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Scattershot Thoughts From the Big East Clambake

The Big East Clambake, held on the eve of formal Big East Media Day, is without question one of the most unique gatherings in college sports. Rather than giving limited access to the league's biggest stars and sequestering them, the Big East annually gives those who cover the conference a chance to mingle with them in an informal, party-like atmosphere. I can't thank Chuck Sullivan and the Big East enough for credentialing me and Big East Coast Bias for the event. With my first clambake in the books, here's a scattershot of reactions from the event (bear in mind, this is not a formal event for interviewing and Q &A, so there was little of official value to gain, just opportunities to meet and see the players, coaches, and administrators as regular people struggling to eat lobster and clams).

  • All eight Big East coaches are engaging and interesting men. All but one of the coaches took at least five minutes to speak with me one on one on just about anything but football. The coaches all seem larger than life on television, but they're just men. But, that's a good thing. It's a nice reminder that these are people that we as fans and analysts often rip without a second thought. It was charming to see Pittsburgh coach Todd Graham and his wife Penni, who treated me and our table like we were the stars, interacting across the grounds with what appeared to be some oft-practiced hand signals. Every coach that I spoke to was sincere, answered virtually anything I asked, and even shared things about themselves. I enjoyed seeing the human side of all of them.
  • I can't say enough good things about Penni Graham. We had the privelege of sitting with her and her son for dinner and she treated us like royalty. She asked me all about the site, asked me for my Twitter name so she could start following me, introduced me to her husband, and shared numerous stories about being the wife of a coach. She was fantastic and is a real asset to Pittsburgh and the Big East.
  • Pittsburgh's EJ Borghetti was also extremely accomodating tonight. We'd interacted several times on Twitter, but it was nice to meet him in person. He's a class act.
  • All of the players that were there (the Louisville players' flight was cancelled ) were funny, interesting, and respectful. All of them are wonderful representatives of their universities.
  • I had the privelege to meet Andrea Adelson from ESPN, Pete Thamel from the New York Times, and a handful of other reporters that I've been long-distance fans of for quite some time and I am pleased to say that all were very courteous and engaging people.
  • I was able to spend about 10 minutes one on one with BCS Chairman Bill Hancock and it might surprise you to know that he was the friendliest and most accommodating man under the tent. He answered all of my questions about the Big East and the future of the BCS and even picked my  brain about expansion and full cost of attendance scholarships. He's a very smart guy that is where he is for a reason. Kudos to him for taking time out for a little guy, even if I do still want the BCS to die.
  • The initial media poll is now out. The media's prediction is 1. West Virginia 2. Pittsburgh, 3. South Florida 4. Syracuse 5. Cincinnati 6. Connecticut 7. Louisville 8. Rutgers. My reactions are: I wonder if Syracuse would be fourth with the news of Marcus Sales' arrest for felony drug charges. I think UConn is too high while Louisville is too low. You can't really argue with the top three.
  • I suck at eating lobster.

Tomorrow is the formal media day with conference commissioner John Marinatto addressing reporters at 9:00 am. You can watch the address at We'll have a steady stream of posts tomorrow as we have a chance to talk to coaches and players in a more formal setting so check back to Big East Coast Bias throughout the day for news.