Now that Big East media day is in the books, let's take a look at what we learned, and what questions still remain.
What we learned
1. West Virginia has everyone's attention. Plenty of turmoil surrounded the Mountaineers this summer, but that did not stop the media from picking them to finish first in the league. New coach Dana Holgorsen, promoted from coach-in-waiting a year ahead of schedule, has got people excited about the brand of offense he is bringing back to Morgantown. The same goes for quarterback Geno Smith, who is poised to have a breakout season the way Brandon Weeden did last season for Oklahoma State. Holgorsen has never been a head coach before, and the defense loses seven starters. But the potential on offense seems to outweigh those concerns.
2. Future schedules with TCU. The league took the easiest approach when deciding how to schedule TCU into league play for 2012. Given the unbalanced conference schedule with eight league teams, the teams that play three conference home games this season get four next season. That means USF, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville will go to Fort Worth; while Pitt, UConn, Rutgers and Syracuse will get TCU at home. Can't argue with that logic.
3. What to do for national respect. Each coach talked about the competitiveness in the league when they took their turn at the podium on Tuesday. But when asked more specifically what the league has to do to get more national respect, nearly all said they had to have consistent teams year in and year out, and even a few that separate themselves from the pack to become perennial Top 25 teams. So competitiveness is good when it comes to having a chance to compete for a Big East title; but not when it comes to grabbing more national headlines. I will have more on this in a future blog post.
What questions remain
1. Where exactly is the Big East headed when it comes to expansion? There were headlines off media day about the upcoming TV media rights deal up for negotiation, but commissioner John Marinatto essentially reiterated what he said during the spring meetings in May. It's great to go last when it comes to negotiations; the Pac-12 deal reset the marketplace; and if the league does expand, it needs to find the right fit. We already knew all that information. Marinatto did confirm the league was close to a new deal with ESPN but wants to explore all its options. Representatives from Fox and NBC were in Newport, so the Big East is smart to bide its time -- especially with what seems to be uncertainty in the Big 12. But eventually, it is going to have to make a decision on expansion, which directly impacts a new media rights deal.
2. UConn undecided at quarterback. Coach Paul Pasqualoni reiterated once again that he is going to take his time when deciding on who would be his starting quarterback this season. The Huskies have a four-man race going between Michael Box, Johnny McEntee, Scott McCummings and Michael Nebrich. “I’d like to make a decision as soon as I can, but I really don’t know how long it will take,” Pasqualoni said. “We’re prepared to go the distance because we want to get it right.”
3. Can the league get national respect? This goes hand in hand with No. 3 from the "what we learned section." Clearly the Big East needs a team to step up and make a run. West Virginia is poised to do that if it lives up to all the preseason hype. There are big opportunities, and there is no question Mountaineer players are fired up for the game against LSU. But will it happen? Each team has question marks, and the league is as wide open as ever. Having some good, young coaching personalities and some good offenses should help. But nobody is going to be talking about the Big East if everybody has a loss or two come October.