Big East releases 2013 schedule
The Big East as we know it is gone, with the conference roster almost completely changed over from a decade ago, and by the time the fall gets here, this conference may not even be known as the Big East anymore. The conference's BCS designation goes away after this year, as the league will be forced to share one guaranteed berth to a premier bowl with the Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC and Sun Belt when the new playoff gets underway in 2014.
But before the future arrives, let's enjoy the present. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are gone, and Central Florida, Houston, SMU and Memphis have arrived in their place.
The full schedule can be viewed here, and here's what jumped out to us:
Weekday madness: The Big East will play a total of 15 non-Saturday games, including five on the opening weekend: Akron at UCF, Towson at Connecticut and Rutgers at Fresno State on Thursday, Aug. 29, and Southern at Houston and Texas Tech at SMU on Friday, Aug. 30. The latter game will be shown on ESPN. There is one Wednesday game, on Oct. 30 when Cincinnati visits Memphis (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Conference debuts: As mentioned above, the Big East welcomes four teams as its hiring class of 2013. Houston makes its debut at Temple on Sept. 7, UCF and Memphis play their first Big East game against each other on Oct. 5, and SMU gets its welcome to the league by hosting Rutgers on that same day.
Mark Your Calendar, Part I: Louisville and Rutgers are widely considered the favorites to win the Big East before the depart for new conferences. They will meet in Louisville on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Mark Your Calendar, Part II: If that game doesn't decide the conference, then this one probably will: Louisville at Cincinnati on Thursday, Dec. 5. Both games will be shown by ESPN. For what it's worth, the Big East has been historically great at placing its de facto championship game in the last week of the regular season. This game will also serve as Louisville's final Big East game.
War on I-4 renewed: South Florida and Central Florida are less than 90 miles apart, but have only met four times in their brief histories (USF has won all four meetings). They will meet again on Friday, Nov. 29 in Orlando in the first of what will become annual showdowns for as long as they're in the same league.
A Scarlet goodbye: Rutgers will play its final Big East game on Dec. 7 versus South Florida in Piscataway.
Coaching debuts: The Tommy Tuberville era at Cincinnati gets underway Aug. 31 when the Bearcats host Purdue. Their first Big East game is Oct. 5 at fellow newcomer Willie Taggart and USF. Taggart's first game leading the Bulls is on Aug. 31 versus McNeese State in Tampa.