ESPN.com Big East blogger Brian Bennett has his early 2011 predictions out for the Big East. He puts the Panthers at third for now and has West Virginia as the odds on favorite to win the conference.
This might sound kind of wacky, but I still really like Pitt's chances. Regardless of system, new coach, personnel losses, etc., they're in a weak conference and have talented players. I'll take that combo anytime.
Still, I've got no issue putting the Mountaineers first, because it's a weak conference and they're always a pretty good team. But I will point out that, like Pitt, they lost quite a bit after last year. I've run down this list before, but here it is again: Robert Sands, Noel Devine, Jock Sanders, Brandon Hogan, J.T. Thomas, and Chris Nield are all gone from the previous season.
I also don't see a big issue putting South Florida in second since they've lost next to nothing this year. But the problem is that the Bulls have underperformed almost as much has Pitt has and whenever they're expected to do anything, generally fail to reach expectations. And while B.J. Daniels is an athletic freak, I'm still not sure how sold I am on him. Even though he completed a higher percentage of his passes last season, it's fair to say he regressed as he threw for fewer yards, less touchdowns, and more interceptions.