The Big East has yet to determine divisional alignments for the 2013-2014 season when the conference expands to 12 teams for football, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.
At the Big East Media Kickoff earlier this week, associate commissioner Nick Carparelli told the Star-Ledger that discussions have progressed but the league has yet to reach a conclusion. The league previously announced that it will have its first ever championship game next season at the home site of the division winner with the highest winning percentage.
Five teams – Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Central Florida – will join the Big East next season for football. Last month, Syracuse and Pittsburgh reached exit agreements with the conference to leave for the ACC in 2013.
The conference will likely put a good deal of thought into the construction of the divisions. Travel is a concern. A one-way flight from Boise, Idaho to Tampa, Fla. is 2,629 miles if the Broncos are scheduled at South Florida. A trip from San Diego to Storrs, Conn. is even further. If Connecticut plays San Diego State next season, the road team will travel close to 6,000 total miles.
Jones has high praise for Stewart
While in Newport, R.I. for the media kickoff, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones described LB/DE Walter Stewart as a dynamic leader and maybe the best leader he's had in his 25 years of coaching. Stewart took the comments in stride.
“It's just respect,” Stewart told ESPN.com. “I take a lot of pride in being the captain and being a leader.”
Stewart leads a defense that loses its top player in former DT Derek Wolfe, the 2011 Big East Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Wolfe, a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos, had 9.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season. Cincinnati also lost former DT John Hughes and LB J.K. Schaffer, who led the team with 114 tackles.
There's still talent abound on a defense that returns seven starters. Three-quarters of the starting secondary is back, including senior Drew Frey a playmaker at safety. Frey finished second on the team in tackles in 2011 with 73.
Orange may withstand loss of Foster
Syracuse WR Kyle Foster will miss the season while recuperating from a lower-body injury, coach Doug Marrone announced during the media kickoff.
With several talented receivers returning, the loss isn't catastrophic for the Orange. Syracuse might have the top receiver in the league in senior wideout Alec Lemon. The All-Big East Second Team performer has been cleared for preseason camp after undergoing offseason surgery on his right shoulder. Lemon finished 2011 with 68 catches and six TDs.
The Orange also welcome back senior Marcus Sales, who was suspended for the entire 2011 season. Sales was initially charged with fifth and seventh degree possession of a controlled substance, as well as unlawful possession of marijuana stemming from an arrest last July. The charges were eventually dropped last October, because of a lack of evidence. When Sales last appeared on the field for Syracuse, he produced one of the best games of his college career. In the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, Sales repeatedly burned the Kansas State secondary in a 172-yard, 3 TD performance.
Sophomore receiver Jarrod West (6-2, 204) also returns. In 2011, West had 16 catches and a TD. Foster made seven tackles on kickoff coverage during his freshman season in 2011, but didn't have a reception.
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