Boston College can take themselves out of the Big East, but they can’t take the Big East out of New England. No matter how many local schools play in the conference, New England is still Big East country.
College football fans understand the distinction in styles of play between individual conferences. The SEC is known for its size and speed. The Big Ten is known for its smash-mouth style. The Pac-10 is unfairly known as a “soft” conference. (In actuality, the average Pac-10 team plays much more physical than the average Big 12 team.) The Big 12 is known for high-powered offenses. And then there’s the Big East, known as a scrappy conference with more of an NFL feel and conventional style of play.
Big East teams have not been known for a lot of trick plays or gimmicks that schools like Florida and Oklahoma run. Instead, they make their living with standard formations. On paper, it’s easy to look at the high scoring spread offenses from the Big 12 and ask, “Why can’t the Big East just do that?” The answer is that the Big East lacks the personnel.
Besides former conference members Miami and Virginia Tech, schools from the Big East rarely get five-star high school players. The main reasons for this is that the majority of these top high schoolers come from the South, Midwest or West. Few come from the Northeast. In Texas, high school and college football are a way of life. In New England, the NFL rules.
On paper, Big East football has left New England. Since Boston College ran away, the conference has only one football program from this region: the University of Connecticut. But just because BC left doesn’t mean the local league of choice has changed. New England is still Big East territory. (Since BC left for the ACC, Boston area TV stations are subject to ACC blackout rules. This is foolish.)
It’s fun to watch trick plays from the ACC or the spread offenses from the Big 12, but at the end of the day, New England is Big East country. The conference’s style of play fits in perfectly with the people: direct and to the point. Teams like UConn and Pitt don’t run many double reverse halfback passes and they aren’t fans of the option. They just line up in basic formations and play ball, eleven on eleven. No pomp and circumstance. No frills. What’s more New England than that?
There’s a reason movie stars and those who want to be seen don’t live here. This isn’t Miami, Dallas, New York or Los Angeles. New England rewards hard work and respects people who have the “whatever it takes” attitude. Think about it, who’s your favorite current Red Sox player? If you’re under 18, you might say Big Papi or Jonathan Papelbon. If you’re over 30, you would probably say Kevin Youkilis or Jason Varitek.
That’s why the Big East is a perfect fit for New England. Big East football is Kevin Youkilis, while Big 12 football is Mark Teixeira. Sure, Teixeira is a little better, but not $10 million a year better. Plus, Youkilis is the gritty, no nonsense type of player that locals love.
Part of the reason why college football plays second fiddle in New England is because the style of play in the Big East is so similar to the NFL. This is understandable. But New Englanders who love college football appreciate the Big East approach. Other conferences can have their glitz and razzle-dazzle. We’ll stick with no-nonsense, tough play and an unassuming nature. That’s the Big East. That’s New England.
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