Big East: Where do we go from here?
Believe it or not, the most intriguing question this season in the Big East is not "will it be Virginia Tech or Miami this year?", or "will Pitt make some noise when it matters?". Wow, there seems to be a really bad echo in this room. The more interesting thing to consider is how the games this year will impact the future of Big East football going forward. I believe the doomsday forecasts about this Conference will be proven false. Yes, the Big East is losing two perennial powers, and yes, it could be a few seasons before any of the remaining teams will play for the BCS Championship. That being said, there are some moves that the Conference should make that would strengthen it in the long run.
There is cause for optimism, but the league is going to have to do something it hasn't done for a while - get off its rear end. Let's face it, the powers that be in the Big East were asleep at the switch on the ACC expansion plans. They should have seen it coming. It's now up to Commissioner Tranghese and his people to stop whining about the underhandedness of other conferences and get to work. The first order of business is expansion. Call it raiding if you want to, but college football is big business and everybody else is playing hardball.
Games last week showed us that Louisville and Cincinnati can win on the road in the Big East. They are quality football programs and would be fine additions in many ways. Both are strong academic institutions, have powerful basketball programs, and would bring in the Ohio Valley television market for both sports. These schools have hoards of loyal alums and fans that pack the stadiums for most games. Toledo, with an impressive win last week over Marshall should also be considered. The Rockets have gained ground in the last three years. It will be interesting to see how they fare against Pitt on Saturday and at Syracuse the following week.
At first glance, a lot of folks will think you can't replace Miami and Virginia Tech with C-USA teams and stay on the national stage. I disagree. One of the things that has been the Achilles heel of Big East football since its inception has been the lack of parity. Every year, the Conference has become a two team foot race with about three games that really matter. Those tilts notwithstanding, the only other games that generate interest and attendance are the non-conference games. This has been a problem for years. For most Big East teams, their biggest games are outside the conference. For home games, Miami will sell out every year for Florida State, or the Florida's and Tennessee's on the schedule. When the Big East teams come to town, you can sit wherever you want in the old Orange Bowl. Most likely spending much of the game thinking about all the historic games that have unfolded there, but you won't be at one that day. Boston College is a great program, but they haven't beaten Miami since the Flutie pass - nineteen years ago.
The Eagles do however have Notre Dame's number every few years, and those are the kind of wins that will maintain respect for the Big East. Their win in Happy Valley was another non-conference highlight. Then there are the Bowl records, the Big East has fared as well as any conference over the last five years. And while no one is calling Connecticut a national power yet, their trek toward the national scene has been faster than anyone expected. The fact is that these are good teams, just not against each other right now, or anytime in recent memory for that matter. There have been a lot of highlights in the cross conference games, but not many to even hope for inside the conference.
The point is that too many of the Big East intra-conference rivalries have become about as predictable as the American League East division race. Fresh new teams would bring an excitement that has been missing since, well, the beginning. A balance of strong quality programs would buoy the Conference and attendance would certainly follow. Message to the Big East: Start taking advantage of the opportunities right in front of you and stop lamenting about what never was.
Now this Pittsburgh. But whoever on here side BC is just one lucky pass away from Holy Cross being an archrival is correct. BC also has beaten Alabama everytime they have played. So between Pitt and BC its a toss up.