People continue to question the validity of the Big East as a BCS conference.
Do they still deserve an automatic bid to the BCS?
Do they have a legit National Championship contender?
Will they even survive conference realignment and expansion?
On that last one, I don’t think so.
If the Big Ten takes any teams from the Big East to form a sizable conference, 14-16 teams total, I would assume the SEC and ACC would make some moves and the remaining Big East teams would be picked up. Most likely the SEC invites a few from the ACC and the ACC remainder join with the Big East teams.
The basketball only schools could try to stand on their own.
Villanova, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Providence, and DePaul may be able to make it. I don’t know if Notre Dame would stick with the conference if this happened.
In all likelihood, they would have to try and get a few more schools to join. Perhaps Xavier, Old Dominion, and Richmond. But that is another article all together.
Back to football. And back to now.
The Big East will be welcoming in new coaches from top to bottom.
Last year's champs, Cincinnati, lost they coach before one of their biggest games in school history when Brian Kelly jumped at the chance to go coach at Notre Dame. In a follow the leader fashion, Cincinnati went to the well and got the coach that replaced Kelly when they took him.
Kelly went from Central Michigan to Cincinnati to Notre Dame.
His Central Michigan successor is now his Cincinnati successor as well.
Butch Jones took over Central Michigan and the continued to win. I believe Cincinnati will continue to win as well with Jones at the helm.
South Florida had to let go of their first and only head coach they have ever known in Jim Leavitt after some controversy, allegations, and an investigation.
Taking his place is Skip Holtz. Holtz was the coach at East Carolina where he won back to back Conference USA titles. South Florida has been a middle tier team in the conference since joining the Big East. Holtz could push them to the next level.
Louisville brings in a little SEC flavor as former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong takes over the Cardinals and his first career head coaching job.
Rebuilding a program that won the conference in 2006 along with a BCS bowl win over the ACC champion, but then fell down to an eighth and seventh place finishes the last couple seasons will not be an easy task.
I’ve noticed a pattern lately and that is that the Big East seems to be going to the Orange Bowl every other year. Since they were in the Sugar last year, I would be willing to put money on the champion being in the Orange this year.
The remaining bowls hold up fairly well and even take a step up in overall competition.
The Champs Sports Bowl is now the second bowl for the Big East and they will face a selection from the top part of the ACC. Previously the Gator Bowl was here but with a similar match up.
The conferences also meet in the Car Care Bowl but with the Big East three vs. the ACC sixth team.
Two of the next three bowls are the same as before but the new bowl is where the upgrade comes in.
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is taking the place of the International Bowl. The competition is changing from a MAC team to a Big XII team.
It really doesn’t matter what team from the MAC it was or what team from the Big XII it will be, it is a step up.
The Big East looks fairly wide open with what I think is very little separation between the top contenders. Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati should be the main players in the Big East title race.
West Virginia is bringing back almost everyone on both sides of the ball and gets Cincinnati at home. Road trips to Pitt and Connecticut could be the stumbling blocks but I think they pull it out.