Had I been forced with a gun to my head to make any Big East Championship picks over the last four seasons, I would have chosen West Virginia each time. Finally last year, that default selection would have paid off with a winner as the ‘Neers won their first league title since 2007 en route to the Orange Bowl where they proceeded to drop 70 points on Clemson. Of course, West Virginia is no longer part of the Big East, having bolted for the richer Big 12 pastures. Without the ability to just fall back on the most talented team, whoever wants to bet on the winner coming out of this league had best do some homework. Its been a wide open chase for several years running. You have to think almost everyone has a chance. The more important question might be is the last stand for the Big East? They’re scrambling to stay relevant in a football driven world. Who knows if this league will even exist for pigskin purposes in a year or two. But, hey, league officials are in favor of on campus sites for a future conference championship game. That’s great. Now all you need is a bunch of new teams to make that game even happen in the first place. I searched all corners of the Internet, but I was unable to find any place that offered an Over/Under bet on the date in the future, when this becomes just a basketball league. Or any any props on whether or not Boise State will ever play a Big East football game. Maybe those lines will be released later this summer. We’ll see. As it stands now, here are the odds to secure the automatic BCS Bid from the Big East conference this season:
South Florida +350
South Florida +350
*** Is it a good thing when Louisville is chalk to win your league and we arent talking basketball? The Cards certainly are on the upswing, but they arent close to the talented UL outfits that competed for the league title in 2005 and 2006 and won the 2007 Orange Bowl. Of course, the Cards hadnt been back to the postseason since that berth until Charlie Strong took over in 2010. In two years, he’s led them to a pair of 7-win seasons and bowl games. Technically, they were co-champs a year ago with WVA and Cincy, but lost the BCS berth on a tiebreaker, so maybe them being chalk in the Mountaineers absence isnt so out of school. Everybody is excited about the Teddy Bridgewater Era taking the proverbial next step at the QB position. The earliest perseason magazines to hit stores have tabbed the Cards as the eventual Orange Bowl team from the league. Oddsmakers have also made the Cards early 10-point chalk against rival Kentucky in the opener.
**** It’s probably a worse sign for the league that the #2 favorite on the board had a losing record a year ago. But bettors, as they always are in the early going, are somewhat bullish on the USF Bulls. In the Bulls favor is the fact that they’re dominating preseason all conference honors. But nobody doubts the talent at USF. In fact, perhaps the Bulls should be the new default Big East pick on the most talented program standing theory. But they’ve always had trouble translating that and good starts to the season over the course of three months. If such props actually existed, I’d feel more comfortable taking them on the Over for first half of the season wins and doubling down on the Under for second half of the season wins, than I would outlaying any amount of cash on them to, you know, actually win the league. That said, I do like Skip Holtz. His teams at ECU were quality plays, especially when catching points. I was a little surprised at how his first season in Tampa went off the rails they way it did. We’ll see if Year 2 finally achieves the consistency thats always been lacking with the USF program.
*** I’m not buying Rutgers as a contender just yet. Greg Schiano’s program building made this program, and I am not sold that with a new leader that Rutgers will regain its consistent post season form, let alone finally break through a win a league title. But anything is possible in the current day Big East. Maybe i shouldnt bury the Knights just yet. I promise to look into them a bit more this summer. Maybe when summer insomnia hits.
*** I like Cincinnati at 4-1 odds. I really do. But I am not stoked to pull any trigger here until I do more research and assure myself that Munchie Legaux and George Winn can take over and keep the offense moving in the wake of Zach Collaros and Isiah Pead’s departure. Those two put a ton of production on the board over the years for the Bearcats. Hard to replace that and just keep moving along. They do have two of their top wideouts back and three returning starters on the offensive line to help the cause.
*** I dont know if I have any specific commentary on the next tier of teams, but seeing Pitt at +575 is disappointing. This program ought to be better. Hopefully they will have their game together when they join the 16-team Big 10 in 2016. Meanwhile, in two short years, UCONN has gone from conference champ to expected also ran with long 15/1 odds.
**** Temple returns to the league after several years toiling in the MAC. They just werent up for another round of #MACTION. At 18/1 to win the league, however, they arent quite the longshots they were the last time they were in the Big East. Of course, back then the league had Miami, Va Tech and BC as well as WVA.
**** The Owls share longshot odds at 18/1 with Syracuse. Wait a sec. I’m confused. What happened to the Orange Renaissance under Doug Marrone? A year ago at this time we were talking about a resurgent program. But now they’re the longshot in a ice watered down Big East? Something has gone astray. I still really like this coaching staff. It’ll be interesting to see if they can rebound and get this back in the direction they appeared headed in when 2010 closed.
Bottomline? I have no clue who wins this league. It might just come down to the Bucket Of Nails, or whatever its called, rivlary between Louisville and Cincy. That game will be played in Louisville on the final Friday night of October. Edge, Cardinals. This series used to have an underdog bias to it, but Cincy has actually gone 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS in the last four years in this head to head and they were chalk each time. Edge, Bearcats.
Double bottomline? I feel there will be better investments throughout the summer other than betting on a future Big East Champion. Wait for those odds to come out instead.