Sitting squarely in the nexus of the latest round of realignment is the Big East. It's both the object of desire for conference raiders from the Big 12 and ACC, as well as an apparent raider in its own right of mid-major leagues.
We tapped Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias, the blogging bible of all things Big East, to answer "Five Burning Questions" on the future make-up of the conference. We squeezed in some talk about what's actually going down on the field, too.
1. Have these schools trying to get into the Big 12 been asleep for the last two years?
Boy, does this whole soap opera illustrate the power of perspective or what? Big XII fans look at their league and say its a drama-filled mess, why would anyone want to be a part of it? Big East fans look at their own league and think it's about to be filled with teams from Conference USA and the automatic qualifying status will dry up after 2013. So the teams that have any kind of opportunity want out, even if it means latching on to the Big XII and it's six-year armistice.
If you think about it, if you're Louisville or West Virginia and you get six years out of the Big XII before, say, four teams bolt for the Pac-16, what have you lost?
2. In your mind, will the schools that leave the Big East ultimately regret it?
I think Pittsburgh and Syracuse will regret it, no doubt. Those two have played basketball in the Big East since 1979. Syracuse has tremendous, storied rivalries with a number of Big East teams that it simply won't be able to accommodate in the ACC. Not to mention it's basketball rivalry with Georgetown. Think about it, Syracuse fans were livid when the Big East only scheduled Georgetown one time. Its move to the ACC now guarantees it will only happen once a year.
When it comes to football, I think Pittsburgh has a chance to be competitive in the ACC, depending on how the divisions are setup.
3. Speaking of regrets, who will be representing the Big East in the BCS this January?
Put a gun to my head and I'd say West Virginia. I know that Syracuse stuck it to them last Friday night, but I still think that offense will regroup and beat Cincinnati in two weeks. In fact, that Cincinnati-West Virginia game is at Paul Brown Stadium, and I'd be willing to bet the crowd is a 50-50 split between Mountaineers and Bearcats fans.
Cincinnati is in the driver's seat and I've really been impressed with them and the way they've bounced back this year. At times they're throwing the ball around, other times grinding it out with Isaiah Pead, and then other times winning with defense and turnovers. Butch Jones didn't forget how to coach last year, and he's shown it this year.
4. Hypothetically speaking, if Boise State joined the Big East next season, would the broncos dominate the league for the foreseeable future?
I think they would if Kellen Moore was still going to be around. But that offense is going to change when he's gone, and no one really knows how it will go.
I can confidently say, however, that Boise State would've won the Big East without much of a problem in any of the three previous years. That defensive line would be a nightmare in this conference. Going forward, I don't know.
5. Holgo or no go?
I think Holgorsen is learning some lessons the hard way, but over all I'm a believer.
He ripped the fans for the poor showing a few weeks back, and that can be a two-edged sword. Either the fans can take it and respond, or they turn on you and feel attacked. I can say that Charlie Strong griped at Louisville fans not being in their seats at kickoff, and it worked for about three weeks, and things returned to normal. So, we'll see if he has more success.
Lately it's been interesting to hear some defensive players comment that practices aren't quite as hard as they were used to and that they felt it was affecting their play. That seems like a practice model from Leach, who never killed his guys during the season. He might have to turn the heat up a little bit. Still, overall, if he hangs around, he'll be very good for West Virginia in the long run.