Tag:Big East
Posted on: November 1, 2010 11:24 pm
 

Report: Big East to talk expansion in meeting

Posted by Chip Patterson

On the field, the Big East has failed to make a dent in the national scene this year.  The conference has been openly criticized by many, and with just a month left in regular season play there is not a single Big East team in the current Top 25.  Off the field, the presidents and athletic directors are gathering this week to work on changing their reputation.  It is being reported by several sources that one of the hot topics to be covered in this meeting is a "probable expansion."

The regularly scheduled meeting will likely be tense with debate as the football-playing members of the conference will be pushing to expand the eight team conference, possibly by including current national powerhouse TCU.  A New York Post report indicated that TCU and Central Florida are both very interested, with Houston, Temple, and Villanova also being mentioned as leading candidates.  

"The goal is to get the presidents' blessing to seriously pursue teams," said one Big East athletic director. "I don't think we're going to get pushback on that."

If they do get the green-light, sources are reporting that invitations could be offered by the end of this college football season.  But getting everyone involved to rally around expansion may not be easy for the non-football schools in the conference.  Adding a team to the football conference would likely mean adding them to the already vast 16 team conference from many of the non-football sports.   
Posted on: October 30, 2010 9:32 pm
 

What I learned from the Big East (Oct. 30)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. West Virginia has been giving away their season, one turnover at a time - Just three weeks ago, West Virginia was "leading" the Big East. They toted a 5-1 record and a national ranking, as well as a top ranked defensive unit that was holding opponents to less than two touchdowns per game. But while the season was at a midpoint, the conference schedule was just getting started. But in the last two games, turnovers have almost cost the Mountaineers their shot at a BCS bowl berth. The eye test said that the Mountaineers were cruising on easy street down to Miami, until they decided they were tired of taking care of the ball. Against Syracuse West Virginia turned the ball over three times, all of which were turned into points for the Orange. Saturday's matchup with Connecticut was more of the same from the Mountaineer offense. West Virginia racked up 414 yards of total offense, but four lost fumbles prevented them from scoring more than 13 points on the Huskies defense.  If the Mountaineers avoid coughing the ball up, they could be 3-0 in conference play and looking down the road to a potential BCS bowl game.  But instead of the Mountaineers, it is the Pittsburgh Panthers.  Speaking of...

2. Lewis has reclaimed the favor of the Pittsburgh coaching staff - Earlier in the season, Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis was struggling to get his season going.  His yards per carry were down from his 2009 Rookie of the Year campaign, and he was sharing many of his carries with backup Ray Graham.  Now that conference play has begun, Lewis has emerged as the clear-cut but first stringer in the Panther backfield.  After a phenomenal performance last week against Rutgers that included 17 rushes for 130 yards and a touchdown, Lewis appeared to have regained the starting job despite Graham continuing to lead the team in rushing by a convincing margin.  In the win over Louisville, Lewis carried the ball 18 times compared to Graham's nine attempts.  Earlier in the season, that was much more of a 50-50 divide between the two backs.  Now Lewis must make the most of his increased opportunities in order to hold that spot. 

3. Syracuse's tenacious second half defense is a key to their success - In five of the Orange's six victories, the defense has shut out the opponent in the second half.  Syracuse's offense has relied on a dominant running game led by Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  The smash mouth brand of football under second year head coach Doug Marrone has turned last season's 1-6 conference record around to 3-1 at the midpoint of the conference schedule.  Syracuse has only been to a bowl game twice since since 2000 and not at all since 2004, but the 2010 Orange are already bowl eligible at 6-2.  A conference championship may be out of reach after the loss to Pittsburgh, but anything is an upgrade from the way things have been at Syracuse.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 1:33 pm
 

Nevada, Fresno St. told to grab a Snickers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Why the delicious nougaty candy-related reference to lead off this post? Because Nevada and Fresno State are, as the tagline goes, not going anywhere for a while . Their move into the Mountain West and out of the ever-wobbly WAC has been delayed by a year, until 2012, as part of the resolution of a WAC lawsuit that asked the Wolf Pack and Bulldogs to either wait it out one extra season or fork over a cool $5 million each.

That kind of money doesn't grow on non-AQ trees, so both schools will pay a meager $900,000 (though they'll also forfeit their 2011-2012 league distribtuion check , making the true price tag a bit heftier) and spend another year lining up against the remnants of the WAC. That conference and commisioner Karl Benson came out the clear losers in this latest round of west coast conference expansion, but this is a major win that will give Benson a desperately-needed extra year in which to cobble together a strategy for keeping the 48-year-old conference afloat.

Everyone else involved in the MWC-WAC-BYU expansion brouhaha, though, comes out a loser in the short-term of today's decision. Let's count the ways:

Nevada and Fresno : Not that either program will likely be looking at a BCS berth in 2011, but nonetheless that goal will be all-but-impossible playing in a watered-down, Boise State -less WAC that will rank with the Sun Belt and MAC as the FBS's worst. Maybe more practically, a MWC schedule would be substantially more appealing to ticket-holders than going another round with San Jose State and Idaho . (The proud Pack men's hoops program would have been much more likely to earn an NCAA Tournament at-large berth out of the MWC, too.)

Boise State : Speaking of the Broncos, the 2011 MWC will likely offer a better strength-of-schedule quotient than the 2011 WAC, thanks to the likes of TCU , Air Force , and a rejuvenated San Digeo State . But without the Pack and the Bulldogs (or, of course, deserters BYU or Utah ), the sad-sack bottom half of the MWC still projects to be so weak that there won't be that much difference. If the Broncos do mount another undefeated charge at the national title game, tilts against known quantities like Nevada and Fresno would have come very much in handy.

The Mountain West: The MWC keeps trying to push the rock that is automatic qualification up the hill that is the BCS , and it keeps rolling downhill. A league with Boise added to the Utah-BYU-TCU axis was a lock, but the Utes and Cougars jumped ship. A league with Nevada and Fresno adding depth to the TCU-Boise axis also stands a good shot given the Big East 's current woes, but now that league won't start play until 2012, by which time it's possible a bigger fish picks off the geographically-distant Horned Frogs. (There's already rumors about TCU being offered a spot in the Big East.)

After today, the league seems more than ever to be merely running to stand still.

Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:30 pm
 

Randy Edsall is paranoid

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Try not to sneak up on UConn head coach Randy Edsall if you see him in the next few days, because the man is a bit jumpy at the moment.  You would be too if you knew that all around you, hiding behind every corner, sitting in every parked car, there are spies.  At least, that's what Edsall thinks.

The coach found out on Wednesday that somebody was posting a detailed transcript on the internet of everything that had gone on during UConn's practice on Tuesday.

"One of our former players' parents e-mailed [program assistant Joanne Fazio]," Edsall told the Hartford Courant . "We had somebody that was giving a blow-by-blow of everything that happened in practice. We might have to practice inside all the time now."

Edsall then said that the team would be practicing inside on Wednesday due to the rain, but that the team had to remain aware of this dorm room spy, no doubt wearing a fedora and a trenchcoat, letting the entire world know about Huskies practices.

"Technology, these days … everybody wants to let everybody know everything."

Yes, well, if I were Edsall I'd probably take a different approach to this whole situation.  I'd just be happy somebody was actually watching UConn football.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: October 24, 2010 11:43 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Oct. 23)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Eight teams still have a shot at BCS berth - As crazy as it sounds, the perfect storm of circumstance has brought about a wide open Big East conference race.  The first major factor has been the scheduling.  For the most part, each team backlogged their conference schedule.  So while we are at the midpoint of the regular season, six of the eight teams in the conference are only two games into league play.  Even the seemingly hapless Connecticut Huskies are a Pittsburgh upset from climbing back into the race.  Knock the Big East as much as you want, but at the wide-open race will at least make each game interesting coming down the stretch.  
  
2. Syracuse isn't flashy, but they are getting it done - After getting throttled by Pittsburgh at home, Syracuse bounced back to stun West Virginia in Morgantown.  The Orange got right back to the same kind of tough football that helped them rattle off three straight wins, with aggressive defense and a solid running game.  When Delone Carter left the game with a hip injury, backup running back Antwon Bailey stepped and delivered a season high 94 yards on the ground.  The defense kept West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith guessing all day, disguising their coverages and blitzes to force a season high three interceptions.  Syracuse hasn't put together impressive victories (particularly not scoring a point after halftime) but if they can continue to stack the W's, the Orange could find themselves bowling in 2010.

3. Tino Sunseri has arrived - After a somewhat shaky start, Sunseri has come into his own as the leader of the Panthers offense.  The rushing attack has not been what it was a year ago in Dion Lewis' breakout season, but the sophomore signal caller has stepped it up through the air in conference play.  After five touchdowns in the first five games, Sunseri has connected with his receivers for seven scores in the last two weeks.  If he can continue to find playmaking wide receiver Jon Baldwin, like he did for 139 yards against Rutgers, Pittsburgh could be a difficult team to beat down the stretch.

4. There is some hope in Tampa for South Florida - To reiterate the earlier point, South Florida's 38-30 victory over Cincinnati on Friday kept the Bulls from falling all but out of the Big East hunt.  Not only did first year head coach Skip Holtz avoid starting 0-3 in the conference, but he got the best performance of the season from quarterback B.J. Daniels.  If Daniels' performance was more than just a flash in the pan, South Florida can do a lot to make up for the rough start.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Syracuse just turned the Big East upside down

Posted by Chip Patterson

And just like that, the Big East has been blown wide open.  

We figured that it could happen, just weren't all that positive that it would.  But with Syracuse's 19-14 victory, West Virginia has been knocked off their post as the Big East front runner and the conference is now up for grabs.  Syracuse forced West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith into three first half interceptions that the Orange turned into points, and the Mountaineers weren't able to climb back from the halftime deficit.  In fact, after a very exciting back and forth first half of play, neither team scored scored a point after the break.  

Syracuse dominated West Virginia on the ground, racking up 183 rushing yards on one of the best statistical defenses in the nation.  Running back Delone Carter left the game in the second quarter with a hip injury after racking up 75 yards, but backup Antwon Bailey was just as effective for the Orange.  Bailey carried 19 times for 94 yards, career high's in both categories, and Syracuse shed a new light on the Mountaineer squad that many had already penciled in for the conference title. 

Pittsburgh has now jumped into the conference lead with their 41-21 dismantling of Rutgers.  After the 2-0 Panthers stand Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville as teams with one loss.  That list will be shortened after the completion of the Huskies-Cardinals game, but the argument will still be valid for 3/4 of the conference to be considered legitimate contenders.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 12:24 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:13 pm
 

Game day weather updates, Week 8

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. You like storms? We got storms. There's a front moving through the nation's heartland, and there's copious amounts of rain all the way from Chicago to Texas. Will this affect Missouri-Oklahoma? All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Purdue at No. 11 Ohio State, 12:00, Columbus, OH: Upper 50s, clear

Syracuse at No. 20 West Virginia, 12:00, Morgantown, WV: Mid 60s, mostly cloudy

No. 8 Michigan State at Northwestern, 12:00, Evanston, IL: Upper 50s, rain

Ole Miss at No. 21 Arkansas, 12:21, Fayetteville, AR: Upper 60s, cloudy (storms later)

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 10 Wisconsin at No. 12 Iowa, 3:30, Iowa City, IA: Upper 60s, chance of rain

No. 6 LSU at No. 5 Auburn, 3:30, Auburn, AL: Upper 70s, clear

No. 14 Nebraska at No. 17 Oklahoma State, 3:30, Stillwater, OK: Mid 70s, chance of storms

Evening kickoffs

No. 7 Alabama at Tennessee, 7:00, Knoxville, TN: Mid 60s, partly cloudy

No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 18 Missouri, 8:00, Columbia, MO: Mid 60s, scattered storms

Air Force at No. 4 TCU, 8:00, Fort Worth, TX: Upper 60s, scattered storms

Late night kickoffs

Washington at No. 15 Arizona, 10:15, Tucson, AZ: Upper 60s, partly cloudy


Posted on: October 20, 2010 4:36 pm
 

UConn QB suspended 2010-2011 academic year

Posted by Chip Patterson

Connecticut quarterback Cody Endres had just settled into his new first-string role after his second start of the 2010 season in the 27-24 loss to Rutgers.  Endres took over in the middle of the Buffalo game, after another unsuccessful half by Zach Frazer.  Endres helped the Huskies rattle off two straight 40+ point performances before the loss at Rutgers.  But instead of spending this week preparing to take on Louisville, head coach Randy Edsall will be forced to do yet another quarterback shuffle.  

On Wednesday, the university announced that Endres had been suspended from the football team for a violation of University policies.  The suspension will last for the entire 2010-2011 academic year, which will last through spring practice as well.  Endres' suspension is rumored to be in relation to the school's substance abuse policy, but the neither the athletic department nor Edsall offered further comment on the issue.  

What does this mean for the Huskies offense?  Frazer could reclaim his starting role, but he is the third-string quarterback according to the current depth chart.  It could mean the first career start for redshirt freshman Michael Box.  Box has only attempted five passes on his career, all during mop-up duty against Texas Southern.  

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