Big East Is Better

By Adam Caparell - October 10, 2006

There’s no argument that the Big East isn’t what it used to be without the likes of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College. But the conference is garnering some respect around the country with improved play and some non-conference wins, especially over the hated ACC.

“I think it’s been a very good start to the season, particularly non-conference wise,” West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. “It’s been a very productive year for us, proving ourselves as a league.”

Each of the top four teams in the Big East - WVU, Louisville, Rutgers and Pitt - has a win over an ACC opponent this year, with Louisville’s win over Miami the most notable.

Three Big East teams are currently ranked (No. 5 West Virginia, No. 7 Louisville and No. 24 Rutgers and Rodriguez thinks Pitt could easily be ranked as well) when only one team from the league was ranked at this time last year.

The ACC, on the other hand - with perennial powers Miami and Florida State trudging through mediocre seasons right now – has no teams ranked in the top 10 and just three teams in the AP Top 25 with No. 12 Clemson, No. 13 Georgia Tech and No. 22 Virginia Tech.

You can easily make an argument that the Big East is just as good as the ACC - as a whole - and certainly better up top.

But there are still plenty of naysayers out there. And while the Big East doesn’t have a big time, marquee program to hang its hat on, has a basement that features bad teams and is still fighting to earn credibility, Rodriguez believes those naysayers are dwindling.

“You have to see less of it now because of the way last year ended and particularly with the way this year has started,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is, of course, referring to his team’s win over Georgia in last year’s Sugar Bowl that gave the league a much needed shot in the arm heading into 2006.

“There’s still people out there who are going to be bashing it. But in reality, top to bottom, the Big East has more than held its own out there,” Rodriguez said.

Is the Big East the best conference in the country? Not by a long shot. And it’s still only the fourth or fifth best in the country, at best. But it’s making strides and making a run at the ACC this year.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:26 PM on October 10, 2006

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