Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike has always had a weight problem - no, that that kind.
For years, the 6-foot-6 senior has tried to put on weight, without success. After the Bearcats won the Big East and lost in the Orange Bowl last season, Pike decided to force himself to bulk up so he has a better chance of absorbing the pounding a quarterback takes.
It wasn't easy.
``We did some protein shakes,'' Pike said. ``Actually, there were 2,200 calories per shake, and we'd do one in the morning and one at night. Even with those, it was hard to put the weight on. I can eat a ton and not gain anything, miss a meal and lose some weight.''
Pike also spent a lot of time in the weight room, looking to get stronger and avoid the setbacks he suffered last year. He broke his left (nonpassing) forearm in the fourth game of the season, but returned three games later.
``It was evident that to be more durable during the season, I had to put some weight on,'' Pike said. ``That's where we started. To be able to play 13 games and be in every game, I'm going to have to put more weight on to be able to absorb more hits.''
All the weight work and the protein shakes helped him put on 20 pounds, going from 210 to 230 as the Bearcats get ready to open the season at Rutgers on Monday. Pike likes the way he feels now.
``You don't want to put on the weight and lose some mobility,'' he said. ``As we've gone through camp, I didn't feel any different on the field. I just feel a little stronger.''
POINT GUARD EYES: Syracuse's gamble to make former Duke point guard Greg Paulus the starter at quarterback isn't a gamble in offensive coordinator Rob Spence's eyes.
As offensive coordinator at Hofstra a decade ago, Spence tutored Giovanni Carmazzi, who threw for more than 9,000 yards in college. Carmazzi was a football and basketball standout at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., and was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2000.
Spence also has coached at Toledo, where he mentored Bruce Gradkowski, a former star point guard at Pittsburgh's Seton-La Salle High School. Gradkowski, who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and now plays for the Oakland Raiders, set an NCAA record by completing 68.2 percent of his collegiate passes. Colt Brennan, whom former Syracuse coach Greg Robinson wanted to recruit (higher-ups at SU nixed that idea), has since eclipsed that record at Hawaii.
n State and Northwestern. All three played in bowl games last season, but at least the Orange play seven of their first eight games at home in the Carrier Dome.
COACHES CORNER: Saturday's meeting between Liberty and West Virginia will be the first between the schools, but not the head coaches.
Liberty's Danny Rocco was the associate head coach at Virginia and Bill Stewart was an assistant for the Mountaineers when the Cavaliers played West Virginia in the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. Both attended midnight Mass together on Christmas Eve.
On Rocco's first day on the job at Liberty in 2005, Stewart stopped by in Lynchburg, Va., to congratulate Rocco. Stewart had been on a recruiting trip.
``I went in gave him a big hug and told him how proud of him I was and how I hope he would do great - never knowing that we would play,'' Stewart said. ``I am going to pull for Danny Rocco most of the time, but this Saturday is not one of those times.''
Rocco's father, Frank Rocco Sr., was a high school coach in Pittsburgh and later an assistant to Joe Paterno at Penn State. The younger Rocco remembers Stewart's recruiting visits to western Pennsylvania.
``I've had great admiration for coach Stewart for quite some time,'' Rocco said.
o holds the school record for career points.
Senior Scott Kozlowski has the punting job back after losing it to McAfee in the middle of his redshirt freshman season.
Redshirt freshman Tyler Bitancurt won the duties on field goals and extra points and Western Washington transfer Josh Lider will handle kickoffs.
But like every other position, coach Bill Stewart says things could change if someone isn't doing their job.
``I hope they will be good, but I don't know 'til I see them,'' Stewart said.
REPLACING SHADY: Apparently, it's going to take at least two or three players for Pittsburgh to replace former running back LeSean ``Shady'' McCoy.
Freshman Dion Lewis will get the first crack on Saturday when the Panthers open the season against Youngstown State, though Chris Burns also could see some action.
``We're not going in with any type of rotation system written down or locked in,'' said coach Dave Wannstedt. ``Dion will start and we'll see how it's going with Dion and then make a decision as the game goes on.''
The freshmen will be hard-pressed to duplicate the success of McCoy, who rushed for 1,488 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago.
Wannstedt admits there will be some jitters when the new guys take the field, but he doesn't doubt they'll be productive once they take that first hit.
don't have experience and they need to play,'' he said. ``There's no easy way of gaining that without going out there and doing it.''
VOTE FOR CHANGE: The Big East didn't land a single team in the preseason Top 25 in either the AP or the coaches poll.
Don't blame it on South Florida coach Jim Leavitt.
Leavitt voted for four Big East teams in the coaches' Top 25, and could have made it ``five or six'' if he'd wanted to.
He blamed the conspicuous absence of a Big East team in the poll on the parity in the league and the fact no Big East team finished in the final Top 10 a year ago.
``Look at nonconference schedule and the big wins we had last year and the bowl games the last few years,'' Leavitt said. ``We have so many guys get drafted and get drafted high in (the NFL) in the Big East.''
Leavitt would prefer the polls not be released until the season is a few weeks old so coaches could have a better sense of where teams are at.
``I've got to watch games and I've got to hear about scores and see how people perform,'' he said. ``That's the only way you can really judge how good somebody is.''
The Bulls host Wofford in the season opener this weekend.
REVAMPED RUTGERS: The biggest sign to Rutgers coach Greg Schiano that football finally matters on the New Jersey campus? Student tickets are suddenly a hot commodity.
nnati will be the first at Rutgers Stadium since the stadium expanded from 42,500 seats to 52,454.
The seats should be filled, particularly after 10,000 students gobbled up tickets in the hours after they went on sale.
``You're talking about 10,000 students in one day gone, that's pretty exciting stuff,'' Schiano said. ``It's exciting if you go out and play well and win, you don't want to send all these excited people home with a loss.''
JAMBOREE TIME?: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe thinks college football would be wise to borrow a page from the high school game to liven up the sometimes humdrum nature of training camp.
``I'd love to be able to do what some of the high schools do and have one or two scrimmages against another opponent or have a spring game where you get to go against somebody else,'' Kragthorpe said.
Under those rules Kragthorpe said he'd like to invite a team such as Indiana down for drills one year, then take the short drive north to Bloomington the following year to return the favor.
``I think it'd be a great way to do it,'' Kragthorpe said. ``That's the hardest part for our players is the long wait between seasons, they're excited and their anticipation level is extremely high.''
The Cardinals will be looking to bounce back from their first losing season of the millennium on Saturday when they host Indiana State.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati, John Raby in Charleston, W.Va., John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y., and Will Graves in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.

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