Okay, so we know that the world of college athletics begins in the fall and ends in the spring, occupying part of two years during one academic year. But just as all of us should do individually at the conclusion of the calendar year, we thought we would take this opportunity to reflect upon the BIG EAST's accomplishments during the same time frame.
We want to know which of these is the most significant, so we encourage you to share this with friends on your social media platforms and to vote on our home page fan poll. We'll share the results after New Year's has past.
Country Roads Through NYC to Indianapolis
Those of us who were at Madison Square Garden for the 2010 BIG EAST Championship will remember not only Da'Sean Butler's storybook performance that led West Virginia to its first ever men's basketball conference tournament title, but perhaps even more so the scene on the floor as the team celebrated while John Denver's Country Roads blared through the sound system. Butler had two game-winning shots in the Mountaineers' three tournament wins and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. WVU's ride continued through the NCAA Tournament as it qualified for the school's first Final Four since 1959.
A Fall To Remember
The fall of 2010 was one many of our student-athletes won't soon forget. The BIG EAST had two national championship teams this fall: Villanova won the NCAA Women's Cross Country title and Notre Dame won the NCAA Women's Soccer title. In addition, Louisville men's soccer made it to its first ever national title game in men's soccer. The BIG EAST was the only conference in the country to earn two Olympic sports national titles in the fall of 2010 and now has 30 team national titles in its 31-year history.
Bigger is Better
Commissioner John Marinatto recently said that BIG EAST founder and first commissioner Dave Gavitt had great vision when he created the league in 1979 by not putting any numbers in the conference's name. "We're called the BIG EAST for a reason," Marinatto said. On Nov. 29, the BIG EAST, already the largest conference in all of Division I athletics, got even bigger when it welcomed Texas Christian University to the league, which will become effective July 1, 2012. The BIG EAST footprint, with 17 member institutions, now occupies 14 states and 25 percent of all television households ranging from Rhode Island to Texas.
Excellence Taken To New Heights
Dominance is nothing new to the UConn women's basketball program. Before 2009, Geno Auriemma's team had reached nine Final Fours and won five national championships. In 2010, though, the Huskies set a new standard of excellence that many predict we will never see again. On Dec. 21, UConn defeated Florida State to win its 89th consecutive game, a new NCAA Division I college basketball record, one longer than the 1971-74 UCLA Bruins, which held the previous record of 88. The Huskies, led by mainstays Maya Moore and Tiffany Hayes who played in each of the 89 victories, won two national titles during the streak.