Now that Rutgers is leaving, I’d like to take a look at the state of the Big East as a football conference.
Then, the Pittsburgh Panthers and the Syracuse Orange announced their plans to head to the ACC after the 2012 football season. Now, Rutgers, currently one of only two teams in the Big East that are ranked, is on its way out.
The Big East recently divided into two divisions, the “East” and the “West”.
The new Big East East will be Cincinnati, Louisville, Connecticut, the Central Florida Knights and South Florida.
The Big East West will feature a number of new teams to the conference. The Boise State Broncos, the San Diego State Aztecs, the Houston Cougars, the Southern Methodist University Mustangs, the Memphis Tigers and the Temple Owls.
This led me to a conversation this morning where I debated with someone about whether or not the Big East conference is still a “power” conference, and whether or not it ever was.
Now, call me a doubter, but this new conference certainly doesn’t seem very competitive to me, especially not when you compare it to the SEC, Big XII, Big Ten, ACC, etc.
I would even venture to say that the Big East has not been a “power” conference for quite a while. It certainly has faded a bit in recent years.
I look back at the years from the mid to late 2000s when nearly every team in the conference was ranked. WVU was ranked, led by Pat White and Steve Slaton. Rutgers was ranked and had Ray Rice. Louisville was ranked and had Brian Brohm. PITT was ranked and had Larry Fitzgerald. USF and Syracuse were top 25 teams, etc.
It used to be as competitive as playing a Big XII or Big Ten schedule. There were very few weeks where a team would not have a ranked opponent to play, but only for a few years.
Now, I can’t help but notice that the conference seems more like a C-USA or MAC than a Big XII or SEC.
I think the Big East was a power conference at one point, but those days are over. This brings to mind the question of whether or not the conference deserves an automatic BCS bid.
The point of the BCS automatic qualifier is to reward teams that performed well in tough conferences. I think now (referring to the last few years) the Big East isn’t strong enough of a schedule to deserve an automatic qualifier. When a team beats five or six ranked teams in a season they deserve the bowl game, but when they only beat one or two each season, and they are number 24 or 25, they don’t.
I’d love to hear other opinions on this. If you have an opinion or just want to chat about what you read, send me your comments on Twitter at @MikeAtkinsonRS.