Here’s a snapshot of what Big East football looked like just five years ago:
The college football landscape is fluid. Despite nostalgia, tradition, and perceptions vs. reality, fans have overseen many changes over the years. From big money bowls to recruiting, very little remains from the sport that became so popular years ago. For that matter, it’s sometimes hard to remember what the sport looks like from year-to-year. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the ’07 season in the Big East.
6. West Virginia: 5-2 conference, 11-2 overall
25. Connecticut: 5-2 conference, 9-4 overall
17. Cincinnati: 4-3 conference, 10-3 overall
UR. South Florida: 4-3 conference, 9-4 overall
UR. Rutgers: 3-4 conference, 8-5 overall
UR. Louisville: 3-4 conference, 6-6 overall
UR. Pittsburgh: 3-4 conference, 5-7 overall
UR. Syracuse: 1-6 conference, 2-10 overall
WVU, led by Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine, stormed through the conference to secure a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Their 20-point victory — despite being a considerable underdog — represents one of the Big East’s finest moments of the BCS era.
West Virginia: Rich Rodriguez
Connecticut: Randy Edsall
Cincinnati: Brian Kelly
Louisville: Steve Kragthorpe
Pittsburgh: Dave Wannstedt
Rutgers: Greg Schiano
South Florida: Jim Leavitt
Syracuse: Greg Robinson
Not one one Big East football coach remains from just five years ago. While Randy Edsall and Brian Kelly have time to re-write their scripts at Maryland and Notre Dame, respectively, it remains to be seen if either will have as much success away from the Big East as they did in it. Rich Rodriguez certainly didn’t. Among those that left for greener pastures, Greg Schiano is the wild card. He’ll take over a talented but immature Tampa Bay Buccaneers team in the NFL.
Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm led the conference in yards and passer rating. Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, and Donald Brown — all future NFL starting running backs — finished in the Top 7 in Big East rushing yards. Kenny Britt led the conference in receiving yards with 1232. George Selvie was a terror off the outside for South Florida, registering 14 sacks.
Game of the year:
Rutgers stunning No. 2 South Florida
Behind 181 yards from Ray Rice, Rutgers upset the then No. 2 team in the country in South Florida. After entering the game 6-0, South Florida would spiral out of control after leaving Piscataway. They finished the season only 4-3 in the Big East.
While it was clear that the conference could use an upgrade of depth and talent, no fan could have foreseen the future for the Big East in 2007. West Virginia might not have had enough firepower to win a National Championship, but they did dominate Sam Bradford and Oklahoma in a BCS game. Rich Rodriguez had developed a system reliant on speed that had big potential for the conference down the line. Three Top 25 teams, coaches like Rodriguez, Edsall, Kelly, and Schiano should have had the conference set up to capitalize on the growing trend of realignment and super leagues. Obviously, that never happened.
Five years later, the conference is a ghost compared to itself of just five years ago. Gone are Kelly and Rodriguez. Temple has arrived, with Boise soon to follow.
What will the conference look like five years from now?