Some of you might have heard of this young athletics conference called the Big East. But we have to ask ourselves a few questions as college sports fans — who are they and why should I be excited about this particular conference?
For our basketball nuts, you may know of the Big East; they have 11 National Championships, 50 Final Four appearances, and the Big East has one year where only Big East teams appeared in the Final Four (1985; Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, and Memphis). Some might say it is the strongest all-around basketball conference in history.
As for the football fans, contrary to the national media perception, their ball clubs aren't that shabby. According to Sports-Reference.com, the Big East football conference, with the 2015 realignment (which includes San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, Memphis, UCF, and Navy), will have a bowl record of 61-62-4 (48.03%). Their BCS Bowl record, according to BCSFootball.org: 3-3.
In other sports, according to the Big East’s official website, the conference can claim 31 national championships over many sports in its short, 33 year history. It has been a constant national contender in women’s basketball, lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, cross country, and track and field.
What do we know from this information? The Big East conference is an all-around contender in Division I athletics, and has the credentials to prove it. But many of us wonder the same thing: what makes this current configuration of schools in the Big East exciting at all? Mike Aresco, the Big East commissioner, when discussing the Cincinnati-Louisville rivalry, puts it this way:
“It’s been a very stable, solid rating. We always have an exciting game. Year after year, it’s competitive and the teams are always good. We’ve had [The Keg of Nails] for close to four decades now and we love that stability and that tradition.”
What makes this conference even more interesting; they span multiple major cities:
- San Diego, California
- Boise, Idaho
- Houston, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- Tampa, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Annapolis, Maryland
- New York City, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Hartford, Connecticut
Here are some story lines for potential rivalries developing in this new conference:
- Louisville and Cincinnati welcome back an old foe, Memphis, to reanimate some old hatred.
- UCF and USF, two cousin campuses who can’t seem to get along, duke it out in the ‘War on I-4′.
- Boise State and San Diego State represent the Big East on the West Coast.
- Houston and SMU attempt to revive their programs after the Southwest Conference fell apart.
- Temple, Connecticut, and Rutgers struggle to compete, throwing away the notion that they are basketball schools in football uniforms.
The question isn’t “Are they exciting?” It’s really this: will we allow them to be?