Big East's awful day mars its bowl season

Cincinnati interim coach Jeff Quinn's loss to Florida dealt the Big East its biggest bowl defeat. Nelson Chenault/US Presswire


That's the sound of the Big East in bowl season. Sure, the league is 2-2 right now, but its New Year's Day performance is what people will remember.

Cincinnati came up small on the biggest stage, getting absolutely steamrolled by Florida in a 51-24 Allstate Sugar Bowl loss that wasn't even that close. The Big East needs all the high-profile wins it can get on the BCS stage and against the elite in the sport; the Bearcats' performance, coming in as a 12-0 back-to-back league champ, did great damage to the league's credibility.

West Virginia's performance was almost as bad. Yes, the Mountaineers were playing in a no-win situation in Bobby Bowden's last game, and quarterback Jarrett Brown didn't play the second half after hurting his ankle. The bottom line is still that the Big East's No. 2 team -- West Virginia finished 5-2 in the league and beat Pitt -- lost to a 6-6 team by two scores.

At least Pitt won a virtual road game against North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, and a UConn win Saturday over South Carolina would give the league an SEC scalp. But both those opponents are mediocre, middle-of-the pack teams. And South Florida's game against Northern Illinois won't matter to anybody unless the Bulls manage to lose.

The sky is not falling. Cincinnati will finish in the Top 10 and Pitt probably ends in the Top 15. West Virginia and Rutgers won nine games.

But you make your rep in the highest-profile games. And at the very top, the Big East bottomed out.