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Greetings from Newport ...



Hard to believe this is the fourth year I've made the late-summer trip to Rhode Island for the Big East's preseason football media gathering here. Flew up on the same flight from Tampa as USF's contingent of four players -- receiver Taurus Johnson, running back Ben Williams and linebackers Tyrone McKenzie and Brouce Mompremier -- and will see them again tonight at the league's annual clambake, a big meet-and-greet before the formal interviews Tuesday morning.

The most likely national story to come from here will be West Virginia, which almost assuredly will be picked to win the league when the conference's preseason media poll is announced. Quarterback Pat White, a legitimate top-five Heisman contender, will be a huge draw, as well first-year coach Bill Stewart, who took over the team in December after Rich Rodriguez left for the Michigan job. I put USF second on my ballot, but I think the Bulls will likely show up in third, just a few points behind Pittsburgh. Another Big East blogger and balloter, the Louisville Courier-Journal's Brian Bennett, believes USF will show up second in the poll. We'll have plenty of time Tuesday to reflect on who's overrated and underrated based on the preseason picks ...

--'s Mark Schlabach is here in Newport, and the New York Post is reporting that the Big East is exploring deals to have Army and Navy each play four games each season against Big East opponents, which would somewhat solve the problem of the conference's three-home, four-away (or vice versa) unbalanced schedule.

-- Had you heard this? I can't remember reporting it, but USF will play host to the Big East men's soccer semifinals and championship game on Nov. 14 and 16. USF, of course, is in the middle of major renovations to its track facility, but the Bulls will continue to be busy hosts in the next year, with the men's and women's tennis championships back in Tampa in April and the men's and women's golf in eastern Pasco County at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club the same week.

-- The news that USF has changed its 2010 opener from Samford to Stony Brook has drawn a few barbs from the Orlando Sentinel, which wonders why USF won't play Central Florida, but schedules a nearly anonymous team from New York. Again, the more legitimate gripe from there is that USF scheduled a home-and-home with Western Kentucky -- that's the game essentially displacing UCF on the schedule. Stony Brook isn't the 2010 equivalent of UCF; it's the 2010 equivalent of Tennessee-Martin, and once a team has a I-AA on the schedule, it's silly to quibble over the strength of that team. UCF's opening with South Carolina State in a month or so -- it's what teams do to get an extra home game where they can. Western Kentucky or Ball State? They're plainly less of a direct risk for the Bulls, that's all.

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:38pm]


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