The 2004 Big East football conference has undergone a hefty makeover, the 2005 season shaping up quite differently. Administration, coaches, players, and media representatives met to discuss the new conference on Tuesday July 19th. Buzzing with excitement, the Newport, RI Marriot Hotel's conference room staged the highly anticipated event.
Along with each team's head coach and a handful of
players, over 100 television, radio, and print media reporters attended, eager
to find out what changes the addition and loss of three teams would induce in
With the adding of the Louisville,
Cincinnati, and the
University of South
Florida, the Big East should prove far more
"Every team has an opportunity in this league,"
said Connecticut head coach, Randy
Edsall. "It's very balanced. I think
Louisville, with the number of
people returning, should be picked first in the league, but I also think that if
people don't play on top of their games each and every week they could come away
with a loss. Just look at the statistics. Last year if we had this conference
the Big East had a better winning percentage than any conference in the
country," he pointed out. "There's energy and excitement throughout the
The conference suffered losses of Virginia Tech,
University, but regardless, the
league is excited about the new changes.
"This (Big East media day) is probably the most exciting day in the
history of our twenty-six years," said commissioner Michael Tranghese. "We're
bringing in three schools who are excited to be here and who we are excited to
Tranghese is not alone in his enthusiasm for the changes. Every coach,
whether his program is new to the consortium or is a seasoned Big East veteran,
is anxiously awaiting the new, rivaling nature of the
The inclusion of new teams and deletion of old teams aren't the only
changes within the Big East, though. A substantial variation on the game comes
to this conference by way of Instant Replay.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the demonstration (of instant replay),"
said Syracuse coach Greg Robinson.
"I think it could be very useful. I was not a big advocate of instant replay in
the NFL. I thought it really broke up the game, but the (new) system, the way it
is set up; quite frankly I think it's a better deal. It's a better
As mentioned by West
Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, television time-outs
break up and add length to the game as it is. Though the replay addition is met
with mixed reviews it will, regardless, be a part of the 2005
Louisville joins the Big East
with a number one pre-season ranking within the conference.
USF, and Cincinnati all fall into
the rankings respectively.
received 23 of a possible 24 first-place votes, having come off an 11-1 season
including a 44-40 victory over Boise
State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
The Cardinals will be working under head coach Bobby Petrino and will return
fourteen starters for 2005.
Wannstedt's Pittsburgh Panthers snagged the one remaining first place vote and
are projected for second place. The Panthers were part of the Big East's
four-way tie for first place in 2004, sharing the Big East champion title with
Pittsburgh, though, was the league's
BCS representative. The Panthers return sixteen starters.
Having earned a share of the Big East title two
years running, West Virginia is
ranked third for the upcoming season. The Mountaineers finished 8-4 overall and
4-2 in the Big East last season. They have appeared in eight bowl games
throughout the past eleven seasons.
Orange fill the number five slot in
the pre-season rankings. Head Coach Greg Robinson is new to both the
Orange and to the Big East
Conference. Syracuse upset
College in 2004 to earn a spot in the
Champs Sports Bowl, where they lost to Georgia Tech (51-14). The team returns
The UConn Huskies, under Randy Edsall, joined the
Big East last season and put up an 8-4 record. Edsall took the fifth-ranked team
to its first bowl appearance in school history, the Motor City Bowl, where the
Huskies triumphed over Toledo
(39-10.) UConn suffers the loss of quarterback Dan Orlovsky for 2005. This
season will be Connecticut's third
as a Division I team.
Greg Schiano heads into his fifth year as
Rutgers' head coach, his team ranking sixth. The Scarlet
Knights led the Big East in sacks last season. RU also returns offensive threats
in quarterback Ryan Hart, running back, Brian Leonard, wideout Tres Moses, and
tight end Clark Harris.
University of South
Florida, new to the conference, is ranked seventh.
Directed by Jim Leavitt, the Bulls return eight of eleven defensive starters.
Running back Andre Hall will be the offense's cornerstone, having rushed for
1,357 yards and eleven touchdowns last season. USF finished with a 4-7 overall
record in 2004.
Also new to the conference,
Cincinnati finished their 2004
season 7-5, a PlainsCapital Fort Worthy Bowl victory under their belt. Mark
Dantonio returns to coach the Bearcats, who are ranked eighth in the pre-season
polls. Tight end Brent Celek will lead the Bearcat offense.
Change has hit the Big East conference hard this
year. New, competitive, and eagerly awaited by fans, the league should prove to
be a far more resilient conference in 2005, held in higher regards than ever
"I see the Big East as having a group of teams
that will be very representative of college football," Robinson