It’s the start of Big East Media Days today. Next week, Pitt starts fall practices. That means camp updates, obsessing over the smallest things. Blowing things out of proportion when it suits our notions (Sunseri had a bad day! Voytik and a good day! ZOMG! Chryst is totally going to start Voytik over Sunseri! That is unless the Sunseri family doesn’t use their booster connections to force Chryst to play Sunseri!).
The Big East gets to put on its happy face with two lameduck teams, a team they had to bring back after kicking them out nearly a decade ago. And all of their myriad of problems.
That’s because Big East football will have teams in four time zones, will have three members who are football-members only (Navy, Boise State and San Diego State) and 10 schools which are full members (Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Rutgers, Connecticut, Temple — the Owls will be a football member this year and a full member next year — Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville).
And the conference also has to appease Notre Dame — for the time being at least — which plays everything but football in the conference as well as seven other schools (Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul and Marquette) whose primary revenue sport is men’s basketball because they don’t field Division I-A football teams.
The Big East will be a 21-team league, starting in 2015, yet Bailey has told anyone who will listen that the league can survive in this fashion and said that the league’s strength is in its diversity.
Beyond that, the two biggest challenges facing the new commissioner will be negotiating a new and lucrative television package as well as finding a way to remain relevant in the national championship discussion and major bowls.
That is when they can find a commissioner that fits what they want.
In 1991, Big East football consisted of Pitt, Syracuse, Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Temple and Rutgers. Next year five of the original eight will be in the ACC. In other words, a good case could be made that next year’s ACC will be more Big East than the Big East has been in years.
The good news for Pitt going into the season. Coach Paul Chryst is saying the right things about the whole issue of yet another new system for the quarterback (and offense).
Chryst, however, spends no time thinking about the difficulty involved in change. Rather, he points out what can happen, careful not to promise that it will.
“Two years ago, we had a fifth-year quarterback at Wisconsin (where Chryst was offensive coordinator from 2005-11) who was running a lot of those plays for five years,” he said.
“(Last season), same system, but the quarterback was one year (in the program).”
Result: Wisconsin won 11 games both times, with veteran Scott Tolzien and transfer Russell Wilson.
“Coaches, maybe media, can make it more than it is,” Chryst said. “Certainly, (when) the system changes, you can say it applies to the quarterback as much as anyone, but no one is interested in that being an excuse.”
After 23 seasons as an assistant on nine teams, Chryst is a head coach for the first time, dealing with the transition by preparing for it, rather than making it an issue.
Not a resigned, passive, “it is what it is,” but “this is what there is, let’s deal with it.”