One Big's Better Than The Other

Is the Big East a better conference than the Big Ten?

June 29, 2007

By Trev Alberts

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Trev Alberts is a football analyst for CSTV and
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You've got college football questions and CSTV football analyst Trev Alberts has answers and opinions. Each week Alberts will be answering questions and queries on the world of college football. So if you've got a question for Trev, just ask him.


Right now, with this coming season, despite the difference in the number of teams, which do you think is a stronger overall football conference, the Big East or the Big Ten? - Ben Crawford




That's a great question. I have to tell you, and I think I might have said it before, but it bears repeating: Mike Tranghese, the commissioner of the Big East, has done a wonderful job leading that conference. He got hammered when he was the head of the BCS and I could raise my hand of being guilty of thinking the Big East should not have received an automatic bid to the BCS. It was a conference in flux, soon headed to irrelevancy level. But I respect what they've been able to accomplish.


My opinion would be that the Big Ten is more established and they have traditions that can't be put down, like Michigan-Ohio State. Are they as strong as they once were? Probably not. But they're still the Big Ten. And I think their status extends beyond football.


That being said, I don't think you can speak highly enough of the Big East. Has there been a transition of power? Sure. Syracuse is a program that just needs to get better. But you look at the conference as a whole and you see that West Virginia is a Top 10 program. Look at the coaches in the Big East and you'll see they have an excellent corps of coaches. When Rich Rodriguez turns down Alabama that says something. Louisville is another example. Cardinals athletic director Tom Jurich is doing such a great job, bringing in Steve Kragthorpe, who I happen to think the world of. Dave Wannstedt has done a great job recruiting at Pittsburgh, and I think it's only a matter of time before they're back. How about South Florida and Jim Leavitt?


I'm not ready to make the leap to say who is better. It's not fair. But the Big East has come a long way from being decimated from the defections. They're not just standing there. They're competing at the highest level. The Big East is more than a viable conference. And they're only going to get better.


Nick Saban is the highest paid coach in the country, but if you were the one shelling out the money, who would you make the highest paid coach? - Kevin, Tennessee


I think Nick Saban needs to be in that conversation. That doesn't mean I'm saying he doesn't deserve to be the highest paid coach in the country. After all, coaches are only really worth what they bring back to the university. Has Charlie Weis beaten the Michigans on his schedule and won the BCS games? No. But he's returned Notre Dame to relevance and Irish fans would say he's worth every dime.


Oklahoma was bordering on irrelevancy and then Bob Stoops brought them back to a level of excitement. USC was irrelevant a few years ago, now they're relevant under Pete Carroll. Buy Bob Stoops, Charlie Weis and Nick Saban at LSU. Those guys come to the top of my mind. Kirk Ferentz is another.


Bret Bielema is well-deserving of the extension he's recently gotten. How about Jeff Tedford? He has taken that program to another level. As much as Mack Brown makes, the B.J.-loving Texans had fallen on some hard times and never really found themselves after Darrell Royal and now they're competing at the elitist of levels. You could point out Paul Johnson at Navy. The Naval Academy is a legitimate player on the national scene, and Navy is just at a different level than the other two academies right now. Even with all the stress he deals with every day, you could point to Lloyd Carr, especially the way he's transitioned from Bo Schembechler. You'd be remissed to not point out Frank Beamer. He's built Virginia Tech into a consistent Top 10 powerhouse. He's worth every penny he gets. Even with the lower levels, there's Mark Mangino at Kansas who has the Jayhawks as legitimate players.


And let's not forget Urban Meyer. Let's face it, following Steve Spurrier is so difficult. Not that Ron Zook did a bad job, but Florida had fallen off and Meyer brought the swagger back to Florida football.


Assuming USC and Michigan are their respective conference's representatives in BCS games, who would you say has the better chance to join them in the BCS, Cal or Wisconsin? - D.L., Santa Cruz, Calilf.


I would say Wisconsin. I'm a pretty big believer in Bret Bielema. Very rarely have you seen a coach come into the program and rescue them like Barry Alvarez did and you usually see the next coach who follows someone like that struggle to live up to expectations. Not only has Bielema continued Alvarez's tradition, but he's raised it. I think they represent what Alvarez made Wisconsin football, but he's taken the next step, changing just a few things to make them more complete. I'm excited to see Wisconsin this season and where they go. It's a fun year if you're a Badger fan.