Blog Entry

Picking the Big East

Posted on: June 23, 2009 11:51 am
Edited on: June 24, 2009 2:12 am

Sometimes you feel like the smartest person in the college football world.

Sometimes you throw darts.

Welcome to the Big East where all you need is flexible wrist. Don't worry about a bulls eye. Anywhere, you throw it, you could be a winner. Since 2003 eight different schools have claimed at least a share of the Big East title. A lot of that has to do with realignment after ACC expansion. But the conference remains perhaps the most competitive BCS conference.

Last season six of the eight teams made it to a bowl. In 2006-2007, three Big East teams had made it to the top three in the polls. With only eight teams, the league had one less NFL draft pick (27) than the Big Ten's 11 teams (28).

The demise of the Big East was greatly exaggerated. In the four years since realignment it is 3-1 in BCS bowls.

A case can be made for at least four schools being good enough to win the league this season.

Picking the Big East ...

1. Rutgers -- This dart lands in Piscataway. The Scarlet Knights will go to their first BCS game mostly because they have the league's most favorable schedule. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, South Florida and West Virginia have to come up the Jersey Turnpike.  Even though Greg Schiano loses his quarterback (Mike Teel) and two best receivers (Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood), there is enough talent to fill in. All five starters are back on the offensive line, including 325-pound NFL prospect Anthony Davis at left tackle. Schiano gave up his play-calling duties on defense, handing them over to assistants Bob Fraser and Ed Pinkham. The pressure will be on but the Knights have time to wade into the deep end. They get Howard, Florida International and Texas Southern at home before playing their second Big East game. The momentum created by a seven-game winning streak to end '08 will carry over with 16 returning starters.

2. South Florida -- It helps to have the Big East's best offensive (quarterback Matt Grothe) and defensive (George Selvie) players. The offense gets more of a pure spread with the promotion of Mike Canales to offensive coordinator. Grothe might have to use those magic legs more than ever with only one returning starter on the offensive line. Selvie can be a freak at times off the edge. He slipped back in '08 after 14 1/2 sacks in 2007. The Bulls must learn to finish. They started 6-0 in '07 and 5-0 in '08. If they are going to get off to a similar start this season they must win at Florida State on Sept. 26.

3. Pittsburgh -- I really want to pick the Panthers to win. I really do. Dave Wannstedt might have the most talented team in the league but he will have to prove it. The loss of tailback Sean McCoy to the NFL was a killer. Early enrollee Dion Lewis has a shot at the job. If senior Bill Stull doesn't hold onto the quarterback job (nine touchdowns, 10 interceptions, there's always junior Pat Bostick. The defense will be stout again with Mick Williams at defensive tackle. Linebacker Adam Gunn returns for a sixth year of eligibility after breaking his neck in the '08 season opener. Wanny has stockpiled talent with three consecutive top 25 recruiting classes. Coming off a nine-win season, he needs to take the next step and win a bowl game in his fifth year at Pittsburgh.

4. Cincinnati -- The Bearcats were lucky enough to hold onto coach Brian Kelly. The ultimate coaching ladder climber (three jobs since 2003), recently signed an extension through 2013. If Kelly sticks around long enough, Kelly could make Cincinnati into a watered down version of Miami in the old Big East, an urban school waiting to bust out. In his second full season, Kelly produced 11 wins, a conference title and an Orange Bowl berth. Injuries forced Kelly to use five quarterbacks last season. The survivor, senior Tony Pike, is back. He'll throw to Marty Gilyard, the leading returning receiver in the league.

5. West Virginia -- Sorry, West Virginians. You lose Pat White and your prospects don't improve. White was one of the Big East's best-ever players and perhaps the best player in West Virginia history. The slippery quarterback cannot be fully replaced, but Jarrett Brown will give it a shot. The senior gets his shot to start in his final season. The 6-foot-4 Brown is more of a physical dual-threat quarterback. What Brown can't do, tailback Noel Devine can. After rushing for almost 2,000 yards in his first two seasons, this could be Devine's breakout year. A Heisman run wouldn't be surprise. The Mountaineers will have to win at least nine again to make it happen. That could be a struggle.

6. Connecticut -- UConn forces you to pay attention. The basketball team has a higher profile. In a league of football overachievers, it is not the first option. South Florida is in its 13th year of existence, but UConn has been in I-A only seven years. The country had to pay attention last season.  Donald Brown led the country in rushing, the Huskies blew out conference champ Cincinnati and won eight games. Coach Randy Edsall's name continued to pop up for higher profile jobs. Edsall stayed. However, Brown is gone to the NFL so don't expect another 2,000-yard season. Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer will take over at quarterback throwing to 5-9 Kashif Moore, the team's leading receiver.

7. Louisville -- This has to be a make or break season for Steve Kragthorpe. He is 11-13 in two years. Last season crashed with a five-game losing streak. The once powerful offense is now struggling. Tailback Victor Anderson rushed for 1,000 yards but only 207 of those came in the last four games. Louisville desperately needs something good to happen. The schedule is not kind. In consecutive weeks the Cardinals play at Kentucky, at Utah, Pittsburgh, Southern Miss, at UConn and at Cincinnati.

8. Syracuse -- If Doug Marrone's work ethic could be transformed into wins, the Orange would be back in a major bowl. Cuse Nation is excited about one of their own taking over. Still, Marrone is a rookie head coach inheriting a train wreck. The new coach has embraced Syracuse traditions. Redshirt freshman Ryan Nassib was named starter in spring practice but there is the small matter of a former Duke guard in the mix. This was a good place for Greg Paulus to land. A one-year cameo could get the Cuse back on track. Before missing last season for academic reasons, Mike Williams caught 60 passes in '07 and was second-team all-Big East. The defense finished last in the conference in total defense. Look to the Jones brothers for improvement. Senior Arthur is a defensive tackle who has 31 1/2 career tackles for loss. His brother Chandler is an end who could get into the lineup as a redshirt freshman.



Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2009 4:02 pm

Picking the Big East

the recruits are remembering that this is West VirginiaConsidering we had one of our best recruiting classes ever and looking strong again next year, I don't really understand that comment.

Why would you consider WVU a sinking ship?
Losing Pat White? Going 9-4, winning our bowl game with a new head coach and OC? One of the strongest D's in the country this year(top 10 in the land, no doubt)Experienced returning QB with one of the most electrifying RB's in the nation(Devine)?

I just don't understand your logic.

Since: Sep 12, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 3:52 pm

Picking the Big East

They need to get rid of the Big East and plit the teams into other conferences. The MWC is more deserving of a BCS game than the Big East.I'd like to see WVU go to the SEC.  They would be middle of the road there, but it would be more fun to have Alabama come to Morgantown than UConn. I love the fact that we have a chance to go to a BCS bowl every year, but you might be right.

Since: Dec 19, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2009 3:41 pm

Yawn... nobody cares

The Big East seems like it's a conference with a bunch of Division 1 schools. The WAC, C-USA and MWC are much more interesting. They need to get rid of the Big East and plit the teams into other conferences. The MWC is more deserving of a BCS game than the Big East.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 3:36 pm

Picking the Big East

As stated by a few other posters, I'm just glad this article isn't bashing the Big East. We know who we are as a conference (not very good) but we still enjoy the competition and our respective teams. I really like the comparison of players going to the NFL as the Big Ten. I think that stat proves we have some talent (talented teams on the other hand...not so much) Hopefully Pitt will prove me wrong this year, PLEASE PLAY BOSTICK!

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 3:30 pm

Picking the Big East

Tell that to the teams that have played Big East teams in bowl games the last two, three years. Actually, the BE isn't too bad. You can tell it's a decent league by the number of guys drafted in the top 2, 3 rounds of the NFL draft each year. I think UCONN alone had four guys go in the first two rounds this past year.

Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 3:17 pm

Picking the Big East

"The Big East is the biggest fraud in college football.  How can Ohio State and or Penn State be in the discussion of going undefeated and NOT playing in the BCS championship because the conference is "weak".  Over the past few years WVU was in the national championship discussion if they went undeafeated but PSU might have been leapfrogged by a 1 loss team."

Clearly you're relying too heavily on the CBS message boards for your CFB information. I've never heard any reasonable person say that undefeated OSU or PSU teams would get leapfrogged by a one-loss team. So, take a deep breath, count to ten and relax. You're letting the Big10 haters get in your head, and it's causing you to spout off without giving much thought to what you're saying.

The Big Ten is slightly down, for now, but it won't last.  Even with PSU's dismal OOC and a slightly down Big10, you can rest assured that if they are one of only two undefeated teams they will have their chance to play for the MNC. And it goes w/out saying that an undefeated OSU team would get a title shot as well. So again, relax, and if you find that difficult to do, my advice is to start drinking heavily.

Since: Oct 26, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 2:54 pm

Picking the Big East

Perhaps they have forgotten the RB's we had last year that contributed emensiously to our offense?

They were forgettable in the 3 games I saw last year; but then again I watched Rutgers lose to Fresno St., UNC, and WVU. I guess they did better when they played Army, Syracuse, Louisville, USF and Morgan State. LMAO. Wink

There is no doubt we had bad games but if my memory serves me right! 
Against Fresno state Young had 94 yards, we just couldnt stop Matthews?( You do remember we got better as the year went on right?)

Against UNC  Young had 82 yards respectively and lead the game of all rushers. Again we weren't meshing just yet(Damn!)

Now in WV we held both White and Devin to around 58 yards? which is about same that Brooks had for the game. And we were starting to come around on the D and Offense.(Many WV fans were glad they didnt play us later in the year).

So you may have your fun with Army, Syracuse(who beat ND), Lousiville. But beating USF and #17 Pitt at home are very good wins! not to mention Unconn! Oh and North Carolina St was no slouch either!

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 2:40 pm

Picking the Big East

I agree they will be back very soon,  just not this year..... but in the near future they will be in a BCS Bowl again.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 2:39 pm

Picking the Big East

He did mention him, try reading it next time

Since: Mar 27, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 2:38 pm

Picking the Big East

Rutgers=the oldest football program in the country with most pathetic win ratio, kids who go to RU have to have a new Fing haircut and had RU has a backup school after not being recruited by any school in Florida.

South Florida = 5th or 6th in the Big East in 2009. Kind of like last year. 

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