2011 Big East Preview - CFN Thoughts
South Florida QB B.J. Daniels
South Florida QB B.J. Daniels
Posted Aug 2, 2011

Preview 2011 - Thoughts from the CFNers on the 2011 Big East season

Preview 2011

Thoughts on the Big East

- 2011 Cincinnati Preview | 2011 Connecticut Preview
- 2011 Louisville Preview | 2011 Pitt Preview 
- 2011 Rutgers Preview | 2011 USF Preview
- 2011 Syracuse Preview | 2011 West Virginia Preview 

- 2011 Big East Preview | 2011 Big East Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Big East Schedules & Picks | 2011 Big East Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-Big East Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Big East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 Big East Big Questions2010 Big East Preview

E-mail Pete Fiutak
Follow Us ... http://twitter.com/ColFootballNews

- Here's the problem with the Big East; the "hot" programs never took things to another level. Remember when Rutgers was supposed to become a power? The 11-2, 2006 season wasn't all that long ago. Louisville didn't overcome the loss of Bobby Petrino, and it's been quickly forgotten how great the 2006, 12-1 Orange Bowl-winning team was. Remember when South Florida was 6-0 in 2007 and on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Cincinnati went from being on the cusp of playing for the national title to a loser in one year after Brian Kelly took off. If those four can get it back, the world will have a whole different view of the conference.

- It might not seem right and it might not be fair, but the world might have to start looking at West Virginia this year like Boise State. Winning one massive game at home - LSU - wouldn't necessarily overcome a squishy-soft schedule with a weakened Maryland one of the toughest other games.

- With that said, beating LSU might be enough. If the Tigers end up beating Oregon to start the season, and if they're in the top three, or higher, on September 24th, the national title shot will be there for West Virginia's taking if it's 3-0 going into the showdown.

- Not having two head coaches is the biggest break the Mountaineers could've gotten. The Dana Holgorsen-Bill Stewart marriage was never, ever, ever going to work.

- The Holgorsen era hasn't exactly gotten off to a flying start PR-wise. The offense had better work.

- I'm making the call: All eight Big East teams will be bowl eligible.

- Cincinnati at Tennessee, Louisville at Kentucky, Pitt at Iowa, Rutgers at North Carolina, South Florida at Notre Dame, Syracuse at USC, and West Virginia at Maryland. The Big East will throw a party if it can come out of those brutal road battles 2-5. Anything better and the conference will take on a whole new look and attitude.

The Big East had four teams - HALF THE CONFERENCE - finishing in the bottom 25 in America in total offense, and every team but Cincinnati finished in the bottom half of the country in yards.

- Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros and West Virginia QB Geno Smith will wage a phenomenal war for the Big East Player of the Year honors.

- I'm not sure why the Big East can't make a Texas-Big 12 pitch to Notre Dame. The powers-that-be have been adamant about wanting to stay independent, but a move to the Big East makes sense because 1) unlike a move to the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, the program would be the bright shining star of the league and would be THE power team. 2) It makes sense from a basketball standpoint. 3) Getting Notre Dame might be big enough for the other programs that an unbalanced deal would be welcomed. No, the other teams wouldn't be happy about the Irish getting more money and a bigger piece of the pie, but it would be worth it.

- TCU to the Big East is a huge win-win for both sides. Many thought TCU would be a perfect fit for the Big 12, but the conference didn't need more Texas teams and TCU wouldn't be too happy about being swallowed up by the bigger programs. In the Big East, the school expands its reach, its profile, and its recruiting base. Getting TCU gets the Big East into Texas and sets the table for possibly grabbling more programs like, maybe, Houston, UCF, and/or Southern Miss.

By Richard Cirminiello

Message to league honchos regarding expansion: Forget about Villanova and Temple, who'll be little more than camp bodies for the conference. Instead, go hard after UCF, a natural rival to South Florida, which would bring the Orlando market and an up-and-coming program.

For the second straight year, the Big East will fail to produce a Top 25 team in the final polls. TCU's arrival cannot come soon enough.

The fact that there's no true frontrunner in the Big East is one of the conference's biggest draws of 2011. Sure, none of the eight members is going to make a push for a national championship, but the league title once again may not be decided until the final weekend of the regular season.

Geno Smith plus Dana Holgorsen will be an ideal marriage in Morgantown. The coach inherits a star pupil, and the quarterback gets to learn from one of the game's more inventive young minds. They'll make each other better over the next two seasons.

While most everyone focuses on the aerial portion of Pitt's new offense, RB Ray Graham will be the biggest beneficiary. The junior, who proved himself as Dion Lewis' backup a year ago, is going to love running through the wide lanes that Todd Graham's attack creates.

Cincinnati will be one of the Big East's more interesting squads of 2011. If second-year head coach Butch Jones can't capitalize on the returns of Zach Collaros, RB Isaiah Pead and all 11 defensive starters, he might not be invited back for a third season.

A lot of portfolios could be saved if South Florida was on the NASDAQ. Now that Skip Holtz has some traction in Tampa, the Bulls are poised to become a perennial contender for a BCS bowl game.

Which quarterback shows up for the Bulls in 2011, the one who was named Meineke Bowl MVP or the one who threw just nine touchdown passes during the regular season? The answer will dictate whether South Florida can contend for a Big East crown this early in Holtz's tenure.

Question marks in the backfield aside, Paul Pasqualoni inherits a talented and experienced Connecticut team. The linemen, in particular, such as C Moe Petrus, LT Mike Ryan, DT Kendall Reyes and DE Jesse Joseph, will make everyone around them a little better.

Few players will be missed this season more than Syracuse RB Delone Carter. He gave the Orange a much-needed identity and physicality on offense that Antwon Bailey will have a difficult time replicating.

Louisville will struggle on offense, but once again overachieve for Charlie Strong on defense. The coach is cobbling together a solid collection of defenders, headed by SS Hakeem Smith, DE B.J. Butler and LB Daniel Brown.

Greg Schiano is facing a genuine crisis at Rutgers. It's not so much that the Scarlet Knights went 4-8 a year ago as a general dearth of talent compared to the league's top teams.

By Matt Zemek

Say what you want about the pure quality of Big East football, but for pure theater, there won't be a better conference to watch in 2011. While there's no denying that the 2010 season was one unending Keystone Cops reel, the storylines connected to the upcoming Big East campaign are hard to top.

Will West Virginia's casino-frequenting, alcohol-imbibing, backstab-attempt-surviving, Bill-Stewart-avoiding coach inspire poise, production and team cohesion? Not your everyday storyline in Morgantown.

Will Pittsburgh be able to overcome years upon years of underachievement and failure with its third coach in an eight-month span, a coach who was hastily hired after his predecessor pulled a George O'Leary by earning a pink slip just a heartbeat after signing a deal to replace Dave Wannstedt? Not your usual fare in the Steel City or at any other program in the United States.

Will South Florida, though still a youthful program, manage to find its stride and win its first Big East title two seasons after its patriarch, Jim Leavitt, essentially fired himself due to misconduct with players on his own team (not the other team, as was the case for a man named Woody Hayes in 1978)? No standard-issue fare in Tampa, to be sure.

Will Louisville – mighty and muscular in 2006, then reduced to a complete mess three seasons later – steal the league crown thanks to a coach whose career progress has been slowed due to nothing other than institutional racism (including institutional discomfort with his interracial marriage)? The journey of Charlie Strong represents just another non-cookie-cutter drama in the Big East this year.

And oh, all of the above programs will be playing under the enormous pressure created by the fact that Texas Christian is poised to rule the roost when it joins the Big East in 2012. Again, just your anything-but-normal Big East pressure point for the coming season.

And you thought Syracuse gunning for back-to-back bowl wins was going to be a compelling story. Not in this year's Big East – not on a comparative scale, at any rate.

West Virginia will win the league. South Florida will finish second, Louisville third, Pittsburgh fourth.

Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee

- West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith will be a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, and probably will be a finalist. It will happen. The combination of Smith and new head coach / noted gambler Dana Holgorsen will make that offense unstoppable again, and will vault WVU to the Big East title.

- Even though they'll make the BCS, the Mountaineers are still looking at 3-4 losses, which means that the Big East will be bringing up the rear in the BCS yet again.

- Biggest game of the year: The Backyard Brawl, Pitt at West Virginia on the Friday after Thanksgiving. That game will act as the de-facto Big East title game. Rivalry game + title on the line? Yes, please.

- Charlie Strong will have Louisville in the conversation for the title, despite returning only three starters on offense. With conference games at Cincinnati, West Virginia, Connecticut and USF; plus out-of-conference games at Kentucky and North Carolina, the schedule is really the only thing that will hold the Cardinals back this season.

- It's clear that Greg Schiano missed his window. Rutgers will again wallow in anonymity, and Schiano will begin to worry whether or not Rutgers will continue to want him, not the other way around.

- The Big East illustrates my biggest hesitation to the implementation of a college football playoff. If - and I mean IF - it ever comes to fruition, a college football playoff would undoubtedly incorporate some semblance of the BCS system, most likely automatic qualifiers for BCS conference champions. UConn didn't deserve a spot in a hypothetical college football playoff last season, and the Big East winner probably won't this year either. TCU coming will help its resume, but the Big East needs help in football. A lot of it.

- 2011 Cincinnati Preview | 2011 Connecticut Preview
- 2011 Louisville Preview | 2011 Pitt Preview 
- 2011 Rutgers Preview | 2011 USF Preview
- 2011 Syracuse Preview | 2011 West Virginia Preview 

- 2011 Big East Preview | 2011 Big East Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN Big East Schedules & Picks | 2011 Big East Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-Big East Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Big East Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 Big East Big Questions2010 Big East Preview