC should be. I would predict UC to finish between 4th and 2nd before I would predict a treble of Big East crowns, but that is just me.

Anyway my posts this week will be a touch sporadic on account of having to move, which will eat up most of my time this week. I will be back in full effect Monday when I will begin to wrap up my series looking at UC’s opponents. Hopefully before the team heads off to higher ground next week.

A Look At Syracuse

This remains the image of Syracuse Football over the last five or so years for many College Football fans, but their may be some good news ahead for Orange fans.

The night is always darkest just before the dawn

That seems to be the general theme around Syracuse these days, or at the very least, my conception of the things taking place in upstate New York. Doug Marrone went 4-8 in his first year at Cuse. That matched the best season that Greg Robinson could muster in his four years at the helm. There are also signs that things are really starting to change in and around the program as well. The first indication of it was the strange and melodramatic events surrounding Mike Williams quiting the Syracuse Football team in the face of another round of suspension. Here was one of the top receivers in the country, the primary offensive weapon on a team almost wholly devoid of them, driven to quit by the strictures and discipline of new regime. That as much as anything else signaled the culture change that was taking place up there.

There is plenty of room for optimism going forward, primarily because Marrone gets the Syracuse program and tradition in a way that Robinson never really did. The record last year was 4-8, and when you take a look the schedule two games stand out Northwestern and Rutgers. The other two wins came at the expense of Akron and the fearsome Black Bears of Maine, not the most resounding victories in the world. But it is the other two that stick out. The Northwestern game was won with a field goal on the final play of the game.

Very dramatic stuff right there. That game was the first genuine bit of good news for Cuse in years and the first signifier that things were a bit different after being dismantled by Penn State and losing to Minnesota in very Robinsonesqu fashion.

The real shocker, and arguably the most surprising result of the Big East season, was their rather authoritative beat down of Rutgers. 31-13 and it really wasn’t that close. Cuse had an almost 300 yard advantage in terms of total yards and limited Tom Savage to just 66 yards and picked him twice, easily the low point in a stellar freshman season from Savage. That win had to be incredibly savory for Syracuse fans who in the midst of their Robinson death spiral watched Rutgers rise and usurp their position as the preeminent Football program in the Tri State.

Things are defiantly looking up for Syracuse. They have a chance at a bowl game for the first time since 2004. Mind you, not a great chance, I wouldn’t even go as far as assuming that they will make a bowl, but there is a chance. The process of digging themselves out of the Big East cellar in a meaningful way has begun in earnest. But there is a ways to go. The Orange haven’t won multiple Big East games in a season since 2004, they have exactly one Big East road win in the last five years, (@ Louisville in 2007) last years two game winning streak was the longest in four seasons. It is hard to fathom just how far into the abyss the Orange descended the last half a decade or so, but it was very deep.

The trick of it is that while they went down, the power structure of the conference in Football changed completely. UC, USF and Lousiville moved over from C-USA and became fixtures in the top half of the standings, though Louisville slipped a lot over the last 3 seasons. Locally Rutgers became Americas darling during the 2006 season and they became everyones program in New York City and have since become the biggest program in the Tri State area. Meanwhile, Connecticut, one of Syracuse’s primary rivals in Basketball, actually won a share of the conference in Football, which was an incredible development from my perspective and must have been difficult for Orange fans to handle. So yeah, from a Syracuse perspective the whole world has gone mad. The main question to an outside observer is can the Orange find their way, their place, in the new order of Big East Football? And perhaps most importantly, what is that place? Things are unquestionably improving, but there are still more questions than answers surrounding the Orange Football program and they still aren’t out of the woods yet. Even if the forest is clearing.

Brandon Carswel Staying at USC

Word is going around that Brandon Carswell is staying put at USC. I can not attest to the voracity of the rumors but the smoking gun as it were seems to be this post over at conquest chronicles. Generally speaking those guys are very well informed and stay on top of all things USC related so I assume that it is beyond mere rumor. Honestly I am not surprised he stayed. His potential move to UC seemed a bit odd for a guy who needs to log major minutes right away if he has any intention of playing on Sundays. USC has snaps and catches available for their receivers this fall while UC has one of the best and deepest WR groups in the country. The starting group of DJ Woods, Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton has been pretty well set in stone since January 2nd and Carswell had little chance to unseat any of them.