As we continue our best-of-decade lists, it's time to rank the top Big East programs of the aughts.
Twelve schools competed in the Big East between 2000 and 2009. I think we can all agree that Temple, which won six Big East games in five years before getting the boot, ranks last.
The others are harder to order, because you have some programs like West Virginia that were around all 10 years and others like Miami and Virginia Tech which only spent four years in the league. I'm basing these on greatest impact, not necessarily longevity. Here, then, are the rankings:
1. Miami: Sure, the Hurricanes bolted after the 2003 season. But while they were in the Big East, they dominated in a way no program has since. Miami went 46-4 overall and 27-1 in league play during those four years, winning a national title, two BCS games and losing in double overtime of another national title game.
2. West Virginia: The Mountaineers were the biggest beneficiary of Miami's exit as they became the league's big dog between 2005 and 2007, winning 33 games in that span. Overall, West Virginia won two Big East titles and two BCS games while claiming 86 victories and finishing 24 games above .500 in league play.
3. Virginia Tech: Like the Hurricanes, the Hokies' time in the Big East this decade was brief. But during those four years, Virginia Tech went 19-9 in league play and won at least eight games every year.
4. Pittsburgh: The Panthers won the Big East in 2004, but it was the weakest and most watered-down year in league history. They also suffered through some lean times early in the Dave Wannstedt era. But Pitt climbed back to the top at the end of the decade, winning 19 games in 2008 and 2009 combined, and they finished the 10-year period with 74 victories.
5. Cincinnati: The Bearcats joined West Virginia and Miami as the only school to win multiple Big East titles in the decade when they claimed the crown in '08 and '09. After a humbling 4-7 first year in the league, Cincinnati compiled 41 wins in the final four seasons of the aughts.
6. Louisville: The Cardinals are a difficult team to place. They were as good as anybody their first two years in the league, finishing second in 2005 and winning the title in 2006 with a 12-1 Orange Bowl team. In the last three years, though, they failed to even make a bowl.
7. Boston College: BC spent the first half-decade in the Big East, where it averaged eight wins per season and recorded five bowl wins. But it was the definition of average, going 17-17 in conference play.
8. Connecticut: The Huskies have had winning records in four of their six years in the Big East and have gone to three straight bowl games. They get the slight nod over the next two programs on this list because they're the only ones left with a Big East title in the aughts, albeit a co-championship in 2007.
9. Rutgers: If we were merely considering the last five years, the Scarlet Knights would rate higher on this list. They averaged better than eight wins a season from 2005 on and have gone to five straight bowls. However, many of those victories were earned against soft nonconference schedules, and it's impossible to ignore how bad the program was during the first half of the decade.
10. South Florida: The Bulls have made big splashes at times, climbing into the top 10 in both 2007 and 2008, peaking at No. 2 in '07. Yet they've only gone 17-18 all-time in Big East play and have never finished higher than third in the conference standings.
11. Syracuse: The Orange were a Big East power in the '90s and won 10 games in 2001. But thanks to some bad coaching decisions, they were almost a complete non-factor for most of the aughts.
12. Temple: So bad the Big East couldn't take the Owls' losing any more.