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The Big East's top 10 moments of the decade

1. The ACC raid: June 25, 2003

Nothing changed the face of the Big East more than the ACC's decision to expand in May of 2003. The original plan was to add Miami, Syracuse and Boston College. Thanks to pressure from Virginia, however, the ACC formally invited Miami and Virginia Tech on June 25. Both schools exited after the 2003 season. In October, Boston College accepted an invitation and left after the 2004 season. The Big East nearly collapsed as a result and would be irrevocably changed.

2. Fresh blood: Nov. 4, 2003

The Big East's response to the ACC's plundering was to bring in three new football-playing members: Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida. All three enthusiastically jumped at the chance to move up to the BCS level. Along with Marquette and DePaul in basketball, the Big East now had eight football members and 16 basketball schools in a unique format that somehow has worked for half a decade.

3. West Virginia to the rescue: Jan. 2, 2006

The Big East's altered state prompted the BCS to issue new guidelines for how leagues could keep their automatic bids, and many thought the Big East wouldn't be able to meet those standards. After a disastrous 2004 season ended in Pitt getting blown out by Utah in the Fiesta Bowl, West Virginia saved the league's reputation by racing out to a 28-0 lead over SEC champion Georgia and hanging on for a 38-35 Sugar Bowl win. Then-commissioner Mike Tranghese called it one of the happiest moments of his career.

4. Stunner in Morgantown: Dec. 1, 2007

West Virginia was on its way to the 2008 BCS title game; all it had to do was close out the season with a win over a 4-7 Pittsburgh team at home. Instead, the Panthers pulled off a shocking 13-9 upset that changed the fates of both programs. Rich Rodriguez would bolt for Michigan, while Dave Wannstedt got the signature win he needed to turn Pitt around and make it a league power once again.

5. Must-see Thursdays: Nov. 2 and Nov. 9, 2006

As the Big East was making its post-ACC comeback, there was no more exciting stretch than an eight-day extravaganza of undefeated showdowns in November 2006. First, burgeoning rivals Louisville and West Virginia played on Thursday night, with the fifth-ranked Cardinals knocking off the No. 3 Mountaineers 44-34. The following week, No. 15 Rutgers beat Louisville 28-25 on a late field goal. The games were among the highest-rated weeknight college football telecasts ever and ranked as the biggest nights in school history at both Louisville and Rutgers.

6. Repeat denied: Jan. 3, 2003

Miami was the dominant program of the early decade, and the Hurricanes very nearly won their second straight BCS title in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. But underdog Ohio State capped a comeback in the second overtime -- Miami fans still rue what they saw as a phantom pass interference call on a fourth-down Buckeyes play -- to snap the 'Canes 34-game winning streak. That would be the beginning of the end of the Miami dynasty.

7. Huskies debut: Sept. 17, 2004

Connecticut was originally supposed to join the Big East in 2005, but the ACC raid pushed that timetable up a year. The Huskies lost their first league game to Boston College, 27-7, but they ended up making and winning the Motor City Bowl, a remarkable accomplishment for a program still fresh to the FBS level. Randy Edsall has developed UConn into a perennial bowl team and legitimate league contender.

8. Kelly arrives: Dec. 4, 2006

Cincinnati's hiring of Brian Kelly from Central Michigan hardly made national or much regional news at the time. But it would shift the balance of power in the Big East. Kelly announced himself by immediately leading his new team to a bowl victory, and then he would keep on winning. His Bearcats won 33 games the next three years, including back-to-back Big East titles before Kelly left for Notre Dame in December.

9. Bye, bye Owls: 2004

Charter league football member Temple hardly ever won anything and drew big crowds even more infrequently. As a result, the sick man of Big East football was expelled out of the league following the 2004 season. Ironically, the Owls have rebounded of late and even made a bowl game this year. The Big East could use a ninth football-playing school.

10. Steel City thriller: Dec. 5, 2009

The last regular-season weekend of the decade was one for the ages. Never before had so much been on the line in a season finale, as undefeated Cincinnati and 9-2 Pittsburgh battled for the Big East's BCS bert at Heinz Field. It ended up as one of the best games of the decade as well, with the Bearcats roaring back from a 31-10 deficit to win 45-44 on a touchdown pass in the final minute. We can only hope for moments that exciting in the next decade.

Those are my top 10 moments. What are yours?