2009 Spring Preview - Why No Big East Love?
Pitt DE Greg Romeus
Ready to get fired up for the 2009 season that's still six months away? As spring ball kicks in, here's part seven of the 20 big off-season questions. Just how bad is the Big East, and what does it need to do to get some respect? What players need to have the best spring sessions? This and more in the Big East pre-spring overview.
Spring Preview 2009
The 20 Big Questions ...
2009 Big East Team-By-Team
2009 Big East Composite
2009 Big East Spring
With spring ball underway,
here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the offseason, beginning with
the top non-conference games.
14. Will The Big East Ever Be Loved?
It should be.
It’s not quite fair to think
about what might have been, but think about what might have been. Had
the ACC not swooped in and ripped away Miami, Boston College, and
Virginia Tech, the Big East would be fantastic. Virginia Tech and Boston
College have played in the last two ACC championship games, and while
Miami has struggled, it still would’ve been a key piece of the overall
puzzle. Factor in some of the great Louisville teams when Bobby Petrino
was around, Cincinnati under Brian Kelly, the rise of South Florida, and
the greatness of West Virginia, and the conference would’ve been
Maybe it’s because of the lack of size with
only eight teams. Maybe it’s because the league seems like Conference
USA-Plus with Louisville, Cincinnati, and South Florida relative
newcomers. Maybe it’s because the conference is seen as a basketball
Maybe it’s just because the college football world
has been lazy.
No, there isn’t the one killer program to anchor
the conference, even though West Virginia probably deserves the honor,
but there has been a whole bunch of success that’s been largely ignored.
Cincinnati has won 21 games over the last two seasons with a
fun, hard-nosed team that has overcome adversity, mostly because of
quarterback injuries. Try getting more than a yawn out of most fans when
it comes to the Bearcats. Connecticut hasn’t exactly beaten a slew of
non-conference killers, but a wee bit of credit has to be given for
BCS-league wins over Baylor, Virginia, Duke and Indiana over the last
three years (I said a wee bit of credit). Louisville was a field goal against Rutgers away
from playing for the 2006 national title, West Virginia was a home choke
against Pitt away from playing for the 2007 national title (knocking
Florida out of the BCS title game), Pitt came up with wins over Iowa and
Notre Dame last year, and South Florida beat Kansas and NC State. In
other words, the league has represented itself well when pushed.
The league deserves more attention and more respect, but just when
it seems like it’s time for a rise up into prominence, in comes the
rebuilding season. Every team in the league has major issues that go
beyond just replacing a player or two. There’s a major loss of star
power with West Virginia’s Pat White, Pitt’s LeSean McCoy, UConn’s
Donald Brown, and Rutgers’ Mike Teel are just a few of the key players
Syracuse is starting from scratch, Cincinnati has one
starter returning on defense, Connecticut is going from the stone age to
high-octane with a new offense, and at least half of the league’s teams,
maybe more, will have a new starting quarterback. So while there’s work
to be done, the conference still has to fight on to try to get out of
the No. 6 slot in public perception among the BCS leagues. It’s not
going to happen this year, but that doesn’t mean this won’t be one of
the most entertaining leagues going.
The Top 5 Players Who Need A Big
1. Jarrett Brown, QB West Virginia
2. Mike Williams, WR
3. Bill Stull, QB Pitt
4. Aaron Webster, S Cincinnati
5. Adam Froman, QB Louisville
The Top 5 Position
1. The entire Cincinnati defense
3. South Florida
4. Louisville quarterback
5. Pitt running back
The 5 Biggest Big East Spring
1. Can Jarrett Brown be a star? He has always been a
top shelf talent, but it’s asking a lot for him to do for West Virginia
what Pat White did.
2. The Cincinnati defense … who’s starting? The
defending conference champion has to undergo a wholesale personnel
change on D.
3. Will the UConn offense work? The Huskies will start
to speed things up with a no-huddle attack to try to get things moving.
4. Can Doug Marrone revive Syracuse? The slate is being wiped clean with
a new coaching staff, a new style and a new way of doing things.
The South Florida running game … do the Bulls have anyone to provide a
steady complement to QB Matt Grothe?
The Spring Big East Team Rankings
2. West Virginia
The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of
1. Jarrett Brown, QB West Virginia
2. Matt Grothe, QB
3. Mardy Gilyard, WR Cincinnati
4. George Selvie, DE
5. Noel Devine, RB West Virginia