Recruiting is the lifeblood of college sports, and right now, Big East football is hemorrhaging.
The Big East’s link to college football’s national championship through the Bowl Championship Series is unclear, and the once-powerful league is in danger of dropping to second-rate status.
Uncertainty in the Big East is a result of the conference losing its top two football programs when Miami and Virginia Tech bolted for the more lucrative ACC. Those schools officially join the ACC next season.
Pittsburgh, as an example, returned its football program to Top 25 status, but will it have a future in a viable conference? It is one of five Division I-A schools remaining in the Big East asking that question.
“This has made recruiting extra tough because everyone wants to know that they have a chance to play for a national championship,” Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said. “In my perception, we have gotten a tremendous amount of negative publicity and negative opinions about where the Big East is going.”
The first signs of cracking in the Big East won’t come on the football field or the financial front from shrinking television deals, merchandise sales or even at the turnstiles. The conference fracture will be felt on the road.
“I would like to go to a BCS conference,” said DeMatha High School wide receiver Derrick McPhearson, who has been offered scholarships to Maryland, Virginia Tech and Ohio State as well as Big East programs Pitt, Syracuse and Boston College. “As a person who likes competition, you want to go against the best.”
McPhearson, whose father, Gerrick, played defensive back for Boston College and in the NFL with New England, plans to research the academic sides of schools as well as football programs before making a decision. But if it is a close call, he said the conference could be the deciding factor.
The BCS guarantees champions of six leagues — Big East, ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 — berths in the top four and most lucrative bowls. The other two BCS bids go to at-large teams, but since the system began in 1998 all 10 of those selections have gone to BCS conferences teams.
The Big East could expand and perhaps retain its BCS status by adding programs like Cincinnati and Louisville. However, the conference still would be at the mercy of BCS organizers with big influences from television executives.
The BCS deal and consequent TV contract expire after the 2005 season. Without its two top draws, there are concerns the Big East may lose its automatic bid. Without BCS status, it could fall to the same level with Conference USA, the Mountain West, Western Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference and the Sun Belt.
The unsettled atmosphere in the Big East has made the recruiting trail steep.
“We will still recruit the same guy,” West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez. “Will more say no? Yes.”
Selling a program with an uncertain future is new to the five programs — Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers — and poses serious problems for Connecticut, which will join the Big East football conference next season.View Entire Story
'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
“Right Angles” explores serious subjects, such as the Islamization of the Middle East and delegitimization of Israel, with humor, candor and a twist.
News and reviews of notable museums, and exhibits, and art events.
When you need to know who is making business, and what business is being made, you need the Business Browser.
From raising children to identifying educational and service options for your children, Speaking of Family is where you can write...
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall