From my vantage point, the biggest difference between college football and college basketball isn’t how the champion is determined, or the lack of tailgating. It's neither the size of the pep bands nor the size of the players. For many sports fans in the Northeast like I, the biggest difference is the amount of respect being paid to the Big East Conference.
From the end of August to the beginning of January, Big East football fans like I were blanketed by articles telling us how bad the Big East was and how our conference didn’t deserve an automatic BCS bid. If the article was on the internet, it was usually followed by about ten or fifteen terribly not-witty comments joking about the “Big Least."
This is not to say the media scrutiny was not completely undeserved. Big East football was terrible this year.
The only thing that bothered me about the attacks on Big East football was that the equally bad ACC seemed to go unnoticed. For the most part, I had no retort for all of the "Big Least" jokes. They might not be the most original, but they weren‘t off base.
I write this article as Florida and Oklahoma fight for the national championship. Baring overtime, we are a quarter away from crowning a new National Champion. Shortly after, the college sports world will turn its attention to men’s basketball.
There are currently nine teams from the Big East in both men’s basketball top 25 polls. The unbelievable depth of the conference led Pitt coach Jamie Dixon to say “I know I said a couple of times when people mentioned that we didn’t play any ranked teams on our non-conference schedule that it’s hard to schedule any when a third and now more than a third are in our conference.”
An astute basketball fan might point out that the Big East has not quite lived up to the pre-season hype so far this year and the Big 10 and ACC might end up being just as good.
While this might be true, it doesn’t matter. ESPN and everyone else in the media already anointed this year’s version of the Big East as one of the best conferences of all time, and they‘re not going to change their tune. No matter who is playing, you can’t watch a nationally televised game without hearing how great the Big East is.
And guess what—I love it.
Every time an ESPN analyst lauds Big East basketball, I smile. If they then mention how bad the SEC has been so far, even better. Any studio discussions on this year’s Big East and its place in history—picture me standing on my couch reenacting Shaq's freestyle about Kobe. Hell, if I get excited enough this might even make it on YouTube (ACC, SEC, tell me how my #!% tastes!).
There’s probably a good chance that you’re already sick of hearing about how great Big East basketball is.
Well, on behalf of Big East fans, we apologize for nothing.
Perhaps you should have been nicer to us in the fall.