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Big East Football: A Big Folly?
The Big East Football Conference is undergoing its biggest changes since its founding in 1991. Gone are the undying powers of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College along with the league’s doormat, Temple. New to the conference are Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. Some call the changes a great madness; while others believe the conference will shake off its losses and move forward stronger and wiser.
Three letters have hurt the Big East Conference in recent years. They are: ACC. ACC, as in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which attracted and then persuaded three schools in the Far East to make the jump to the ACC. For the Big East, the three schools represented the biggest football powerhouses in the league as well as two highly successful men’s basketball teams: Boston College and Miami. In this age of lucrative TV deals and super conferences, the three schools that defected took the money and ran away.
Purists were left howling at the Big East Conference’s ACC starts and trolling. Some suggested lawsuits, while others said there was no legal requirement for the schools to stay.
Once it was confirmed that all three starting schools would leave, the Big East Conference faced a dilemma that could only undermine its ability to not just thrive, but survive. It was previously ruled that Temple would be kicked out because their program didn’t live up to Big East Conference standards, or so it was said. Still, Temple was not invited back, and the Big East began looking elsewhere for schools to fill its exhausted ranks. So the Big East turned to Conference USA.
Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida – as well as Marquette who does not play football – have all been persuaded to leave Conference USA for the Big East. For some, this is where the madness begins.
Are the three new schools up to the level of the programs they replace? Absolutely not. Louisville comes closest and is probably nearly equal to Boston College in strength, but their football program doesn’t compare to Virginia Tech or Miami. Cincinnati compares much more favorably to Temple’s defunct team, while South Florida is a new 1-A Division program and was only added to replace Miami as the hot weather school of the league. Just kidding…I think.
The remaining conference schools are Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and West Virginia. West Virginia is the current conference leader while Rutgers enjoys a weakened conference and also sits near the top. The remaining schools are being rebuilt, making the Big East Conference even weaker this year.
Pundits and tipsters know that the Grand Est is in shock and they understand that there is no guarantee that the current league setup will produce football programs at the level of dearly deceased members. In my opinion, give the conference two or three years and you may find that with just a few years of excellent recruiting, new leaders will emerge. Now may be the time for Rutgers, Louisville and South Florida to kick things up a notch or two, securing valuable television rights and lucrative bowl deals for the conference.
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