- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Doug Marrone, Charlie Strong, Skip Holtz, Butch Jones, Greg Schiano, Dana Holgorsen, Paul Pasqualoni and Todd Graham have something in common, and it’s music to the ears of Big East commissioner John Marinatto as he tries to chart the best future path for the much-maligned conference.

All eight Big East football coaches have their teams at 1-0 after a week that saw the conference outscore its opponents, 304-100. Since it was formed in 1991, the Big East never before had a week when it started a season 8-0.

The Big Least?

Try the Beast. Well, for one week, at least.

“That’s right. That’s the first time,” said Marinatto, who remains confident his league will survive amid all the talk about its eventual demise. “It’s a 12-week-long season and there’s certainly a lot of football to be played. But it’s obviously nice to be off to such a positive start.

“I’m excited.”

Not one Big East team finished 2010 ranked in the Top 25. Not a good thing for a conference that’s forever fighting for national respect.

And it’s all about perception in college football, right?

“Last year, we were second (to the SEC) among all conferences in nonconference winning percentage,” Marinatto said. “Five of our schools have won at least a share of the title in the last five years. All eight of our teams have played in at least one bowl game over the last two years, and all eight have won a bowl game in the last four years. That’s something no other conference has accomplished.

“We’ve always felt good. It’s just that sometimes, I guess, it’s our society that likes to view things from a negative perspective.”

Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe isn’t one of them.

“Anytime you’re a BCS conference, you’ve got good football. You’re getting some of the better players in the country,” said Grobe, whose Demon Deacons lost their season-opener in overtime at Syracuse. “If you go to any of the BCS conferences, you’re not going to find a bad football team; you’re going to find good talent that’s well-coached and all those things. The Big East is a good conference.”

One week certainly doesn’t make a season. And wins such as Rutgers’ 48-0 shellacking of North Carolina Central of the FCS, Connecticut’s 35-3 rout of FCS foe Fordham, Louisville’s 21-9 win over FCS stalwart Murray State, or Cincinnati’s 72-10 victory over Austin Peay, another FCS team, aren’t exactly grounds to begin thinking about postseason glory.

Nonetheless, 8-0 is 8-0, and two Big East teams are in the Top 25.

“I’m happy for the conference,” said Schiano, in his 11th year at Rutgers. “It’s great for the league to start out that way. But in sports, we always draw conclusions and judgments way too soon. I think we’ll be judged, as a conference, on our body of work at the end of the season, as everyone will.”

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