Big East teams had little trouble moving the ball in 2011. All eight teams averaged at least 21.75 points per game and finished in the top 100 in FBS in scoring.
Louisville finished last in the conference in scoring, but averaged 28.8 ppg after Shawn Watson took over as the primary play-caller for the Cardinals' final five games. In terms of offensive schemes, there is wide variation throughout the league. South Florida and Cincinnati operate spread offenses, Pittsburgh and Rutgers run a pro-style system and the other four teams present opponents with multiple schemes on offense.
Here's our list of the top five offensive coordinators in the league.
1. Mike Bajakian, Cincinnati
Regarded for his meticulousness, Bajakian is described by Bearcats coach Butch Jones as a “tremendous teacher of the fine details it takes to play quarterback at the championship level.” At Central Michigan, Bajakian mentored Dan LeFevour for the final three seasons of the quarterback's record-setting career. LeFevour ended his career as the only quarterback in NCAA history to finish with more than 12,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards. Bajakian also has stints with Michigan as its quarterbacks coach (2000-2001) and the Bears as their quality control and receivers coach (2004-2006).
Bajakian's thorough approach to the position could help a young offense that will be led by a first-year starting quarterback in 2012. In 2011, the Bearcats finished second in the conference in points per game (33.3). A year earlier, Cincinnati led the Big East in scoring offense, total offense, passing offense and third-down conversion percentage.
2. Todd Fitch, South Florida
In a coaching career that has spanned more than 25 years, Fitch has worked under Don Nehlen, Lou Holtz and Earle Bruce, among others. Fitch's greatest asset might be his ability to change his scheme to adapt to his current personnel.
In 2007, for instance, Fitch spearheaded an explosive offense that led FBS in scoring drives under a minute (23). A year later, Fitch went to more of a ball-control offense after a rash of injuries forced the Pirates to use 24 different starters on offense. Despite the loss of five players who had seen time with the first-team at running back or wide receiver, East Carolina still managed to run a productive offense. In 2008, the Pirates set six individual or team single-season school records on offense.
Fitch has helped transform USF quarterback B.J. Daniels from an athlete to a game manager. Daniels has improved his footwork and shortened his delivery under Fitch.
3. Shawn Watson, Louisville
Expect Watson to lead a balanced offense at Louisville. In 2009 when Watson as the offensive coordinator at Nebraska, the Cornhuskers produced 175.7 passing and 147.1 rushing yards per game.Watson can also adjust when necessary. Two years earlier, Nebraska set a school record with 3,886 passing yards. In 2001. When Watson served in a similar capacity at Colorado, the Buffaloes depended heavily on a rushing attack that featured future NFL back Chris Brown. Late in the season, Colorado shocked then No. 2 Nebraska 62-36, as Brown scored six touchdowns and the Buffaloes rushed for 380 yards.
4. Joe Rudolph, Pittsburgh
The Panthers' vaunted running attack will benefit from Rudolph's knowledge of power blocking. Rudolph was a two-time All-Big Ten offensive lineman at Wisconsin and coached NFL linemen Nick Mangold and Rob Sims at Ohio State. As the tight ends coach for the Badgers over the last four seasons, Rudolph mentored three NFL tight ends in Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks.
5. Dave Brock, Rutgers
Brock has coached a litany of high-level NFL performers at stints at North Carolina, Kansas State and Hofstra. The list includes: Hakeem Nicks, Marques Colston, Josh Freeman and Jordy Nelson. Brock will lead a talented receiving corps that must cope with the loss of Mohamed Sanu. Brock gets the final spot narrowly over UConn offensive coordinator George DeLeone and Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
DeLeone has more than 40 years of coaching experience and served as the tight ends coach for the 2008 AFC East champion Miami Dolphins. Hackett, the son of former USC coach Paul Hackett, has coached NFL receivers Terrell Owens, Joey Galloway and Lee Evans in stints with the Bills and Bucs.
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