Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Old Big East

Much has been written about the new Big East and the fact WVU has become an annual challenger for the league title in football. Many have pointed to the ACC raid as a catalyst for WVU because the three top dog programs. I did a little research as to how "top dog" the leaving programs were.

The Big East played a full schedule for 12 years with the 8 original football teams. The average finish (in terms of place) for Miami was 1.6, BC was 4.4, VT was 2.8. Miami was unquestionably the big dog. BC was an average team and VT was a top tier team. The remaining Big East teams averages were 3.1 for Syracuse, 3.5 for WVU, 5.1 for Pitt, and 6 for Rutgers (Temple had the Cos' but not a program so I didn't count their average finish so let's just say it was 7.5).

The numbers could lead one to argue that the leaving of VT and Miami opened the door for WVU, however, BC should not enter the conversation as the best finish for BC in a full Big East was third and they were an average forth or fifth place team. Of note for WVU is that the end of the Nehlen era and the beginning of Rodriguez may have sent the average down as WVU endured the 3 worst consecutive years in the Big East (4, 5, 7) in the last two years of Nehlen and first under Rodriguez. If those three years were eliminated WVU would have an average of 2.9. With VT, BC, and Miami still in the Big East WVU finished 2nd and 1st the final two years of the original conference with VT finishing 4th both years and BC finishing 4th and 5th (Miami was first both years). This helps to dispel any nonsense that WVU couldn't win with those three teams in the league with the current coaching philosophy. What the numbers do tend to refute is that Pitt was a standard or flag bearer for the Big East as the Panthers never finished higher than third and would rank sixth in the old Big East order of average finish.

Is the new Big East appreciably easier with USF, Louisville, and Cincinatti? The numbers are too few for clarity. WVU has moved up to an average of 1.5 and Rutgers to 2.5, but Syracuse has fallen to an average of 8 and Pitt has stayed steady at an average of 4.5. The fall of Syracuse has hurt Big East, but the improvement of Rutgers may be able to offset the down times for the Orange.

The old Big East had Miami and everyone else. A team would rise up for a few years to challenge and then fall back down. People tend to make arguments that it had Miami, VT, Syracuse, BC, Pitt, and WVU, but those teams were rarely good at the same time. Every team, including Miami if only for a year of probation, had some down years during the history of the old Big East. BC went 5, 4, 6, 6, 6 in a five year span; VT went 7, 4 to start and 4, 4 to finish; WVU went 4, 5, 7 during the change of the guard; Syracuse went 6, 6 to finish; and Pitt finished 6th or worse 6 times. However, there was always a challenger for Miami. Early and late it was WVU. During the McNabb years Syracuse took the reins, and VT made some serious noise from '95 until '00. Syracuse and VT each won or shared 3 titles while WVU won two. It is too early to tell if the new Big East will have a Miami or if it will be more competitive. From a competition standpoint the top four old Big East teams were Miami, VT, Syracuse, and WVU. The new Big East must be able to offset the losses of two and the fall of another with WVU, Louisville, Rutgers, and USF. The second half of the old Big East was BC, Pitt, Rutgers, and Temple. The new Big East has a second half of Pitt, Cincinatti, UConn, and Syracuse. There are two automatic wins in each and two teams with potential (OBE = BC/Pitt; NBE = Pitt/Cincinatti). The biggest question about the Big East is whether the new configuration will last long enough to find out if it can stack up to the old Big East.

No comments: