I'VE ALWAYS wondered why anyone would want to beat a dead horse. I've wondered why they were beating the horse to begin with and what kind of sick mind would finish said beating and then think, "Hey, this would make a great idiom!"
So you will find no horse beating, dead or alive, here. Anyone who follows college football realizes the Big East has had a terrible year. We won't again break down the reasons.
To the credit of those involved with the league, there has been no attempt at putting lipstick on a pig. (Now there's an idiomatic expression one can get behind.) No spin.
It has flat been a down season for the league. The criticism is justified. And there is much more criticism ahead. Wait until all college football fans realize the BCS entrant from the Big East will have at least three losses.
The screaming outcry is coming, I promise, moments after ESPN airs the BCS Selection Show - via tons of domestic and international television outlets, radio, Internet and every digital platform known to man - at 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 5.
The Big East has no choice but to take the cannonball to the belly. And hope.
It has to hope that whatever league team "earns" the BCS berth either wins or puts up a good fight.
And the only hope of that happening is if West Virginia or Pittsburgh represents the Big East.
That's what makes this Friday's 103rd edition of the Backyard Brawl at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh important.
I understand. Neither may win the BCS berth. Pitt can win it by taking its last two games. Connecticut can win it by taking games against Cincy and at South Florida and hoping Pitt loses at least once. WVU needs to defeat the Panthers, win at home against Rutgers and hope Connecticut loses one of its final two games.
Three other teams have a shot of sharing a title.
But there are only two teams that have a shot of hanging with the Big 12 champion (think Oklahoma State) in the Fiesta Bowl and possibly having a chance of pulling an upset: WVU and Pitt. And one of teams will take a blow to the bow this Friday.
Why do I point to those two teams? For many reasons.
If you want cold, hard data, check the latest Sagarin computer ratings, which I believe to be as close to the truth as possible. WVU is the highest rated Big East team at No. 38; Pittsburgh is next at No. 39.
Temple, that team the Big East once kicked out, is rated higher than any other conference team. And the Owls touch down at No. 60.
After that comes No. 61 Syracuse and No. 62 Connecticut.