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Big East Football: To Defend Or Not To Defend

I saw someone write earlier this week on Twitter that statistically, this season is an anomaly for the Big East. That, historically, the Big East fares much better against BCS opponents and has ranked teams much more often.

That's fair, and true. But nobody cares.

I'll say it again until someone starts listening...perception is reality. The perception is that the Big East is awful and this season confirms it.

Syracuse's predicament is perfect microcosm of the conference at large. The Orange are 3-1 but no other Big East team takes them seriously. They say SU has fatten up on lesser opponents while getting drilled by the only legit team they face. And maybe they're right. But until the Orange do something to change the perception (like beat USF this weekend), it will remain.

Just like how until the Big East starts winning games against BCS teams and putting squads in the rankings, they will be seen as less-than. And even then, it's going to take a couple Earth-shattering wins over top tier SEC and Big Ten programs to start shedding the label.

This weekend wasn't supposed to do that but if it had a name, it would have been called Big East "Doing The Things We're Supposed To" Weekend, Sponsored by Bank of America (I assume they'd be involved). There were no marquee games. Only one of them involved another team from a BCS Conference and it was one of the worst (Vanderbilt). By all accounts, the five Big East teams in action should have gone 5-0.

They didn't. They went 4-1. That doesn't sound horrible, but when you're the Big East and you lose a game you have no business losing, that's the only thing anyone notices.

USF took care of business against the Guardians Owls. Pitt handled themselves well against FIU. Louisville even surprised themselves and beat Arkansas State. UConn beat the aforementioned Commodores like they were supposed to. That just leaves Rutgers, who was hosting 1-2 Tulane.

Tulane 17, Rutgers 14.

I thought that last year's defeat to a vastly inferior Syracuse team would stand for a while as the worst post-rebuilding loss of Greg Schiano's tenure at Rutgers. Yesterday's defeat shattered that assumption, and stands alone as a crushing reality check that there is something uniquely and inherently wrong and flawed about this year's Scarlet Knight team. That is the inescapable conclusion when you lose at home to an opponent who has looked rather bad up to this point, and did nothing yesterday to indicate otherwise.

I actually don't mean to single-out Rutgers, it just so happens that their game is the only one everything is discussing today. The rest don't seem to exist since they went according to plan. And right now, the best the Big East can hope for is a weekend when no one is discussing them. Out of sight, out of mind. This year's a write-off for the entire conference and the less anyone notices, the better.

Dave Rahme tries his best to defend the conference, stating that the conference is 16-6 in bowl games the last five years. That's an impressive stat, until you remember most of those games are played against teams from the MAC or Sun Belt as well as 6-6 BCS teams. It's not really a good indicator of the conference's abilities.

My favorite quote from the article sums up everything about the Big East this season as far as I'm concerned. Here's Skip Holtz talking about USF's blowout loss to Florida.

"I look at our game with Florida (a 38-14 loss) and I thought it was a heck of a football game. If we don’t turn the ball over five times, that’s a classic college football game that goes right down to the wire."

Five turnovers away from amazing football. That's the Big East.