West Virginia Football: One Cause of WVU's Poor National Perception

Bob AllenCorrespondent IIJuly 14, 2011

The Big East in its current configuration is easily considered to be the worst Bowl Championship Series conference in college football. In fact, after last season, once all the bowl games were played and done, not one team from the Big East finished in the top 25 of any major poll. The conference championship was a three way tie between Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh. To add insult to injury, none of the current members of the Big East have won an outright national title since Pittsburgh in 1976.

Now it is not my intention to completely disrespect the Big East. The league has done an excellent job of keeping members from being “raided” by other conferences and has even convinced Texas Christian to join. TCU is expected to be the yearly favorite to win the Big East by some parties and will no doubt increase the level of competition and performance of the conference.

Now let’s talk about the West Virginia Mountaineers. WVU has an overall record of 87-39 in the last 10 seasons; at home, they have an overall record of 52-12 during that period. They have played in two BCS bowl games in which they won both as an underdog; the first against Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl and other against Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl.

The Mountaineers can be considered the best and most consistent team in the conference year in and year out over the past decade. They have won or been a part of five conference titles in the past ten seasons, and with the exception of 2001, never finished worse than third on the list in the final Big East standings. This leads us to believe that they are the most consistent team in the Big East.

So if you placed West Virginia in say a conference like the ACC, they would still be a good team and would not have to deal with the bad reputation of the Big East. Now if you are talking about putting WVU in say, the SEC, I can tell you that I am unwilling to make any rash conjectures about how they would perform.  In theory, what I am saying is that West Virginia’s national perception would improve by merely moving away from the Big East as it is now.

Athlon Sports recently ranked the best coaching jobs in the Big East in which West Virginia was ranked number one. In their final verdict, they had this to say, “West Virginia is the best job in a BCS league, which makes it attractive. But the relatively low national profile of the Big East prevents it from being an elite job.”

Here are two teams from the SEC that I think have a bad reputation because they play against some stout competition on most Saturdays.


Vanderbilt Commodores

The Commodores are no doubt the worst performing team in the toughest conference. Every year, they have to face off against some of the nation’s best teams in Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss, etc.

Vanderbilt gets abused nearly every season; however, I have to wonder how well they would fare if they were in a conference like C-USA, ACC or the Big East? Could the Commodores win a conference championship in either of those leagues? I think the answer is yes.

I feel that Vanderbilt is perceived to be a bad football team because of the constant high quality of their opponents in the South Eastern Conference. If you change their yearly opponents to include teams from say, Conference USA like Marshall, Tulsa, UCF, Memphis and UTEP, then you get what I’m trying to say. Not to bash Conference USA; there are some good teams there. However, good C-USA teams and good SEC teams are quite different. 

By the way, I am not a fan of the SEC, so please don’t start getting on to me as being biased or anything like that. I feel the SEC is the toughest conference to compete in. I don’t have to like it; however, I do acknowledge it as being true. The last five national champions have come from the SEC.


Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky for the some of the same reasons as Vanderbilt, Kentucky in the past 10 seasons has a conference record of 22-58. In fact in those seasons, the Wildcats have not had a single season with a conference winning percentage better than 50 percent. Put them in the Big East or ACC, and they could compete for conference titles. However, until something like this actually takes place, the Wildcats will have to be very aggressive in recruiting and on game day in order to make any head way in the South.