"Let's be honest..."

Let's be honest. That phrase is uttered just about every time a media member prepares to talk about Big East football. And let's be honest--it's not necessary. "Let's be honest" implies that everyone else is being dishonest. That everyone else has been blowing smoke up the Big East's collective hind end and you're going to be the one to give us the honest truth. But let's face it--just about every review you hear of the Big East is some variation of "That's Big LEAST, amirite? *self-satisfied chuckle*"

Perhaps one of the biggest recent blows was the conference being all but left off of conference previews on the ESPNU College Football Podcast with Ivan Maisel. Ivan later apologized and chalked it up to a timing issue on his part, but I saw that sort of treatment coming the second the week started and he announced that they'd be previewing conferences all week. Five days. Six AQ conferences. Take your guess who gets left out.

I say six AQ conferences, and while I realize that's a lame-duck designation with a playoff on the horizon, it still puts the Big East among the power conferences, even if it's as the sixth of six. And before ACC fans get all self-righteous from the #5 spot, I'll point out that the ACC lording dominion over the Big East is kind of like someone who has a crappy day at their crappy job coming home to their studio apartment and kicking the dog.

It seems that with the impending playoff, the Big East will find itself midway between the gutter and the stars. The SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and Pac-12 will continue to hold all the chips, letting a few spill the direction of the ACC and Big East, who will still sit ahead of Conference USA, Sun Belt, and the like. The ACC admittedly has a leg up with its Orange Bowl tie-in still guaranteeing it access to the major bowls, something the Big East has not yet secured. There are a lot of factors at play for the conference, including a TV deal to be negotiated soon by the new leadership, changing membership for each of the next few years, and of course the performance of the teams currently in and soon to be in the conference.

That said, despite the much-ballyhooed blowing of white smoke following the announcement of the playoff, it's still two years off, and as we've seen in the past two years, it's a long time in college football years. Also two years off is the passing of the conference contract, and yet you wouldn't know it with the way the Worldwide Leader treats one of its conferences. While I know what it will mean for our coverage on the most watched sports network--look at the NHL--I actually hope the Big East severs ties and becomes a major player with a different sports network, taking its vaunted basketball with it.

I can't talk Big East without talking the reason I'm a fan of the conference: My own USF Bulls. I'm optimistic for a strong season and even contention for the conference throne, but I'm not stranger to our midseason slump and sub-.500 conference records for each of the past four years. Still, with a non-conference games interspersed with conference tilts, a veteran team, and the hope that the unfortunate bounces of last year may be reversed, I will enter this season cautiously optimistic.

Besides, it's JUST the Big East, amirite?

Entering this season, I direct you to take a look at a couple of great reads and folks who can talk Big East and USF with far more authority than I: Big East Coast Bias and Voodoo Five.

Big East football. We all we got.