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The Big East has, for all intents and purposes, been absolutely dismantled over the last two seasons. In fact, and most importantly, the conference we will be watching on the football field will not even been called the Big East (yes we used Big East in the title simply because we aren’t sure what to call the new conference yet), but will be taking on a whole new name altogether. The ‘Catholic 7′, basketball-only schools that voted to break off from the conference in order to start a new league have taken the ‘Big East’ name for themselves.
Thus, this entirely new conference, bereft of the formerly great football rivalries including teams such as Miami, West Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville, is looking to redefine itself with the teams currently on board.
With those great programs and rivalries gone with the wind, ESPN would like you to start getting fired up for the epic grudge-match of two college football heavyweights, Central Florida and South Florida. In fact, according to Big East expert Andrea Adelson, the four-game old UCF-USF rivalry is currently the very best the conference has to offer.
“I do agree this is the best rivalry the Big East has moving forward. But I disagree with [the] contention that rivalries save a conference. I mean the Texas A&M-Texas rivalry did not save that conference from changing membership, nor did the the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry, to name two examples. I am not sure there is language in the contract that specifically outlines how the Big East should promote this rivalry, but I do believe it would benefit the conference to market this game aggressively, and put it in a marquee spot on the schedule. But it takes time to build a rivalry that grabs the national spotlight. Both teams need to start being big-time national players before folks outside Florida start really paying attention.”
So, if you had not taken the time to really take stock of how low this conference has fallen in only a few short years’ time, this had ought to do it.
Central Florida has only been a Division I program since 1996. USF? 2001.
Thus, the two programs have not had time to build into national championship-contending programs, nor have they had the time to develop any sort of real rivalry.
The Knights of UCF and South Florida’s Bulls have faced off against one another four times. In what came to be known as “The War on 1-4″, South Florida crushed the Knights in all four matchups between 2005 and 2008, including a 64-12 drubbing in 2008 that effectively ended the series until UCF joined the Big East effective in 2013.
Now, these two schools are going to face off every year in what has become a glorified Conference USA. ESPN recently matched NBC’s bid for the league’s broadcasting rights, thus earning the right to put games on their family of networks.
Somehow, they have to get people that are not fans of the teams to watch games like Memphis taking on Tulane, or UConn facing off against Houston.
Or, of course, the league’s new cornerstone rivalry, Central Florida and South Florida.
What a doozie — or a snooze-fest — either way.