The Big East: College Football's Little Sister

Eric DinoCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2009

When the Florida Gators and Oklahoma Sooners wrapped up a rousing BCS championship game, many felt that the power conferences in college football were properly represented.

Throughout the year, we heard of the rigorous tough man challenge known as the SEC and the high powered shootouts in the Big 12. While these conferences stole the national headlines throughout the season with the occasional update on the mediocre Big 10 or the USC conference (PAC 10) added in there, many lost sight of the giant train wreck out in the East.

Forever slated as college football's up-and-comers, the Big East experienced a huge let down this past season. Everything that was supposed to be an up became a down for the conference and the conference's slide looks to continue this season.

To try and understand the Big East's slide would be difficult and to try and fix the conference would be a disaster, but an attempt should be made before the once up-and-coming conference is further destroyed.
Here's an attempt at dissection.

Failed Expectations
-After the absolute domination of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, West Virginia looked like a dark horse national championship contender at the beginning of the season. Who could blame the Mountaineer fans? A full off-season under charismatic coach Bill Stewart and a new found dedication to the air attack gave fans a new hope. The most explosive backfield in the game didn't hurt either.

But WVU was able to replicate past seasons, except losing early rather than later. The offense couldn't find an identity with the running and or passing of Pat White and the defense lacked discipline and was physically overmatched.

-Mike Teel was supposed to light up the score board and the competition. All the measurables; arm strength, height, experience. Not to mention 2 excellent receivers in Tiquan Underwood and Kenny Britt. Ray Rice's opting for the draft opened everything up for the Scarlet Knights, but it all came crashing down...and early in the season too.

-USF always seems to be at the top of the break out teams list. Jim Leavitt has been bringing good recruiting classes to Tampa and had the Bulls headed in the right direction.

They were returning a good amount of experienced players like Matt Grothe, George Selvie, Mike Ford, Taurus Johnson among others and were mixing in a good amount of youth too.

But same old story, as USF climbed, a hiccup against Pitt turned into a giant choke for the rest of the season.

-LeSean McCoy was the best running back to come out of Pitt since Tony Dorsett and was a Heisman Candidate but Dave Wantstedt and his good recruiting classes could not muster enough of a passing game to make serious noise.

-Steve Kragthorpe was supposed to have Louisville back by now, but his offenses have become stale. It's either the talent that Kragthorpe brings to Louisville is weak or his schemes are weak, or maybe it's both.

Lack of Star Power
True, the Big east had the most explosive home run threat in Pat White and Noel Devine is a good second fiddle, but the conference lacked big names whether it be on the field or on the sidelines.

-The conferences best team had absolutely no star power, (no offense bearcat fans) but challenge any any non-cincy fan and they would name Bob Huggins and Kenyon Martin as the biggest names to come out of Cincinnati.

-Same thing could be said for Louisville (though Victor Anderson made some waves), Syracuse

-USF's "stars" were as inconsistent as their team was. At times, Matt Grothe looked like a practice squad QB and George Selvie couldn't solve a double team for most of the year.

-The two best running backs in the conference were in extremely bland offenses. LeSean McCoy and Donald Brown both had excellent seasons but both were bogged down by weak passing attacks.

-Lack of presence in the NFL, the first player that might smell the first round is McCoy and that's late in the 1st round. Pat White is having trouble turning people on the fact he can actual be a pro signal caller.

-As an add-on to the previous point, the most noted player to come out of the conference in the pros is Donovan McNabb who is known more for not winning the big one rather than his success in the pros. In fact, it looked like McNabb was done in Philly until their turn around. 

-Every conference has it's "sexy" coach except the Big East. The SEC has the best crop of coaches with Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Mark Richt and newcomer Lane Kiffin. Heck, Steve Spurrier was once considered the best coach around. The PAC-10 has Pete Carroll, the Big 10 has the sweater vest, the Big 12 has Big game Bob, Mack Brown and Mike Leach looked like a legitimate genius this year. Kyle Wittingham was able to outscheme Nick Saban and Chris Petersen is a big program away from god status. Both rep the non-BCS schools well.

The Big East has been more of a platform for coaches to launch from. Petrino bolted for the pros, Rich Rod payed to go to Michigan and Brian Kelly has been linked to new jobs and it will only be a matter of time when he will want the big bucks.


All these things have hurt the Big East in the past few years and will no doubt to continue to hurt the conference. The drop-off will continue as Pat White, LeSean McCoy, and Donald Brown will be playing on Sundays this year.

The Big East will surely be passed by a smaller conference because of the lack of strong recruiting classes, the weakness of the conference's non-marquee teams and a knack for inconsistency and vanilla offenses.

Is there a sign of help anywhere?