Big East Football Is Very Much Alive

Gary BrownCorrespondent IISeptember 2, 2010

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 07:  Robert McClain #42 of the Connecticut Huskies runs for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bearcats during the Big East Conference game at Nippert Stadium on November 7, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The cataclysmic shift that was rumored to end the existence of the Big East Conference did not happen this Summer, but the apocalyptic realignment could be right around the corner for the Big East.

Even though the Big 12 got smaller and the Pac-10 and Big Ten grew, the Big East remained unscathed.

There was talk of two or three mega, 16-team conferences forming in the college football world. None of that happened....yet.

In the era where money is the key basis for any monumental shift, the days of the super conferences could be close.

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But, for now, fans of Big East football can rest easily.

The conference is intact, and if you listen to Commissioner John Marinatto, the conference is thriving.

Marinatto said two weeks ago at Big East Media Day that the Big East was “is stronger today in every way than it ever has been.”

This is a bold statement for a commissioner who had to wait and see if the Big Ten would poach any of his teams in an attempt to form the largest football conference in the country.

Marinatto would not let his coaches talk about what the Big Ten may be planning. Not talking about expansion can mean only one thing, Marinatto is still worried about what his conference big brother to the west, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, is going to do next.

No matter what happens on the expansion front, the Big East could be poised to have one of its most solid campaigns ever.

The 2009 season had several uplifting occurrences and performances.

From Cincinnati's run at perfection to Pitt’s Dion Lewis rushing for nearly 1,800 yards and second-team All-American honors, it was a good year for the conference. Lewis plus several other explosive playmakers return in 2010.

The Big East has also fared well in bowl games over the past two years. The league is 16-6 the past two years.

There were no BCS wins in that time span, but league members have several opportunities in the regular season to prove they belong this year.

With Oklahoma at Cincinnati, South Florida at Florida and Miami, UConn at Michigan, Miami at Pittsburgh, West Virginia at LSU and Pittsburgh at Utah highlighting the non-conference schedule, the Big East has challenged some of the premiere teams in the country.

If the league's teams can pull off a few wins, it will only bode well for TV contracts in the future.

The league is locked into its current contract for another four years, but another few good years on the field could have broadcast companies bargaining for rights to air the Big East's games and that would be a huge win for the conference that was proclaimed dead earlier this Summer.

The league could see a lot of green come its way in September 2012 because that is when the conference can begin negotiations with ESPN.

Another aspect in the league's favor is that for the first time in a long time, it is more than a two-team race for the league title.

Sure, Pittsburgh is slated by many organizations to win the championship, but the two through four teams vary depending on publication.

Cincinnati, West Virginia, and Connecticut trade places in those spots across the many publications. South Florida and Syracuse may not have the experience needed to compete for the title, but both should be able to pull off some upsets this season.

The Panthers, Mountaineers, Huskies, and Bearcats could all be ranked in the Top-25 by the end of the year, and the Panthers and Mountaineers are ranked by USA Today in the preseason poll.

It never hurts to have parity in the league.


This CSM original content written by Matt Nascone