Hats off to the Big East. Last year the Big East only had one team finish in the top 25, and that was No. 21 Boston College. This year, two teams are in the top 15 and are bowl bound. The West Virginia Mountaineers finished at No. 11 and Louisville at No. 15.

The Big East has four football teams, including WVU and Louisville, clinching bowl games. The Mountaineers will represent the conference in the Bowl Championship Series. First-year Big East team Louisville finished 9-2 and second in the league. The Cardinals will do battle with No. 12 Virginia Tech in the Toyota Gator Bowl on Jan 2. Call me crazy and I probably am, but I’m cheering for the Cardinals.

Rutgers shared a second place finish with Louisville and will play in its first bowl game since 1978. The Scarlet Knights will challenge Arizona State in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 27. South Florida, in their first season as a Big East member, will play North Carolina State in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31.

Now that’s an accomplishment.

Even with two teams in the top 25 and four teams playing in bowl games, there are still conference critics who believe the Big East should no longer be considered a BCS conference and shouldn’t receive the automatic BCS tie-in. Get over it.

° ° °

For a team that was picked to finish anywhere between third and last in the Big East, the Mountaineers have had a remarkable season. The Eers’ defense, combined with true freshman Steve Slaton and redshirt freshman quarterback Pat White, were able to cap off a season ending six-game winning streak.

On Oct. 15, West Virginia pulled off a shocking comeback at Milan Puskar Stadium when they miraculously came back from a 24-7 deficit with about nine minutes remaining to stupefy Louisville 46-44 in triple overtime.

The Mountaineers (10-1) then won the Big East title, after sharing it for the past two years. Now they must face the SEC champion Georgia (9-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in Atlanta. Let’s Go Mountaineers!

You can bet that the Mountaineers situation isn’t going to change much next year either, West Virginia should be one of the Big East front-runners.

I’m still a little bothered by the All-Big East Football Honors. The Mountaineers clinch the Big East and Louisville’s quarterback Brian Brohm receives offensive player of the year? Elvis Dumervil earned defensive player of the year? Hmmmm.... (scratching head) Whatever.

Not to take anything away from these guys, both are remarkable players, but a little reminder, Slaton and White. The duo were not even starters at the beginning of the season. Slaton finished third in the conference in rushing and scored 16 touchdowns, and he also set a school record, scoring six touchdowns against Louisville.

White was handed the starting position in the fourth quarter of the Louisville game and led the Eers’ comeback, and he now has 875 yards rushing, placing him sixth in the conference. He also rushed for the second most yards as a quarterback in Big East history.

Slaton earned Big East Rookie of the Year, but White was not even selected second team. I agree with ESPN, who picked White and Slaton to win the Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year award.

Congratulations are in order. West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez was named Big East coach of the year. Coach Rod lost 10 All-Big East selections from last year including — Adam “Pacman” Jones, Chris Henry, Kay-Jay Harris and quarterback Rasheed Marshall — and was still able to clinch the Big East title.



Jessica Davis is a Daily Telegraph sports writer.

Recommended for you