When Providence Friars head coach Ed Cooley proclaimed that the Big East was still, in his mind, the toughest conference in college basketball, those sentiments were driven around the landscape of college basketball with multiple raised eyebrows. While it's true that the conference has seen a tremendous amount of success over the years, many question whether or not it's one of the elite conferences in college basketball: in the company of the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Big Ten Conferences just to name a few.
In the past, the Big East Conference used to produce some of basketball's best: Patrick Ewing, Allen Iverson, Mark Jackson, Alonzo Mourning, and many more made names for themselves under its banner. Over the past few years however, there has been in a decrease in talent production. The only players that got drafted this year out of the conference was the superstar of the Creighton Bluejays, Doug McDermott and Xavier Musketeers point guard Semaj Christon.
Make no mistake: there is still talent in the conference that can go to the NBA, but the conference does not get the attention that the Big 12, ACC, SEC, and Big Ten get.
In the present time, the NBA houses several names who came out the conference such as Greg Monroe, Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Wesley Matthews and others. But a transcendent superstar has not come out of the conference since Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony. And the Orange are no longer even in the conference.
So we ask the question - is the Big East still a power conference?
Exposure certainly plays a part in people's perceptions of the conference. ESPN and the Big East Conference have gone their separate ways, and the network has not exactly responded in a positive light. After FOX Sports collected the conference's television rights prior to the 2013-14 season the entities went their separate ways and never truly captured the magic they had for many years. With that said, it was recently announced that the network will be broadcasting part of the "Gavitt Tip-Off Games" starting in the 2015 season. So this could be the start of a revitalization, in that regard.
This could be a critical year for the "new" Big East Conference. Year 1 saw the spotlight shine on Doug McDermott, but he's since left, so now it will rest on the familiar powerhouses of Villanova and Georgetown and the like to carry the load. In addition, it might be wise for other schools to challenge themselves a bit to get that spotlight back. It's evident that some are, with Seton Hall taking on Wichita State, Georgetown going to the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, and Villanova taking on Illinois in the 2014 Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Is the Big East a good conference? Of course it is. Is the Big East a power conference? That's left to be decided. The simple fact is that it needs to get back to being like it was in the past, even though several other members have jumped ship to other conferences. It will take a while, but I believe it will get back to the position it was in.