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The Big (L)east

We've gone over this before, but some people obviously weren't listening. This weekend the Centre Daily Times' Rob Bracken laid out the case why the Big East is a conference to be feared. Please. Where to start.

The Big East went 5-0 in bowl games last year. It had three teams finish in the top 12 in the BCS rankings and hung up a 14-7 record against the other BCS conferences.

A 5-0 bowl record sure looks impressive. Until you see who they played.

South Florida defeated East Carolina 24-7 in the Bowl.
Rutgers defeated Kansas State 37-10 in the Texas Bowl.
West Virginia defeated Georgia Tech 38-35 in the Gator Bowl.
Louisville defeated Wake Forest 24-13 in the Orange Bowl.
Cincinnati defeated Western Michigan 27-24 in the International Bowl.

This is hardly a murderers row of opponents. The only ranked opponent in this entire group was Wake Forest who was number 18 only because they won an extremely weak ACC. Sure the Big Ten went 2-5 in bowl season, but look who we played: Florida, USC, Tennessee, Arkasas, Texas, Texas Tech and Maryland. How would the Big East have faired over a schedule like that? Take Louisville or West Virginia and put them in the Big Ten and they instantly become three loss teams. Rutgers probably loses four or five.

Knowing the Big East teams played a bunch of cream puffs in their bowl games, Bracken throws in the 14-7 stat against BCS conference schools to prove his point. He figures nobody has the time to look into those games. He overestimates my social life and underestimates my hatred for the Big East lovefest.

Wins: Indiana, Kentucky, Miami, Kansas State (2), Illinois, North Carolina (2), Maryland, Mississippi State, Virginia, and the bowl games previously mentioned.
Losses: Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest (2), Iowa, Kansas, Michigan State

What are the best wins there? Louisville's win over a 6-6 Miami team that barely earned a bowl bid to the MPC Computers Bowl where they barely squeaked out a 21-20 win against Nevada? Really their best win as a conference is probably West Virginia's 45-24 win over the Maryland Terrapins, a team that also beat Miami as well as Clemson and Florida State before beating Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.

The Ohio State and Virginia Tech losses are both credited to Cincinnati. Kudos to the Bearcats, the only Big East team with the balls to schedule tough out of conference opponents. The rest of them have no excuse losing to BCS conference also-rans like Iowa, Kansas, and Michigan State.

And how does the out of conference schedule look for the Big East's "Big Three" this year?

No! No no no no no no no! I refuse to believe any of these teams are worthy of a top ten ranking and a spot in the BCS title game for beating such weak competition and running unscathed through a conference that features Pitt, Syracuse, and UConn. Until the top teams in the Big Least go out and play some real competition they do not deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with the USC's and Florida's of the world. People like Rob Bracken need to wake up and start realizing that, but I guess they get hypnotized by the shiny records and BCS tie-ins and can't see how weak the Big East really is.

Now throw in the fact that the Scarlet Knights are in New York City's back yard, so the potential exists for them to carve out a share of that mega-TV market, and with that exposure they become even more attractive to the recruits in New Jersey.

This will never happen. New Jersey is dominated by professional sports. The New York Yankees and Giants are king. For those who can't stand to root for the glamorous choice, there are the Mets and Jets. Whatever is left get sucked up by the Knicks, Nets, Rangers, and Devils. Rutgers football will never, and I mean never grab a large portion of the New York headlines for more than a day at a time. New York is just not a college town. It never was and it never will be. Writers like Bracken need to stop giving undue credit to teams and conferences that duck the top teams in the nation to protect their BCS Bowl tie-in status.

So much for its perceived second-class status. The Big East is now a major player on the college football landscape.

Just because you deem it doesn't make it so.

Out Of Conference Games
Big East Team Toughest(?) Weakest(?)
Louisville NC State at Kentucky Utah Middle Tenn. State Murray State
Rutgers Maryland Navy at Army Norfolk State Buffalo
West Virginia at Maryland at Marshall East Carolina Western Michigan Mississippi State