UCF Knights might not have enough armor to protect Big East football

What do Animal House and the Big East have in common? They’re the fraternities the rich kids don’t want to pledge. Among potential Big East additions: Temple and East Carolina. 

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What do Animal House and the Big East have in common? They’re the fraternities the rich kids don’t want to pledge. Among potential Big East additions: Temple and East Carolina. 

For a weekend, at least, it will be fun.

For a game, it will be frenzied, and it will be loud, and it will be electric. A rivalry can do that for you. It can make you forget about the deserters and the dysfunction of a league trying its best not to fall apart.

For the rest of the year, however, it is fair to wonder:

Is adding Central Florida enough to save the Big East?

The Knights are coming, it appears. After years of being ignored by the Big East, after all the times of them howling that mean old USF was blocking their path, various reports say the honchos of the league now want nothing more than a trip to Disney World.

Considering what is left of the Big East, this is good.

Considering the future of the league, however, is it good enough?

These days the Big East is Animal House, the fraternity the rich kids don't want to pledge. Except for East Carolina, which is Muhammed, and Villanova, which is Sidney, and Temple, which is Jugdish. Also Houston, Air Force and maybe Navy.

Just asking, but does that sound like a league with an automatic qualifier to the BCS?

Better question: Does it sound like a league that should keep one?

For the Big East, that always has been the important question: Which program, if any, is going to solidify its automatic bid? That's the most prestigious thing the Big East owns, and it should train guard dogs to protect it. And, for that matter, lawyers.

The truth of it is that the Big East has never been a great football conference. National champions have not come from it (not since Miami left, anyway). Players do not pose for the Heisman while playing in the Big East (not since UM's Gino Torretta left, anyway). Over the past five seasons, when the SEC was winning five national titles, the Big East didn't have a team finish in the top five of the Associated Press poll final voting.

As other conferences get bloated, it is hard to see the Big East's automatic bid not facing some sort of challenge. Maybe that's why the Big East is now talking about going to 12 teams. After all, there is nothing quite as distracting as planning an add-on when the house is on fire.

Given that, I have no problem with UCF joining the Big East. Among the teams that answered the phone, which is a better candidate? Still, you have to admit: If UCF is the perfect upgrade, the SEC or ACC would have been on its campus long ago.

(You can argue that Boise State would be the significant boost the league needs, but it doesn't seem to be quite east enough even for a league that tried to include TCU before the Horned Frogs' double-reverse. I'd invite Boise State and tell it to bring BYU as its plus-one.)

So is the Big East big enough for UCF and USF? Certainly it is. Four teams from Texas are in the Big 12, four from North Carolina in the ACC, four from California in the Pac-12. Why not two from Florida in the Big East? And if you want to know the truth, UCF has certainly been as good in football as Syracuse has been lately.

As for the accusations that USF has been blocking UCF's entrance into the Big East, well, what if it was? There has never been a time when more teams were looking out for their self-interest than now. If I were in charge of USF and I thought it was to my benefit to keep out UCF (or FIU or FAU, for that matter), well, I'd announce it at noon in the middle of campus.

Of course, if I ran USF, I also would be sending large packages of Omaha Steaks to Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas. Also, I would send flowers, candy and charts showing where Tampa Bay ranks nationally among TV markets. Hint: It's bigger than Louisville and West Virginia.

At this point, the Big East has turned into The Great Escape. Pitt and Syracuse dug a tunnel, and UConn and Rutgers are trying to cut through the fence, and Louisville and West Virginia are willing to forge documents. So who could blame USF for trying to steal a motorcycle and hop the barbed wire? I'd be all for downgrading the conference name, but frankly, the Middle East is already taken.

For USF, that has to be the most frustrating part of college football realignment. No one is even flirting with the Bulls. There hasn't been one good headline about another conference wanting to woo USF. For crying out loud, at this point, even an erroneous blog mention would do. From all appearances, USF may be the team in charge of turning out the light if this conference eventually crumbles.

The point is not whether USF is too big for UCF or the other way around. The point is whether the rebuilt Big East would be big enough for anyone to notice. Who has East Carolina and Villanova in the league title game? And over at the bowl formerly known as Papa John's, the prospect of landing Temple is going to leave a lot of people with sore palms from all the high-fiving.

Tell me: Who isn't this league interested in? DeVry?

Understand, then, why the thoughts of USF and UCF getting their fans together to exchange snarky comments is a good thing for the Big East. Frankly, it's the best thing that has happened to the league in a long time.

Welcome to the medium time, UCF.

Ignore the mess, won't you?

UCF Knights might not have enough armor to protect Big East football 10/11/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 10:58pm]

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