East Least Conference is the home of 5% of NCAA Division I Men’s’ Basketball teams. Yes, 16 teams make up the Big East Conference for men’s and women’s basketball. I’m sorry… wrong sport… but you can see why the Big East gets 8-9 bids to the NCAA tournament every year!! When you have 16 teams in your conference, it’s easier to make the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, right? Let’s get back to college football.
Virginia Tech and Miami left the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in 2004 (and Boston College made the switch in 2005). Is it a mere coincidence that teams like West Virginia, Rutgers, and the Universities of Connecticut and South Florida (the Hokie Guru’s #2 college team in the State of Florida) started winning more frequently in the last 3-4 years? The Hokie Guru thinks not. Let’s not kid ourselves; Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College would rule the current state of Big East football. And please, I really don’t care about the Big East Conference record in Bowl Championship Series games (even though it is much better than the ACC). The top three Big East teams would be .500 teams in the ACC. Let’s get real here.
The problem is the Big East would have the same level of parity at the top that the ACC has now. All parties are better off for the split; Virginia Tech is in a conference that fits its geographic footprint and the Big East and ACC have placed their institutions in larger media markets (Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Florida). Let’s begin the Big East rankings!!
1.) West Virginia – Like most sane individuals, West Virginia is not on my favorite list of teams. And it sounds like I have company in my dislike of the ‘Neers. Why? They are very good. They have the best quarterback in the Big East in Pat White (and certainly someone who is in the mix for the Heisman Trophy… White is one of the best quarterbacks in college football). West Virginia knows how to show it on the big stage; they beat Georgia in the 2005 Sugar Bowl and Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The ‘Neers can be an elite team this year and can possibly make the national championship game if they go undefeated. The one thing that could stop the ‘Neers is coaching; the Guru is worried about a first year coach (Bill Stewart) taking the keys to drive the Big East’s elite luxury car. Something tells the Guru that there’s going to be some bumps along the way. There will not be a never-ending dream for the ‘Neers, which means that the West Virginia police will continue to prosecute couch burners. Where else but West Virginia?
2.) South Florida – Jim Leavitt walked away from the Alabama Crimson Tide head coaching job. That tells you all you need to know about the South Florida Bulls. South Florida is a sleeping giant in the fertile recruiting ground of Tampa/St. Petersburg and Jim Leavitt is a program builder. Matt Grothe may be the most underrated quarterback in the country. He is a winner. The problem is that Grothe needs a running back; he cannot be the main rusher for the Bulls. If the Bulls can find a guy that can get approximately 100 yards per game and 25-30 carries (and Matt Hayes tell us that the Bulls have this guy in Mike Ford), they will WIN THE BIG EAST. And this means that GovLoop and the Guru will be going to the Orange Bowl together. It helps that they have George Selvie, who is the best defensive end in the country. Yes, you heard it here first; the Bulls have a real shot to win the Big East. The Hokie Guru will also pick his second upset of the college season; the Bulls will beat the University of Kansas Jayhawks. That game is on Friday, September 12, 2008. What a perfect day to use your AWS day!!
3.) Rutgers – No more Ray Rice. The Guru, however, thinks that Rutgers’ Greg Schiano is a better coach than Pittsburgh’s Dave Wannstedt and that prompted the #3 ranking. As Mark Schlabach reported, Mike Teel will lead their passing attack this year, which will be pretty good.
4.) Pittsburgh – I have a very, very hard time putting Pitt at #4. ESPN.com expert, Mark Schlabach, has LeSean McCoy as the best running back in the Big East. The Panthers have many returning starters and Wanny has a boatload of talent (I just have concerns about Wanny as coach). Hokie Guru Note: Mark Schlabach and I defer on our rankings of the Big East. I’m sure that GovLoop likes this fact since he is a USF Bulls homer.
5.) Connecticut – I have to be honest; I know zero about the UConn Huskies. They have only been in NCAA Division I football for a short time. I know more about Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s No Child Left Behind lawsuit than I do about Husky football.
6.) Louisville – Hunter Cantwell must be happy that he doesn’t play in the ACC on a regular basis (GO HOKIES!!).
7.) Cincinnati – I like Brian Kelly, the head coach of the Bearcats. If you notice a theme here in some of my comments, the Big East has some great coaching. Kelly is another guy that just wins everywhere he goes and I thought he would get the Michigan job. The problem for the Bearcats is that they recruit in the same territory as Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State. I still see a bowl game for Cincy. Papa John’s Bowl, anyone? Seriously, though, the Bearcats are in good shape with Brian Kelly at the helm. You don’t see Ohio State on Cincy’s schedule anymore, because quite frankly, the Buckeyes are afraid to play the Bearcats.
8.) Syracuse – Lacrosse anyone? The Maxwell School is one of the best public affairs graduate schools in the country. Notice how the Hokie Guru isn’t talking about football when it comes to the ‘Cuse, but is trying to stay positive. His mother has always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all so the Hokie Guru must stop here 🙂