Sentinel college football writer Matt Murschel answers your questions about the college football season. To submit a question for future mailbags, email, Facebook or tweet them.
Q: Sure hope UCF can get in on the conference movement with Big East looking like a sinking ship. The TV reports seem to mention South Florida and Louisville getting consideration for the ACC. Any chance UCF can get into mix? – Kurt (via e-mail)
A: UCF officials are staying committed to the Big East – at this moment – but that’s not to say that somewhere down the road they may change their minds. I think the ACC would be interesting for both UCF and USF. It would give the league a strangle-hold on the state of Florida in regards to markets and recruiting and provide somewhere of an insurance policy of Florida State would choose to leave someday. Don’t discount the Big 12 as a possible future destination for the Knights. I’ve been told several times that if the Big 12 were to decide to expand, it should consider UCF and USF. It would provide the league with a footprint in Florida while giving the conference two top 20 television markets as well. While I don’t see anything happening in the near future, with all of the movement going on, it’s something to keep an eye on.
Q: As a long time fan and alumni of UCF, I am perplexed by their commitment (at least in interviews) to the Big East. Your column was enlightening in that it makes sense that if the basketball schools drop the Big East to form their own league then UCF would be able to find a better alternative, and NOT pay the $5 million exit fee. In your opinion is this likely? They are just waiting for everything to fall in place? – Donald (via e-mail)
A: Like I mentioned earlier, I think UCF officials are committed to the Big East for now, but they have to be keeping their eyes and ears on what is going on especially now that Louisville has accepted an invitation to the ACC. Connecticut is really the only straw holding the Big East together at this point and if they ever decided to leave, it think it would be very hard to convince a network like NBC Sports or Fox that the remaining schools provide a valuable enough option for a major TV deal. That’s when the basketball schools could get involved and decide to break away and make a move for their own hoops-only league. If that happened, UCF would have to look elsewhere, maybe going back to Conference USA or looking into the ACC or Big 12 if they were looking to expand. It’s a lot of what-ifs right now, but I’m sure behind the scenes, everyone is keeping a close watch.
A: No one thought this Notre Dame team would be playing for a national title at the beginning of the year. I mean, they weren’t even ranked, but Brian Kelly has done a great job getting the players to buy into what he wants to do with the program. It may have taken some time, but this team has looked like one of the most cohesive teams in college football. Top it off with the play of linebacker Manti Te’o and Notre Dame has found the secret to success: defense. For awhile there, the school made moves to hire coaches who were offensive based (Charlie Weis, anyone?). Even Brian Kelly is known for his offensive coaching style, but he quickly figured out that defense will help you win championships. We’ll see if that happens on Jan. 7.
Q: If it comes down to Bowling Green or Ohio, which school gets left out? – Andy (via Twitter)
A: The Mid-American Conference has three primary bowl tie-ins – Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, GoDaddy.com Bowl, and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – as well as four secondary bowl agreements –BBVA Compass Bowl , Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl and Heart of Dallas Bowl. There is a possibility all seven bowl eligible teams making it into the postseason. However, there are currently 70 teams that are bowl eligible and two teams – Connecticut and Pittsburgh – that can still become bowl eligible this weekend, which would most likely bump a MAC or Sun Belt team out of the mix. My guess would be that Central Michigan at 6-6 would be the first to go. At 8-4, I think both teams are safe at the moment.
Don't forget about Matt's Murschel's weekly mail bag. If you have any college football questions you would like answered or just issues or players you would like his thoughts on please email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.