July 17, 2007

Nation's eyes turn to Big East

NEWPORT, R.I. -- Flanking the podium where Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese gave his opening remarks to the Big East Football Media Day contingent Tuesday morning at The Viking Hotel was an impressive lineup of glittering hardware from the 2006 season.

Dominating the table to the right of Tranghese was the large Bowl Challenge Cup awarded each year to the Bowl Championship Series league with the best bowl record, an honor the Big East captured by going 5-0 in its bowls. Also on exhibit were the five trophies from those games -- UofL's Orange Bowl trophy, plus those from the PapaJohns.com Bowl (USF); the Texas Bowl (Rutgers), Gator Bowl (West Virginia) and International Bowl (Cincinnati).

Yes, the Big East is on a roll, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Not with four -- count 'em, four -- Heisman Trophy candidates and as many as four teams -- UofL, Rutgers, West Virginia and South Florida -- ranked in various preseason top 25 polls, with the Cardinals and Mountaineers being widespread top-10 picks.

The league's Media Day in this high-end seaside resort town attracted a record 200 print, radio and TV reporters, not counting an ESPN crew that interviewed all the coaches and many of the players for telecast this afternoon. ESPN, which recently signed a long-term deal with the Big East, also had cameras following West Virginia standouts Steve Slaton and Pat White during their trip to Rhode Island as part of an all-access story they will air later in the year.

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