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: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 1:17 pm

Picking the Big East

dodd going with Rutgers. He must have read Phil Steele.

WVU will finish higher than 5th.

Cincy is rebuilding their defence and finish lower

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:55 pm

Picking the Big East

The Big East is always open and up for grabs it seems and hardly ever does the favorite to win the conference at the beginning of the year end up winning it. However I don't believe it will be Pitt. Our quarterback situation is a real problem. Bill Stull and Pat Bostick are not the answers at quarterback. They are both immobile and lack the decision making skills to make plays for their team. They basically need to play like Kyle Orton did for the Bears a few years ago just not turn the ball over and move the chains occassionally but I am afraid that neither of those quarterbacks can do that from what I've seen so far.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:53 pm

Picking the Big East

and the recruits are remembering that this is West Virginia.Apparantly you are not paying attention to the recruits that signed the last couple years and the verbals that we have gotten already for next year.  Getting a top 10 QB last year and alrady getting a verbal from the top dual threat QB in the 2010 class tells me that recruits are remembering that this is West Virginia....A place where you can come and play on a national stage and go to BCS bowls.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:45 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

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:44 pm

Picking the Big East

Paulus has been too busy riding the pine at Duke the last year to remember how to effectively quarterback a team and throw with accuracy. Good luck lol.



Since: Jun 27, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:34 pm

Picking the Big East

Now this is funny you get on here and talk smack about beating a team who has not had a winning record in who knows when. You should be really proud of yourself being able to beat a 3-9 or 4-8 team. Maybe instead of worrying about Louisville the Cats should be trying to figure out a way to beat any good SEC team. The Big East is weak in football. So be proud UK fans you will beat the football powerhouse Louisville this year and probably years to come, but just remember basketball season will come around and the Cats will not be so sure when the two hook up again. So until you start winning any part of the SEC in FOOTBALL shut your mouth and keep going back to the drawing board for the good SEC teams. GO C-A-R-D-S

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:22 pm

Picking the Big East

The Big East is a joke.  How can you cite its Bowl Records when its affiliations are about as good as the Sun Belt.  Dodd continues to show he is a moron with his knowledge (or lack thereoff) of College Football. 

Since: Dec 17, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2009 12:06 pm


West Virginia self-destructed last year. They still have the most talent and best coaches in the Big East.

South Florida is a pretender....again.

Since: Feb 29, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2009 11:36 am

Picking the Big East

WVU loses Pat White and there's no way they can rebound, even though they return all of the skill players outside of Pat White.

Rutgers loses ALL of their skill players and because they have an OL that returns, they'll be fine. Makes no sense -- the logic is flawed.

Who the hell is the QB for RU? It's not Tom Savage.....

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2009 11:28 am

Picking the Big East

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". 

Yeah Tdogg, cuz we all know how well PSU and OSU does in bowl games against other conferences..........The Big 10 has been pretty lame as of recent memory.  At least when WVU goes to a BCS bowl game, they actually show up and win I may add.  OSU is lucky the RR blew against Pitt a couple of years ago, cuz we would of destroyed the Bucks worse than LSU did.  Just ask Oklahoma how good that team was when they were actually allowed to let loose.

They should be forced to play the WAC or ACC winner for a BCS spot since those conferences are weak too.
Wasn't the Big (10) 1-7 last year in bowl games?????  Give it a rest, your argument is stale.

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