College Football: 6 Reasons the Mountain West Is Better Than the Big East

Kevin TrahanAnalyst INovember 5, 2010

LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 30:  Matthew Tucker #29 of the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs runs for yardage against Eric Tuiloma #13 of the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium October 30, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. TCU won 48-6.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Of all the criticisms that the BCS receives—the exclusion of undefeated teams, the computers and no playoffs—perhaps the biggest is that it doesn't give enough credit to the non-traditional power conferences.

Over the past few years, the Mountain West Conference has become just as respected as the "Big Six" conferences—the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, ACC and Big East—by everyone besides the BCS.

Teams such as Utah and TCU have been to BCS bowls and Utah even knocked off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl after the 2008 season. Boise State, which will be joining the conference next season, has won two Fiesta Bowls, and Hawaii played in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.

Because of the MWC's dominance, many fans think it deserves an automatic bid to the BCS. One of the biggest arguments—it should receive the weak Big East's automatic spot. Let's take a look at the six reasons the Mountain West is better than the Big East.

Head-to-Head Meetings

The most obvious way to find out which conference is better is to look at head-to-head results from each conference's elite teams.

Of course, that is difficult for most conferences, as many of the top teams don't play another top opponent until the bowl game. But luckily, the Big East and Mountain West had a matchup of elite teams this year.

Utah defeated Pitt 27-24 at home earlier this season, as the Utes held star Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis to only 75 yards on 25 carries.

Sure, beating Pitt at home by three isn't a major accomplishment. But when the second-best team in one conference can beat the best team in another, the winner's conference has the upper hand in the great conference debate.

Fan Interest

Fan support for Big East basketball teams is second to none, evidenced by Syracuse's record crowd of 34,000+ against Villanova last season.

But in football, fan support is a different story.

Aside from West Virginia, Big East teams rarely receive the fan support that teams from other conferences do, and even the Mountaineers aren't that impressive. This is particularly evident in bowl games, as the Big East BCS representative is typically the last team picked because they travel poorly.

Mountain West teams, while not overly popular, still receive solid fan interest and have much more interest than teams from the Big East.

Bowl Records

The Mountain West is 24-14 in bowl games over the past decade while the Big East is only 32-19. But the numbers are inflated, as the Big East has a 12-1 record against non-BCS opponents.

Looking at only games against other BCS teams, the MWC is 11-7, while the Big East is 20-18. This means that the Mountain West has a better winning percentage against Big Six programs, even though it isn't even a Big Six conference.

Since bowl games are largely used to determine a conference's potential, the Mountain West deserves the Big East's automatic qualifying spot.

Competition against Elite Teams

Over the past few years, the Mountain West has been much more competitive against elite teams than the Big East has been.

As mentioned earlier, Utah beat Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl and the Big East has struggled against elite teams in the BCS, notably Cincinnati's embarrassing blowout loss to Florida in last year's Sugar Bowl.

To be the best, you have to beat the best, and that's something that the Big East has lacked in recent years and something that the Mountain West has done well.

Top 25 Rankings

While the Mountain West has two teams ranked in the Top Five of the current BCS rankings, the Big East doesn't have any teams ranked at all.

TCU is ranked third in the current rankings, while Utah is fifth. The two play this weekend and the winner could be vaulted into the coveted No. 2 spot and maybe even have a chance to play for a national championship.

The Big East's top team in the AP poll is Syracuse, at No. 27, and the only other team receiving votes is Pittsburgh, at No. 35.

While the current system has worked against Mountain West teams at times, it definitely is helping prove the conference's case against the Big East.

Big East Expansion

Typically, expansion makes leagues better. Big Ten expansion should bring in millions of dollars, and the addition of Nebraska should bring more prestige to an already historically good conference.

But the Big East is different.

While the league did vote to expand to 10 teams, that doesn't mean that it will get its first choices. TCU—yes, that TCU—is rumored to be invited, but despite the conference's automatic qualifier status, that might be a step down.

And when a team likely won't leave a non-Big Six conference for an automatic qualifier, then the automatic qualifier clearly isn't up to par.


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