Creeping Up ...

Considering all the criticism that Big East Commish Michael Tranghese had to hear during the past couple of years, today, at the Big East Annual Media Day, had to be accompanied by quite a different feeling. Few dared to believe the Big East, now the nation's premiere basketball conference, could hang on to its dwindling status as even a mediocre football conference.

Fast forward to July 17th, 2006 ... funny how perception fuels reality, but even at its darkest point, reality - eventually - manages to catch up.

The reality was that the Big East would not die the often-predicted death, after being ravaged by its counterpart to the south.

"When I look at where we are today, I think it's a lot different than a year ago. Last year, we hadn't played a (Big East) game yet. I think what we saw after just one year of competition is the development of rivalries. The only way rivalries will be built is they have to play. Louisville and West Virginia: they played and had a memorable game last year. Now we have a rivalry. Louisville and USF played in another classic game. We look forward to the development of new rivalries as we play more games," stated Tranghese at the BE Annual Media day.

Indeed, Louisville was brought in and smoothly blended in with the rest of the conference. Thought to be the conference's top dogs from day one, the Cardinals managed to start what Tranghese hopes to be a budding rivalry between U of L and WVU, two of the nation's most exciting football programs - certainly, an epic and seemingly infinite-overtime game helped the cause. The spotlight is now squarely on the pair of programs - the Eers and the Cards, to continue to step forward and lead the Big East's march into respectability and beyond.

But it didn't stop there in '06. The progress came from many angles, some more expected than others.

"We saw USF go to its first bowl game ever, and Rutgers go to its first bowl since 1978," continued Tranghese.

For Rutgers, the much overused - over the years - reference of Sleeping Giant may finally be appropriate. The state of New Jersey, chock-full of High School football talent, but devoid of a university to call its own, a place to send their kids to, may finally have awoken. Rutgers, fresh off their first ever Bowl Game outside of the Garden State, has its fans rejuvenated like never before. Considering its ideal geographical placement, right smack in the middle of the Big Apple and Philadelphia, entrenched remarkably well under the brightest of bright lights, the resurgence of Rutgers (RU was once one of the more dominant programs some 30 years ago) may be quite the boon for Tranghese and the still youthful Big East. Especially when one considers the ever increasing importance of television exposure.

Indeed, the Big East continues its multi-year deal with ABC Sports and ESPN as broadcast television partners. Starting with a September 2nd telecast, when Rutgers travels to North Carolina, four games have been selected to air on ABC. Syracuse will host Iowa, of the Big 10, the following week, and the subsequent week will feature a pair of Big East games as part of ABC's Saturday afternoon regional coverage:

Miami (Fla.) at Louisville and Michigan State at Pittsburgh

In addition to the ABC coverage, 16 more games are currently scheduled to air on either ESPN and ESPN2.

For more on the Big East's Television schedule, please click here.

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