Coaching Changes And Conference Realignment: The Future Of The Big East

Stiles is a regular contributor to the site.  This is one of those contributions.

One of the points that jumped out to me from Oliver Luck’s press conference was his mentioning that the Big East will be tougher in the future with the addition of TCU. He talked about how hiring Holgorsen will better position West Virginia going forward. I don’t disagree with that one bit. However, I feel like he didn’t go far enough. I believe, when you also factor in the recent coaching changes, the Big East will be even that much stronger in two years, especially compared to what it was from 2008-2010.

Here is a list of the changes with my analysis of the situation:

Syracuse: Doug Marrone for Greg Robinson. Definite upgrade. Already Marrone has quickly put Syracuse in the right direction and there is little reason to believe that this is the ceiling. I, for one, would love to have Syracuse back to being good. It’s a more fun conference when that happens.

Cincinnati: Butch Jones for Brian Kelly. Downgrade. The first year didn’t go so well for Jones. But, I’m not ready to write him off just yet. The Bearcats lost a lot of talent from their 2009 team and I look for the Bearcats to bounce back next year. That said, I don’t think Jones will lead them to the heights that Kelly did. Going forward, however, they will be a solid team, especially if Jones can recruit Ohio.

South Florida: Skip Holtz for Jim Leavitt. Big upgrade. Yeah, Leavitt was successful, especially against WVU, but his teams were wildly inconsistent. This is something I think Holtz will fix. I liked Holtz enough that I would have been happy if he would have gotten the WVU job in 2008. I saw nothing this year that changed my opinion. 

Pitt: Mike Haywood for Dave Wannstedt. Probable even. I don’t know what to make of this, but at the least it would be wash to me. Wannstedt recruited a lot of talent, but couldn’t get the results, so, to me, there isn’t a lot of downside. I don't know, maybe Haywood will be terrible -- but a move had to be at Pitt.

Louisville: Charlie Strong for Steve Kragthrope. Big upgrade. The Cardinals put together a nice season this past year. And with a strong recruiting class shaping up, it looks like they will be making another leap in the near future. 

WVU: Dana Holgorsen for Bill Stewart. Probable upgrade. Everything I’ve read and seen over the past couple years leads me to believe this will be a big upgrade. I am sold that Holgorsen is the real deal. And with the conference shaping up to be much tougher, I think Holgorsen will have much more success than if Stewart were the coach from say 2012-2014. 

UCONN and Rutgers situation have remained the same, so they fall outside of this exercise in futility.

In short, I fully expect the conference to make a major leap forward over the five years and return to the days in the days of the late 90s where the league was filled with great games week in and weak out. It should be a lot of fun. And, hopefully, leads to a lot more big games at Mountaineer Field.

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But, if I were the Big East, I would go further. Since they already have an invitation out to Villanova, I would add Central Florida and Houston to the conference to make it 12 teams. Not only would this allow for a championship game, but it would strengthen recruiting ties in two of the best spots in the country. Also, with 12 teams, each school would have a true rival where the games could be played over the final two weeks of the season: WVU-Pitt, Houston-TCU, UCF-USF, Louisville-Cincinnati, Rutgers-Villanova and Syracuse-UCONN.

I would split the 12 teams into two conferences (Mason and Dixon).

Mason: WVU, Pitt, UCONN, Syracuse, Villanova, Rutgers
Dixon: Louisville, Cincinnati, TCU, Houston, UCF and USF.

Championship Game: New Meadowlands Stadium.

This is just one man’s idea. Of course, I’m not getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars like Paul Tagliabue to be an outside consultant. And that’s just another mistake the Big East has made.
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