Off-the-record quotes from Big East coaches about their rivals.
Each year we ask college football coaches to tell us what they really think about the other teams in their conference. But we don't want the cliche'd press conference platitudes, so we ask them to give us their quotes off-the-record and anonymously. Here are this year's quotes in alphabetical order for each team in the Big East.
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Cincinnati
"A lot of their success was Brian Kelly. Everybody runs a variation of the same thing, but Brian Kelly knew when to call the right play. He knew how to get the ball to the playmakers in the right spots. And their defense just kept everything in front of them, which kept them in the game to the point where the offense could win it. Butch (Jones) will do a great job, but there is just a transition period. The offenses are similar. They just have to be a little more sound on defense."
"They lost a little of the swagger last year."
"I thought going into last year that Zach Collaros was the best quarterback in the conference. I’d still say he is one of the top two or three at worst. Dual-threat guy. Very accurate. They just need to get the nuances of Butch’s offense."
"For anyone who was foolish enough to think the Bearcats would not drop off after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame, how smart do you feel now?"
"I don’t see Cincinnati returning to the Brian Kelly days anytime soon, but I don’t see another four-win season either.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Connecticut
“Randy Edsall bolted after the Fiesta Bowl and left UConn for Maryland because it was his dream job? Wow, okay, I guess so. Now the Huskies have Paul Pasqualoni as their head coach. He obviously had success at Syracuse but he hasn’t been coaching in the college ranks since 2004 and is a little long in the tooth (62 when the season starts). Does that matter? I’m not sure, but we’ll find out soon enough."
"They lose two guys who were real playmakers for them on defense — Scott Lutrus and Lawrence Wilson — but Paul did a smart thing by keeping six assistants. That helps with the continuity. But they still don’t have offensive playmakers that scare you."
"I don’t know why (Edsall) left. Tough to say. After 10 years at one spot, it’s probably good to move on."
"Jordan Todman was a difference-maker. He was strong, he could carry the ball 30 times, but he also had home run speed. That is hard to get, a guy who can do both of those things. It will be tough to replace him. He was a great player. I don’t know how you do it.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Louisville
“I think Charlie Strong does a great job. They know what they want to do. They know what they want to be. They are going to get better."
"That is the best job in the league. They have a great fanbase. They have a great stadium."
"They are a quarterback away from being where they were under Bobby Petrino."
"I don’t think they’re going to win a lot of games with Will Stein (at quarterback), so they almost have to go with the freshman (Teddy Bridgewater). That’s going to take some time, especially since their running game won’t be as good."
"With Bilal Powell gone at running back, the Cardinals need senior Victor Anderson to stay healthy and return to his form as a freshman when he was their top rusher."
"Louisville doesn’t have the talent to win the Big East but another bowl game is attainable. The only way to improve on last year’s season would be defeating rival Kentucky."
"They can’t be better this year without Powell and with their top two quarterbacks gone. … Charlie did a tremendous job with this team last year, maybe the best in the league.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Pittsburgh
“It’s not a great environment there. It’s a pro town. The fans love the Steelers. Unless you are really, really good or you are playing a big-time opponent, it’s tough to draw big crowds. It can be a little sterile."
"They had as much talent as any team in the league last year. When Dion Lewis got hurt, that hurt them. They lost that big-play threat in the backfield."
"Everyone is curious to see how things play out in Pittsburgh under Todd Graham with the hurry-up spread he’s going to on offense. But here’s the thing: It’s not like it’s West Virginia. It’s not like it’s Cincinnati. Because they haven’t recruited the kids to fit that offense yet. That doesn’t mean they can’t be good, but they don’t have the receivers to do it yet, and they don’t have the quarterback to do it yet."
"Tino Sunseri was inconsistent at quarterback last year, so a big question is will he be able to run the new offense."
"I hated to see Dave Wannstedt get fired. He’s one of the better guys in the business.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Rutgers
"Rutgers snuck up on some people for a few years, but they are not sneaking up on people anymore."
"The word is that Greg Schiano is a hard guy to work for. Administration people say that too, not just coaches."
"In the last year or two, they didn’t get as many good players. They struggled a bit in New Jersey. And they weren’t doing as well in South Florida. That leveled off a little bit for them."
"They have lost some good players in recent years. Look at the first-round picks they have had. It’s tough to replace those guys."
"Mohamed Sanu is good, but Jeremy (Deering) was just as good running the Wildcat stuff. Their biggest issue was settling on a triggerman. Chas (Dodd) is a little bit limited. If Tom (Savage) had stuck there, that might have given them the opportunity to utilize the wide receivers a bit more. They had to do so much Wildcat stuff, and that can become a little bit predictable."
"Greg Schiano finally shook some things up adding new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti in place of Kirk Ciarrocca, who directed one of the worst offenses in the nation last year.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: South Florida
“There were some changes (with the coaching change). Schematically on offense, their system was more of a system and less freelance by the quarterback. Defensively, they got after it with both staffs. They were really salty on defense."
"I think it is one of the best jobs in the Big East because of the talent pool for recruiting. Being in a BCS conference made that program legitimate to recruits. They beat Florida State at Florida State (in 2009). They beat Miami last year. It’s obviously a great job. It’s not just a big fanbase, as far as a collegiate-type fan."
"The fact South Florida won a bowl game wasn’t a big surprise, but the way the Bulls finished was. Under Jim Leavitt, USF would always falter down the stretch. But they finished strong, winning five of its last seven."
"They probably have the best athlete in the league in (quarterback) B.J. Daniels and he worries you, but he still has the same issues with mistakes and decision-making. I’m sure he will be better in the second year with Skip Holtz, who really does a nice job on offense.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: Syracuse
“I am extremely impressed by the job that Doug Marrone and his staff have done. You could see that the first year he was there, his kids played hard. They weren’t the most talented group, but they played hard from beginning to end."
"The Carrier Dome is a little bit overrated. It can become a tough place again if they can get it back to what it was, but it’s not one of the toughest places to play."
"It’s going to be tough for them to get it back to where they are the dominant team in the league. They are making strides. I just think back (in the 1980s and ’90s), they had a stranglehold on the New York area, and they could go into Chicago and get a Donovan McNabb. They have a tougher time getting those guys now."
"Their defense got better last year. Their players knew more of what the coaches were asking of them. (Defensive coordinator) Scott Shafer does a great job bringing blitzes from all over the field."
"Ryan Nassib did a nice job last year. But he can’t carry an offense. That’s where they’re going to miss (tailback Delone) Carter.”
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: West Virginia
“There’s no question this is the team to beat on paper. But you don’t know how the coaching situation is going to play out."
"Of all the offseason moves, I am most eager to see how Dana Holgorsen works out. While he was at Oklahoma State, the Cowboys were nearly unstoppable."
"I don’t think Holgorsen will have the talent to work with at quarterback, running back and wide receiver like he did at OSU with (Brandon) Weeden, (Kendall) Hunter and (Justin) Blackmon. Still, I think they’re the team to beat in the Big East."
"Tavon Austin is a dangerous receiver — the type they always seem to have."
"They have continued to recruit well, so they should be able to fill in the holes defensively. But their offense will carry them this year."
What Big East Coaches Are Saying About: TCU
“They’re starting to get the top echelon of recruits in Texas and on a national level as well. They’re going to be able to have some guys just waiting in the wings."
"Defensively, their guys know exactly what to do. That’s why they play sound and fast. They’re always going to be physical and their linebackers are going to make plays for them."
"When you play against their speed on defense, you’ve just got to pound them. For as good as they played against Wisconsin, Wisconsin was able to pound them some."
"(Andy) Dalton was very good. You see on film at some of the minute stuff that he did — within one second of the snap, he knew where the ball was going. He had a great feel for where the ball was supposed to go and that kind of stuff you can’t defend. It takes time to learn that stuff. I just hope that when the new quarterback learns that stuff, it’ll be after they’ve played us."
"When you try to contend with their speed on offense, you’ve got to mix it up. You can’t show them the same looks every single time because then they play faster when they know what’s coming.”
Other Candid Coaches' Quotes: