Message to Big East Football: Catch Up. You're Lagging Behind

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Message to Big East Football: Catch Up. You're Lagging Behind
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In a recent article, I wrote that Boise State and TCU don't deserve a preseason top-five ranking. The reason for this was simple: They need to earn what they get.

Well, it's a two-way street.

Like non-BCS teams, teams in BCS conferences have an obligation to earn whatever ranking they achieve. Yes, that means you too, Big East.

Everybody knows the strengths of the Big East. It puts nearly half of the conference in the NCAA basketball tournament every year.

They're kind of like the SEC of basketball.

As of late, it's not the SEC of football. It's not the Big Ten, Big 12, or Pac-10 either. It could compete with the ACC until 2005 when Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College jumped ship. It's leading the way on the hardwood, but pulling up the rear on the gridiron.

No other sport puts the kind of emphasis on conference alignment that college football does. BCS bowls are the ultimate "members only" events, and those who are deemed worthy enough enjoy a large amount of benefits once the post-season rolls around.

Not to knock the system (I'll save that for another time), but if teams are going to enjoy the benefits that come with their BCS membership, they better perform at a level that warrants that membership.

As a whole, the Big East has failed to perform at that level.

Hasn't the Big East featured some of the best talent within the past few seasons?

No doubt. Pat White, Ray Rice, Steve Slaton, and LeSean McCoy were as good as anybody out there. Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald might be the best receiver currently in the NFL down in Arizona.

Still, the Big East doesn't seem to match the abilities of other BCS conferences.

UConn head coach Randy Esdall disagrees.

During a live chat on ESPN.com, he professed his belief that the Big East is "As strong as any conference in the country, when you look at the eight teams and how competitive it is each and every week."

Sorry, Coach Esdall, but you can't make a very compelling case.

A current Big East team hasn't won an outright national championship since 1976, when Tony Dorsett led Pittsburgh to a 12-0 record. In addition, the Big East is the only team that doesn't include a team that has won a BCS National Championship.

The Panthers have one of the richest histories in college football history, but currently aren't what they were under Johnny Majors.

They've won only one Big East title, and were trounced in their only BCS bowl appearance, losing to Utah 35-7.

Every BCS conference stands on the shoulders of one or two premiere teams. Teams that consistently garner national championship consideration and finish ranked in or around the top five or ten.

Here's a closer look at each conference's go-to teams. The number denotes the total number of BCS appearances between the top three teams of each conference.

ACC: Miami, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech (9)

Big 12: Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska (13)

Big East: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh (5)

Big Ten: Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State (12)

Pac-10: USC, Oregon, Oregon State (8)

SEC: Alabama, Florida, LSU (13)

Clearly, the top of the Big East hasn't matched up with the tops of the other BCS conferences.

Before you argue that the Pac-10, Big 12, and the ACC lack depth and rely solely on their big-name components, take a look at the rest of the Big East.

Rutgers, UConn, Louisville, Syracuse and South Florida.

Louisville enjoyed some short-lived glory in 2007, winning the Orange Bowl and finishing number five in the AP rankings. Rutgers has been fairly strong this past decade, ranking number 16 after going 11-2 and winning the Texas bowl.

Syracuse finished number 18 after appearing in the 1999 Orange Bowl, but haven't been bowl-eligible since 1994.

UConn and South Florida have been solid at times, but haven't become nationally relevant.

When breaking it down, the Big East looks to be even more top-heavy than the other BCS conferences. That's not good, seeing as it's top ranks far below the anchoring teams of other BCS conferences.

The Big East has gradually fallen behind the other elite conferences, both in BCS wins and national recognition. Yet it still receives all the benefits of being on top of the college football world.

To put it bluntly, the entire conference needs to step it up. Top to bottom.

It's leaders need to catch up with the likes of Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, and USC. It's mid-section and lower half need to become more competitive and win more non-conference games against BCS opponents.

In the same way that non-BCS teams must earn their right to BCS glory, BCS teams have a responsibility to play at a level that warrants their easier path to BCS games.

The Big East needs to start pulling its weight.

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