Stacking the Schedule
Connecticut coach Randy Edsall felt a mixture of elation and relief when the school and state legislators signed off on scheduling a series with Notre Dame. Lawmakers had opposed the Huskies playing "home" games against Notre Dame in out-of-state stadiums rather than at the state-funded Rentschler Field, but they agreed to go forward with two contracts that feature seven games between 2009 and 2017.
"I never thought it was going to be such a big deal to do that," Edsall said.
Edsall thinks the hassle of getting to the games will be much less severe. Though Connecticut wanted to host the games at Rentschler, matchups with the Irish at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., and a to-be-built stadium in New York or northern New Jersey have advantages.
"The easternmost portion of our state, the boundary to Gillette Stadium is probably 30 minutes," Edsall said. "And if you go to New York, take the southernmost boundary, which is Fairfield County, and that might be within an hour.
"We expand our brand and expand our program and reach out to a few more people."
Now that Notre Dame is all but finalized, Edsall would like to schedule games with Boston College, which he called a "natural rival," as well as Army and Penn State.
The next time Cincinnati's soccer team needs a new goalkeeper, Connor Barwin might get a call.
Barwin has built a reputation on campus for filling in wherever needed. When the depleted Bearcats basketball team needed bodies after a tumultuous coaching transition, Barwin suited up.
He was called upon again this spring to fill a hole at defensive end and moved across the line of scrimmage from tight end, where he had been competing for a starting job. The athletic Barwin has made a smooth transition to defense and likely will enter the fall as a starter.
"Connor Barwin brings us great energy," coach Brian Kelly said. "One of the most important things for us is to establish a pass rush with just four down, not having to bring pressure."
• Running back Jason Gwaltney
is hoping to rejoin West Virginia as a walk-on after resolving his legal issues and trying to restore his academic standing.
Gwaltney's attorney, Bob Martin, told the Charleston Gazette that Gwaltney pleaded no contest April 21 to a minor charge relating to an arrest for speeding and underage drinking. Martin said Gwaltney will attend an underage drinking class and is studying at a community college to gain the credits needed for readmission to West Virginia.
A decorated prep recruit, Gwaltney left school in 2005 and was briefly reinstated in 2006 before being dismissed.
"If he can get his eligibility back, after all he's put into it, everybody deserves a second chance," Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart told the newspaper. "Jason or anybody else in our program will have to follow all of our guidelines as far as going to class and being accountable. If he does all of that, certainly we'd welcome him."
• Bill Stull
emerged from the spring as Pitt's top quarterback, but he will continue to be pushed by dynamic junior college transfer Greg Cross
as well as Pat Bostick
and Kevan Smith
All four quarterbacks fared well in the spring game, combining to complete 25 of 40 passes for 251 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Stull led the offense on a 65-yard touchdown march on the game's first possession, while Cross dazzled fans with a 36-yard pass to Maurice Williams
and a 29-yard scamper on third-and-20.
• Syracuse's spring game didn't do much to alleviate concerns about a rushing attack that ranked next to last nationally in 2007. With the scrimmage limited to 37 plays because of injuries, the Orange mustered just 56 rushing yards on 23 carries. Though the offensive line struggled in the game, players and coaches pointed to signs of progress throughout the spring.
"[We've] gassed the defense on numerous occasions running the ball, up the gut of the defense, making good adjustments on their defense," quarterback Andrew Robinson
told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
"You might not have seen it today, but I've been seeing it for the past 14 practices all spring, us running the ball well."
• Rutgers landed one of the most decorated recruits in program history when quarterback Tom Savage
verbally committed to the school April 18.
A high school junior, Savage will arrive next fall and immediately will compete to succeed Mike Teel
, who enters his final season as the starter. Savage selected Rutgers over Georgia, Miami, Penn State and Louisville.
Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano announced that defensive tackle Vantrise Studivant will transfer from the school. Wide receiver Keith Taylor
and tight end Jeff Minemyer
both have decided to end their careers because of injuries.
• Louisville gained approval from the state of Kentucky to go forward with its $72 million expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The expansion, scheduled to be finished by the 2010 season, increases the stadium capacity to more than 60,000.