Cumberland Times-News

Football

September 3, 2009

Hot Couch Report: Breaking down the Big East

All summer, Big East football has confounded local, regional and national prognosticators. No one can say with certain who might win the league. In addition, the two major preseason polls, AP and USA Today/Coaches, do not contain a Big East team. Other polls included WVU, Pitt, Cincinnati, South Florida and Rutgers.

Those five have also been picked at least once to win the league. Most are predicting the conference’s weakest season since the 2004 transition year, after Virginia Tech and Miami bolted to the ACC, with Boston College to follow. Despite a four-way tie in ’04, Pitt won the BCS bid and was promptly blown out by Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. This year Utah and other Mountain West schools are calling for the Big East’s automatic BCS-bid’s head.

Luckily, the Big East has fared well in BCS games, going 3-1 since the complete exodus of teams to the ACC and the addition of Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. Cincy lost a very winnable Orange Bowl game to Virginia Tech last year. This year, though, a team that knows how to win BCS games will represent the conference once again.

1. West Virginia.

Yeah, yeah, Pat White is now a Miami Dolphin and will be missed. If he wasn’t the greatest player in WVU history, he’s in the top five. No need to rerun his stats and records here. They are well documented. Now, fifth-year senior Jarrett Brown takes over, having presided over two wins as a starter in his career, including a triple overtime win over the best Rutgers team ever in 2006. Offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen wants more balance this year, and this desire works in Brown’s favor, as he’s considered a more pure passer than White. The offense is well-stocked with four- and five-star recruits at the skill positions. A question mark? A talented but inexperienced line. Short yardage was a problem last year and improving it might be difficult with such a young line, at least early in the season.

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