The Big East's summer preview needs some work (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
With college football getting closer and closer to the first kickoff (just 81 days until Youngstown State), the Big East, fresh off yet another lawsuit, decided it was high-time to release their 2012 Summer preview. Along with announcing the date of the media days (July 30th and 31st), they have (predictably) tried to showcase the Big East is a top conference:
BIG EAST teams have gone 7-7 all-time in Bowl Championship Series games since the formation of the BCS in 1999. The BIG EAST is one of just five conferences (along with the Mountain West, SEC, WAC and Pac-12) with at least a .500 record in BCS games.
This is the big argument for Big East fans when comparing themselves to the ACC (a woeful 2-13 in BCS games). But removing all the members that have, or will soon be leaving, the remaining Big East teams are 1-3 (this doesn't include Boise State, whose BCS wins came pre-Big East). The sole win, Louisville beating Wake Forest in 2007, doesn't carry as much swagger as West Virginia's wins over big-time programs Georgia, Oklahoma, and Clemson.
Then there are the losses, which were bad. Real bad. Cincinnati barely showed up against Virginia Tech in 2008 and got curb stomped by Florida in 2009. And let's not forget UConn's performance (eerily reminiscent of Pitt's Sun Bowl offense) against Oklahoma in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, where the offense managed a whopping six points against the Sooners. What the Big East fails to mention is that these BCS games also happen to be the lowest rated BCS game each season, which matters to the people running the bowls.
Let's continue with the Big East's fact-finding mission:
In the BCS era, the BIG EAST has the best overall bowl record of any Bowl Subdivision conference. The BIG EAST is 43-27 (.614) in bowl games since the 1998-99 season.
Well, that certainly helps thanks to the conference's fairly weak bowl slate. Let's review the current Big East bowl lineup:
#2: Champs Sports vs. ACC (3rd pick)
#3: Belk Bowl vs. ACC (5th pick)
#4: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Big 12 (7th pick)
#5: BBVA Compass Bowl OR Liberty Bowl vs. SEC (8th/9th pick) or Conference USA (1st pick)
#6: Beef O'Brady's Bowl vs Conference USA
With that lineup, I would hope most major conferences would have a similar winning percentage. Two games against Conference USA and a game against a mediocre Big 12 team.
Then there's this:
Every BIG EAST team finished with at least five wins in 2011. The only other time that an existing Bowl Subdivision conference had each member finish with at least five wins was in 1904 and 1905, when the Big Nine (now the Big Ten) had all of its members with at least five victories.
Let's be real here: The Big East hasn't been very good since 2009 when Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati all ended the regular season ranked in the top 20 in the final BCS standings. In reality, there's not a whole lot that separates the top team from the bottom one. Case in point, Syracuse, who was by far the worst Big East team in 2011, absolutely demolished West Virginia, the BCS representative. And while some Big East teams played tough non-conference schedules (Pitt, West Virginia, Cincinnati), the two at the bottom (USF* and Syracuse) did not, which gave them a guaranteed winning record in non-conference play. Plus, Temple played in the MAC. No further explanation needed.
The point is that you can use facts to 'prove' the superiority of any conference. But when it comes right down to it, convincing fans that the Big East isn't at the bottom of AQ conferences is an uphill battle.
*I think we can all agree that Miami, despite the name, was pretty mediocre in 2011. Heck, they lost to Maryland and Boston College, two of the worst teams in the ACC.