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Thirteen Ridiculous Months Of Big East Football News - A Timeline

It's been one hell of a year to be a Pitt football fan. The same goes for the rest of the Big East.
It's been one hell of a year to be a Pitt football fan. The same goes for the rest of the Big East.

No conference has experienced more consistent upheaval and instability both on the field, and among its membership, than the Big East. With Todd Graham's departure to Arizona State after coaching Pittsburgh less than one calendar year, here's a look at the past 54 weeks in Big East football, just to give outsiders a sense of what it's like to cover this conference. This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it captures what has been the biggest soap opera of a year for a conference I can remember.

  • November 30, 2010 - TCU Joins The Big East - with great fanfare, TCU becomes the Big East's 9th football playing member when it accepts a bid to join the Big East and provide it with a boost in terms of football credibility. The invitation was issued largely with the help and lobbying of current Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon.
  • December 7, 2010 - Pitt Fires Dave Wannstedt - After a disappointing 7-5 season (that still managed to qualify for a Big East co-championship), Pitt fired Dave Wannstedt in hopes of finding an energetic, more exciting coach that could help return the Panthers to national prominence.
  • December 16, 2010 - West Virginia Hires Dana Holgorsen To Be Head Coach In Waiting - Much like Pitt, West Virginia tied for the Big East title and won nine games, but was still disappointed with the boring style of play and disappointing late season losses, so the darling of college football assistant coaches, Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, was hired to be head coach in waiting for the 2011 and give nice guy Bill Stewart a final goodbye tour as head coach before Holgorsen takes over in spring 2012.
  • December 17, 2010 - Pittsburgh Hires Mike Haywood - Pittsburgh finds its replacement in Miami (OH) head coach Mike Haywood, who in two years took over a moribund program and led it to a MAC championship. Some Pitt fans were leery of the hire from day one, and they were justified, because...
  • December 31, 2010 - Mike Haywood Arrested, Fired - New Pittsburgh head coach Mike Haywood is arrested for domestic violence after a heated dispute with the mother of one of his children in Indiana. Haywood was fired by Pitt the following day.
  • January 1, 2011 - 8-4 UConn Blown Out In The Fiesta Bowl - UConn, who went 8-4 in the regular season but 5-2 in the Big East, went to the Fiesta Bowl and was dominated by Big 12 champion Oklahoma. The Huskies being the Big East's representative in the BCS marked the low water mark in Big East football. Additionally, UConn lost over $1 million on tickets due to low demand from fans.
  • January 3, 2011 - Randy Edsall Leaves UConn for Maryland - After leading his team to a BCS bowl for the first time in school history, Randy Edsall leaves UConn to take the head coaching position at Maryland. In his opening press conference, Edsall coins the joke of the college football season by calling Maryland his "dream job". Edsall earns the ire of college football fans across the country by forcing his star tailback Jordan Todman to tell the entire team he is leaving for the NFL, but then refusing to meet with his own team in person to inform them of his departure for Maryland.
  • January 10, 2011 - Pitt Hires Todd Graham - In an effort to, again, find a more exciting style of football, Pitt hires Tulsa head coach Todd Graham to replace Mike Haywood. Graham promises to bring his "high octane" style from Tulsa and make Pitt ball exciting to watch for a change.
  • January 13, 2011 - UConn Hires Paul Pasqualoni - In a move that few understand, UConn hires former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni to replace Randy Edsall. The move is questioned because Pasqualoni is in his 60s and has been out of college football for a decade. Still, he is a native of New England and most fans are willing to give him a shot. But one booster is not so happy...
  • January 25, 2011 - Prominent Booster Upset Over Pasqualoni Hiring - A prominent UConn booster, Robert Burton, demands his $3 million gift to Huskies athletics back after the school did not give him enough of a say in the hiring of Randy Edsall's replacement. Burton's preference: Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, who eventually took the Temple job.
  • April 11, 2011 - Big East Tables Villanova's Move To FBS Football - After appearing to be on their way to becoming the Big East's 10th football member, Villanova is shocked to learn that Big East leadership has decided to table its move. Concerns over fan attendance and Villanova's stadium situation are too much for some to live with as the conference focuses on its upcoming television contract renegotiation.
  • May 25, 2011 - Holgorsen Booted From Nitro, WV Casino - Confirming what many thought about him already, Dana Holgorsen confirmed that he is, in fact, a party animal by getting drunk and kicked out of a casino in West Virginia. Holgorsen was not charged with any crimes, but the incident was embarrassing and Holgorsen later apologized. That would not be the final word on his public issues...
  • May 26, 2011 - The Big East Turns Down ESPN's Television Offer - With its television contract with ESPN set to expire after the 2012 season, the Big East turns down an initial offer from ESPN of $1 billion. A deal that would have paid each school around $11 million per year. The Big East rejected the deal with hopes of earning more on the open market.
  • May 28, 2011 - Chuck Landon's Hit Piece On Dana Holgorsen - Huntington, WV columnist Chuck Landon, no friend to West Virginia sports, publishes an article alleging that Dana Holgorsen's public embarrassment at the Nitro, WV casino on the 25th wasn't his only incident. Landon, citing anonymous sources, says there could have been as many as six other such incidents in Holgorsen's past, causing many to wonder who is telling Landon this and is Dana Holgorsen cut out to be the head coach.
  • June 11, 2011 - Bill Stewart Resigns As Head Coach At West Virginia - West Virginia officials internally investigate the claim that Holgorsen has had numerous other public incidents and discover that there is no merit to the claim. SB Nation's own The Smoking Musket blog reports that Chuck Landon's article was based on information given to him by none other than Bill Stewart in an effort to slander Holgorsen and perhaps keep him from taking over for him at the end of the 2011 season. Stewart quietly resigns without confirmation from anyone of the allegations, and Holgorsen is immediately named the head coach.
  • August 16, 2011 - Louisville Chief Recruiter Named In Explosive Yahoo Sports Investigation Of Miami - Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports dropped the year's bombshell, detailing years of NCAA rule-breaking by Nevin Shapiro, a prominent booster at Miami. The allegations detail years of activity with administrators, players, and coaches. One of the coaches named in the article? Louisville's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt. Hurtt was accused of taking recruits to Shapiro's home and to restaurants for meals on Shapiro's dime, as well as taking no-interest loans from Shapiro, which violates NCAA rules.
  • September 17, 2011 - Pittsburgh And Syracuse Leave The Big East For The ACC - With Commissioner John Marinatto sitting in a press box in Maryland, waiting for kickoff of the Maryland-West Virginia game, Pittsburgh and Syracuse quietly announce their intentions to leave for the ACC. No advanced notice was given, and Marinatto learns of the move from reporters calling him for comment.
  • September 24, 2011 - Replay Officials Botch Extra Point Call - Officials on the field and, inexplicably, replay officials in Syracuse completely botch an extra point call that gave Syracuse a three point lead that was clearly no good. The extra point left Toledo needing a game tying field goal as time expired when, had the call been made correctly, it would have been a game-winning field goal instead. Toledo officials requested that the game be vacated by the Big East but their request was denied.
  • October 6, 2011 - TCU Joins The Big 12 - After accepting a Big East invitation less than a year earlier, TCU accepted an invitation to the Big 12 to replace the losses of Texas A&M and eventually Missouri. The loss leaves the Big East once again in need of new members to salvage football credibility.
  • October 7, 2011 - Mike Sanford Out Midseason As Louisville Offensive Coordinator - Louisville offensive coordinator Mike Sanford mysteriously leaves the team after the Cardinals suffered an embarrassing loss at home to Marshall. Sanford was rumored to be at odds with both head coach Charlie Strong and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson. Sanford was even rumored to have gotten into a heated argument or perhaps fight at practice with the other coaches and stormed off, never to return. Louisville would show dramatic offensive improvement and finish 5-2 after his departure.
  • October 9, 2011 - Gene DeFilippo Spills The Beans On ESPN's Role In Realignment - Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo tells the Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun that in making its decision to expand, "ESPN told us what to do" confirming to many that ESPN was making a conscious effort to devalue or perhaps even break up the Big East in response to the Big East turning down its $1 billion offer in May.
  • October 28, 2011 - West Virginia Announces Its Departure To The Big 12 - In a move that surprised no one, West Virginia was accepted as a member of the Big 12. The problem? Unlike Pittsburgh and Syracuse, West Virginia announces it has no intention to wait out the 27 month waiting period and will be leaving for the 2012 season. This desire results in West Virginia filing a lawsuit against the Big East in West Virginia, and the Big East filing a counter-suit in Rhode Island to force them to carry out the waiting period as spelled out in the conference bylaws. The Big 12 evidently chose West Virginia over Louisville, despite the pleadings of Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell.
  • December 8, 2011 - Big East Adds Five New Teams, Two New Time Zones - In an effort to appease Boise State and to create as many possible kickoff times as possible, the Big East adds three new full members: SMU, UCF, and Houston. It also adds two football-only members: San Diego State and Boise State, in hopes of creating a west division and ultimately playing a championship game. This expansion creates a conference with teams in all four time zones and the hilarious fact that San Diego State's sports are now in the Big East and the Big West at the same time.
  • December 14, 2011 - Todd Graham Leaves For Arizona State - After less than a year on the job, Pitt coach Todd Graham leaves Pittsburgh to become the head coach at Arizona State. Graham leaves in such a hurry that he doesn't bother to meet with his players face to face to tell them of his departure. Instead, Graham sends an email to the director of football operations requesting that he send a text message to the players. Graham then delivers the identical opening press conference he delivered to Pitt, to lazy Arizona State media who never bother to ask him anything tough about his exit.