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Was the Big East Really Underrated?

January 15, 2011
By DOUG HUFF

SOME THOUGHTS while turning up the thermostat:

(1) I'm glad the bowl selection committees didn't place too much credence in the media labels of ''weak'' football conference (Big East) and ''power'' leagues (Big Ten and Big 12). When the postseason smoke cleared, the Big East won more bowls than the overrated Big Ten or Big 12. The Big East was 4-2 in bowl games while the Big Ten and the Big 12 both went 3-5.

(2) The perception that the Big East was ''weak'' this season probably is based on the fact the league had no dominant, or super, teams but a bunch of good, competitive squads. The top two ranked Big East teams, West Virginia and Connecticut, were the only entries to lose bowl games.

(3) West Virginia may have dropped its bowl contest to North Carolina State, but four of its defeated regular-season opponents captured bowl victories - Maryland, Louisville, South Florida and Pittsburgh.

(4) Ohio State's regular-season schedule took a major hit in the bowls. Only two of the Buckeyes' regular-season victims won bowl games - Iowa and Illinois. And the Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers, and only team to defeat the Buckeyes, lost in the Rose Bowl. Future Big East member TCU capped an unbeaten season, and final No. 2 national ranking, with a 21-19 victory against Wisconsin.

(5) If any state was embarrassed in the bowl season, it had to be Michigan. On New Year's Day, the Big Ten went 0-5 in bowls including beatdowns to Michigan and Michigan State, the only team to beat Big Ten champion Wisconsin in the regular season. Michigan State was hammered by Alabama, 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl, and Michigan sent coach RICH RODRIGUEZ packing after suffering the school's worst bowl loss, 52-14 to Mississippi State.

(6) In case this escaped you, the national champion Auburn team split two games in 2008 and 2009 against BILL STEWART-coached West Virginia. The Mountaineers won, at home, by 34-17 and bowed, on the road, by 41-30. Of course, this was pre-CAM NEWTON era. Isn't it strange that GENE CHIZIK was a losing record coach at Iowa State before taking over a team led by Newton? Players win games which makes recruiting so vital in team success.

(7) In men's college basketball, Ohio State is poised to take over the No. 1 national ranking spot early next week. The Buckeyes are one of only four unbeaten Division-I teams in the land and were ranked No. 2 in the last polls before top-rated Duke was upended by Florida State earlier this week.

(8) West Virginia will be showcased Sunday afternoon in the national-televised game against once-beaten and No. 8-ranked Purdue in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are riding some momentum after two Big East losses to Marquette and St. John's. They won, on the road, against No. 13-ranked Georgetown and hammered Providence by 30 points on Thursday night.

(9) How about the West Liberty men's basketball team? The nation's leading-scoring team is ranked No. 1 for the first time in school history with a top spot in NCAA Division II. Coach JIM CRUTCHFIELD and staff have done a remarkable job in building this fun-to-watch program. It's a must-see for any serious roundball fan in the area.

(10) Enjoy the wintry weekend.

 
 

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