West Virginia Mountaineers
Virginia Tech Hokies
Boston College Eagles
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Those were the football standings in the Big East at the end of the season back in 2002. Back then there were Hurricane warnings whenever the ‘Canes came to town and they challenged for the National Championship almost every year. The league held up Miami as the standard to reach for and it was also the last year for Temple as they were booted from the league for lack of commitment and competitiveness. Rutgers wasn’t much better as they had been mired in mediocrity for most of their existence. Paul Pasqualoni was still the head coach in this year, the teams’ worst record on his watch. This was the year after the team went 10-3 (6-1 BE) and won the Insight Bowl against none other than the Kansas State Wildcats, winning 26-3. I point out K-State only because Syracuse has played them three times in bowl games since 1997 going 2-1 against them; the loss being the ’97 Fiesta Bowl with Donovan McNabb at quarterback and again in 2010 winning the Pinstripe Bowl 36-34.
My how the league has changed since then with Syracuse, PITT, Miami, VTech, and BC all reuniting in the ACC along with more recent BE member Louisville and P/Ter Notre Dame in the same capacity. West Virginia is in the Big-12, Rutgers is Big-10 bound, and Temple returned this season.
The Big East looks suspiciously like a Conference USA-hybrid with little resemblance to what the Big East once stood for, eastern football. Now the league has lost just about every all-sports team that they originally had and more want out as the wheels continue to change tracks. Heck, TCU joined and left without ever playing a game in the league. Can you imagine the 2002 teams with a few of the more recent additions today? It took all of this to finally go get East Carolina?
The BE was never a glamour league in football and that is what may have caused the push to change it. This writer still puts the blame squarely on network television’s shoulders as they sought out sexier league make-ups as they dangled big money in front of everyone.
Stay tuned as this tempest continues to create chaos in leagues, alliances, and cares less about the death of tradition. Longtime rivals are gone for all of these teams and that is sad.