1. Can things get any better? Left for dead after the ACC expansion, the Big East has more than pulled its weight.
It is 8-2 the past two seasons in bowls. It had four teams ranked in the AP 10 at various times in 2007. West Virginia is a national championship contender. The middle of the league is a strong as any league, except the SEC -- Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida and Connecticut. Commissioner Mike Tranghese deserves a lifetime achievement award in his final season.
2. Bill Stewart, come on down: The West Virginia assistant's surprising battlefield promotion after the Fiesta Bowl win was one of the more surprising developments of 2007. Now the former Rich Rodriguez assistant must produce. The Mountaineers are loaded this season with Rich Rod's leftovers. But Stewart has shown an ability to recruit too. West Virginia has 13 commitments and is actually slowing down recruiting in order to balance out the class. Too many skill players want to follow in the footsteps of Pat White and Steve Slaton. Stewart needs more linemen. His first recruiting class (2009) could provide the foundation for years to come.
3. The hottest of seats is at Syracuse: Along with Washington's Tyrone Willingham, Greg Robinson is considered one of the first coaches to be fired. He has won seven games in three seasons, never more than four in any year. There has been little improvement in a program that used to be a regular resident of the top 25. The only weak sister in the Big East has to play at Northwestern, West Virginia, South Florida, Rutgers and Notre Dame as well as a home game against Penn State. Where should we forward your mail, Greg?
4. South Florida is not going South: That wasn't a fluke last season when the Bulls rose to No. 2 in the country. D coordinator Wally Burnham has built a crushing unit led by returning All-American George Selvie. Quarterback Matt Grothe doesn't fit in any category, he just wins. Don't be surprised if South Florida is undefeated going to West Virginia on Dec. 6.
5. Pittsburgh is headed ... You tell me: Up? Down? The upset of West Virginia provided momentum and Dave Wannstedt has recruited well but the world is waiting to see the Panthers take the next step. A second-place Big East finish is doable, especially with under-the-radar Heisman candidate LeSean McCoy at tailback.