PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Ray Rice #27 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals at Rutgers Stadium on November 9, 2006 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
UPDATE: Removed 2005 Virginia Tech and Boston College from the list -- there was an error on the spreadsheet, and they were still listed as Big East teams until 2006.
With a lot of these profiles, I find myself referencing things that have happened in recent history. I like the way that sets the narrative, but also ... well, I didn't have a blog like this when things happened in the past, and now I do, and I have things to say. So, while this has little to nothing to do with 2011, let's talk a bit more about that magnificent 2006 Rutgers team.
Ten Best Big East Teams Since 2005, According to F/+ (F/+ Rating, F/+ Rank, Record)
1. 2006 Louisville (+26.5%, fifth, 12-1)
2. 2007 West Virginia (+25.8%, third, 11-2)
3. 2006 West Virginia (+24.1%, seventh, 11-2)
4. 2006 Rutgers (+20.3%, ninth, 11-2)
5. 2007 South Florida (+17.9%, ninth, 9-4)
6. 2005 West Virginia (+17.2%, 13th, 11-1)
7. 2009 Cincinnati (+16.9%, 15th, 12-1)
8. 2005 Louisville (+14.6%, 19th, 9-3)
9. 2010 Pittsburgh (+14.6%, 19th, 8-5)
10. 2008 Pittsburgh (+14.4%, 14th, 9-4)
If Rutgers had peaked with their 2006 success a couple of years later, they'd have been in a BCS bowl and potentially threatened to go undefeated. Instead, they peaked at a time when Louisville and West Virginia were doing the same.
It certainly bears mentioning that only one team in the top eight has played in the last three years. That team, 2009 Cincinnati, went undefeated but ranked just 15th in F/+ due to their weak schedule and weaker defense. The conference's average F/+ has not faded very much in recent years, but the greatness has faded from the top teams. Now, we get a lot of pretty good teams, no great ones, and almost no terrible ones. In 2006, however, the conference had three great teams.
One does get the impression that with limited star recruits in the northeast, things are zero-sum in the Big East at this point. If one team becomes great, another one sinks quickly.
One also gets the impression that perhaps Dave Wannstedt wasn't a very good game coach. He put very good products on the field in 2008 and 2010 and lost nine games.