During the long Big East expansion process, many ardent supporters came to the defense of the league, saying the new membership was vastly better than the old.
Let us take a look at the win-loss records of the newly configured Big East over the course of the past four seasons, compared to departing members Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia.
Boise State: 50-3
West Virginia: 37-15
San Diego State: 23-27
Now, let us all remember every incoming school played in a non-automatic qualifying conference, with weaker conference strength of schedules than the Big East. You decide whether Houston's 36 wins were as strong as West Virginia's 37. But the records are instructive in a variety of ways.
There was never really a question about the value Boise State brings to the conference. The Broncos have been a top-10 team the last several years and bring many more eyes and much more attention to the Big East. Of the 13 teams the Big East plans to have into the future, Boise State is the only one without a losing season the last four years.
But the contention that Pitt has done little of note lately is without merit. Pitt has been one of the better teams in the Big East the last four years. Only two incoming schools have better records. Syracuse has been in the doldrums -- nobody is denying that. But Syracuse and Louisville are the only two Big East schools to post losing records over the last four seasons. Three incoming schools have done the same.
So taking a look at these records essentially shows a majority of schools that have recent marks that fit right in with the remaining schools in the Big East. Don't believe me? Let's average the win-loss record for teams in the "old Big East" using their four-year marks listed above. Let's do the same for the "new Big East." Ready?
Old Big East: 30-21
New Big East: 29-22
Do a little more math, and you are left with schools that averaged 8-5 seasons in the old Big East; 7-6 seasons in the new Big East.
Also remember, for all the strides that Temple, SMU and San Diego State have made to become winning programs, they really have only taken baby steps. Going back to 2008, Temple was 5-7; San Diego State was 2-10; SMU was 1-11. These programs are all in their infancy when it comes to having recent success on the football field.
That impacts how a program is viewed and goes back to what I have been saying for quite some time -- perception matters in college football. And it takes a while for outsiders to change their impressions. Pitt and Syracuse have not gone to BCS games lately, but they are national names. Cincinnati has won at least a share of three of the last four Big East titles, but the Bearcats rarely get national respect. I firmly believe it is because they are a young AQ program.
For those wondering, I went back four years because the most recent BCS cycle for gaining AQ status ran from 2008-11. No, the Big East is not in any danger of losing its AQ status for the final two years of the current cycle, which runs through the 2013 season. But looking at the last four years is a good window into a program. I am not sure results from 10 years ago have much bearing on where teams stand today.