2009 Spring Preview - Why No Big East Love?
Pitt DE Greg Romeus
Pitt DE Greg Romeus
Posted Mar 11, 2009

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 ... No. 14

By Pete Fiutak 

- 2009 Big East Team-By-Team Schedule
- 2009 Big East Composite Schedule

- 2009 Big East Spring Preview

Spring Preview 2009
20 Big Questions

- No, 15 - Does the Big Ten suck?

- No. 16 - Was the Big 12 exposed?

- No, 17 - Just how good is the ACC?
- No. 18 - Are we any closer to a playoff?

- No, 19 - Potential BCS Busters

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50
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 considered special.

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 conference.

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 gone.

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 Spring
1. Jarrett Brown, QB West Virginia
2. Mike Williams, WR Syracuse
3. Bill Stull, QB Pitt
4. Aaron Webster, S Cincinnati
5. Adam Froman, QB Louisville

The Top 5 Position Concerns/Battles
1. The entire Cincinnati defense
2. Rutgers quarterback 
3. South Florida offensive line
4. Louisville quarterback
5. Pitt running back

The 5 Biggest Big East Spring Storylines
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.
5. 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
1. Pitt
2. West Virginia
3. Cincinnati
4. Rutgers
5. South Florida
6. Connecticut
7. Louisville
8. Syracuse

The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of The Year
1. Jarrett Brown, QB West Virginia
2. Matt Grothe, QB South Florida
3. Mardy Gilyard, WR Cincinnati
4. George Selvie, DE South Florida
5. Noel Devine, RB West Virginia