No so Big Least after all: Maligned conference doing just fine with 3 ranked, undefeated teams

  • Article by: JOHN KEKIS , Associated Press
  • Updated: October 10, 2012 - 3:32 PM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Excuse Big East commissioner Mike Aresco if he's feeling a bit giddy this week. When the dust settled after weekend play, he still had three undefeated teams ranked in the AP Top 25.

While nine ranked teams lost, No. 18 Louisville, No. 20 Rutgers and No. 21 Cincinnati boosted their combined record to 14-0 and remained among the 14 undefeated teams in major college football.

The best news for Aresco is that all three are staying put as he continues to rebuild the much-maligned conference.

"Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers are some of our core programs, and they have strong football," Aresco said. "What it shows also is that, going forward, we will have even stronger football. It's only going to get better. This is early evidence of it."

Boise State (4-1), currently No. 24, joins the conference next year. That should more than make up for the departure of Pittsburgh and Syracuse after this season as they make the jump to the Atlantic Coast Conference. If only West Virginia — 5-0 and ranked No. 5 — hadn't bolted for the Big 12.

"When we bring in the new schools, we're going to have a powerful football conference top to bottom," Aresco said. "It's going to be very competitive, very rugged."

It already is. Just ask Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, whose Hokies used to play in the Big East.

After Pittsburgh started the season under first-year coach Paul Chryst with a stunning two-touchdown loss to Youngstown State, which plays at Division I's second level, and followed that with a loss at Cincinnati, Pitt upset then-No. 13 Virginia Tech, 35-17, forcing the Hokies into four first-half turnovers.

Tech hasn't been the same since, also losing to Cincinnati and North Carolina. So, for the record, the Hokies, another former league member, are 0-2 vs. the Big East.

"(The Big East is) having a good year, that's for sure," Beamer said. "Cincinnati was for real, and the day we played Pittsburgh ... they were good, so I have nothing but respect for them."

Since 2006, the Big East is 215-89 (70.7 winning percentage) in nonconference play, behind only the SEC (304-70, 81.3 percent) and the Big 12 (259-86, 75.1 percent). And since 1998, the Big East has the best postseason record (43-27) of any Bowl Subdivision conference during the Bowl Championship Series era.

So, why is the conference always an afterthought?

"Because we beat each other up," Louisville offensive guard Jake Smith said. "There aren't too many unbeaten teams that come out of the conference. It's tough. I won't say we'll have the national champion every year, but I think there are really good teams in the Big East."

It's just that nobody seems to notice.

Such is life in a league with no dominant teams, even if players such as Baltimore Ravens tailback Ray Rice (Rutgers) or New England Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones (Syracuse) quickly become household names as pros.

"This conference is really underrated, honestly," Smith said. "There are a lot of really good players that come out of the Big East. You don't have to look far to find great talent.

"It's kind of offensive when you see somebody just bashing the conference that you're in. Last year, when West Virginia was in the conference, they came and blew out Clemson (70-33 in the Orange Bowl), and then they moved to another conference and have become a top-10 team — and that's the team we beat last year. I think it's the perception nationally. I don't think that's how it should be."

Aresco already knows he won't have three unbeaten teams at season's end, and he's OK with that.

"It's always been a conference that has been able to reinvent itself and get even stronger," Aresco said. "We're doing it now. It's not surprising to me that we've got teams that are in the Top 25. It's nice to have undefeated teams, but they've got to play each other."

Not yet. Which means Aresco still has three good bargaining chips on his side as the league continues negotiations on a new television contract.

"It's great timing," Aresco said. "It sends the signal that I've talked about. We are a strong football conference, we're a valuable football conference, we're going to be valuable to our media partners. Not only is it great timing, but it foreshadows the future."

The drawback to the start, though, has been everyone else. If you take out the three ranked teams, no other league member is over .500. But at least, there are the Cardinals, Scarlet Knights and Bearcats to brag about.

"We really didn't know what was going to happen this year," Smith said. "Cincinnati had questions, Rutgers had some questions, and with us there were some questions of youth. But to have three undefeated teams, it's good to see that competitiveness.

"And I like it."

Aresco does, too.

___

AP Sports Writers Gary Graves in Louisville, Ky., and Hank Kurz in Richmond, Va. contributed to this report.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit 3 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago WSox 6
Chicago Cubs 5 Bottom 5th Inning
St. Louis 1
Cincinnati - A. Simon 3:05 PM
Pittsburgh - V. Worley
Minnesota - K. Gibson 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Philadelphia - J. Williams 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
Miami - J. Cosart 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Boston - A. Webster 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cleveland - T. Bauer 6:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Detroit - K. Ryan 6:10 PM
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt
Texas - R. Ross Jr. 6:10 PM
Houston - S. Feldman
Colorado - T. Matzek 7:10 PM
Arizona - V. Nuno
Chicago Cubs - T. Wada 7:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Gonzales
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 7:40 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Milwaukee - M. Fiers 8:05 PM
San Francisco - J. Peavy
Oakland - J. Samardzija 8:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Washington - S. Strasburg 8:10 PM
Seattle - R. Elias
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 3 2nd Qtr 10:05
Massachusetts 0
West Virginia 3 1st Qtr 8:18
(2) Alabama 3
Rice 0 1st Qtr 10:10
(17) Notre Dame 0
(10) South Dakota St 7 1st Qtr 7:55
(24) Missouri 7
Fla Atlantic 0 1st Qtr 9:19
(22) Nebraska 7
California 7 1st Qtr 8:42
Northwestern 0
Marshall 0 1st Qtr 12:27
Miami-Ohio 0
UC Davis 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 3:00 PM
Seattle
New England 4:00 PM
Toronto FC
Columbus 6:30 PM
Montreal
FC Dallas 7:30 PM
Chicago
Real Salt Lake 9:30 PM
San Jose
Portland 9:30 PM
Vancouver FC
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Chicago 6:00 PM
Indiana
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which upcoming event are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close