Pitt And WVU Will Be Focal Points At Big East Media Day

Dion Lewis and Noel Devine are expected to lead the Big East.

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WVU Anxious To Knock Pitt Down A Peg

West Virginia will look to take the Big East crown this year and after seeing Pitt named as the preseason favorite, the Mountaineers are readying themselves to knock off the Panthers:

“We’re definitely starting to get our swagger back,” Sanders said. “We feel like we should have been No. 1 since we beat Pitt last year. But that’s all right. We’ll find out at the end of the year.”

Seemingly lost in all the love for Pitt is the simple fact that WVU did indeed win last year’s game. The Pitt/WVU game could very well decide the conference champion and Pitt may need to avenge last year’s defeat if the school wants to reach a BCS game. Panther fans can point to the fact that this year’s game will be played at Heinz Field, but so was last year’s defeat at the hands of Cincinnati for the conference crown.

Meanwhlie, WVU has had two consecutive nine-win seasons, but is looking for double digit victories this year:

“That’s not the kind of team we want to be,” linebacker J.T. Thomas said. “We want to be a 10-, 11- or 12-win kind of team.”

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Dave Wannstedt Plays Down Expectations

Upon finding out his team was selected as the conference favorite, Pitt football coach Dave Wannstedt did what nearly every other college coach in the same position would do – play down expectations. Despite having a team full of stars and a solid team from top to bottom, Wannstedt wasn’t ready to proclaim the Panthers as the team to beat:

“But I think we still have a lot of holes to fill,” Wannstedt said. “It’s not an individual game; it’s a team game. The challenge will be putting a team together.”

Pitt DE Greg Romeus added:

“Last year, we were sitting here as the No. 1 team in the preseason, too, and we didn’t finish where we wanted,” Romeus said. “So we have to understand this is a preseason thing, and we have to step up and prove that we’re the best team in the conference.”

This is the year Pitt needs to come together and win a conference championship. Despite the progress Wannstedt has made, he’s yet to do the one thing that Walt Harris did – get the Panthers to the BCS. Being a favorite means that you’ve got talent and now Pitt needs to use that talent to keep the momentum going from the past two seasons.

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Bill Stewart Speaks

WVU Head Coach Bill Stewart sat down with WV MetroNews’ Chip Fontenazza at Big East media day. Click here to view their conversation. Coach Stew said that Devine missed media day because “He ate too much lobster! He’d never seen seafood like that!” Which leads us at SBNation Pittsburgh to ask, uh, isn’t Devine from Florida?

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WVU's Noel Devine Misses Media Day

Small addition – WVU running back Noel Devine, who was scheduled to appear at media day, is apparently sick:

West Virginia star tailback Noel Devine missed today’s media day because he is sick and in bed in his hotel room. According to a West Virginia spokesman, Devine likely has a light case of food poisoning from a seafood dinner he ate last night.

Among the player attendees, looks like Jock Sanders and J.T. Thomas will carry the load for WVU today.

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John Marinatto Comments At Big East Media Day

Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant has some of Big East Commissioner John Marinatto’s remarks today:

- Added the Big East conference is stronger today, in every way, than at any point in its history.

- Marinnato has instructed coaches not to speculate on conference’s future.

- Said Big East continues to be one of the most televised confereces in the country.

- Believes Big East will be one of the most balanced in the country in 2010.

Surprise surprise – Memphis’ addition was not one of them.

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Pitt Ranked #1, WVU #2 In Big East Media Poll

Pitt and WVU finished first and second in the ranking of Big East teams by the media.

As expected, Pitt finished first in the poll. The Panthers received 22 of the 24 first-place votes and was one of the biggest clear-cut favorites in Big East history – short as it may be.

WVU finished in a tie for second vs. reigning conference champion, Cincinnati. Last season, the Mountaineers beat Pitt in their head to head matchup. WVU and fourth-ranked Connecticut received the remaining two first-place votes.

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Pitt And WVU Will Be Focal Points At Big East Media Day

With the Big East football media day to kick off on Tuesday, the issue still on everyone's mind is expansion. Sure, the conference has thus far dodged a major bullet with the Big 12 remaining intact, thus potentially delaying major realignments across the country. But the end of the Big East may still be around the corner unless something is done quickly. One of those things could be expansion for the conference itself and with media day imminent, the rumors of potential expansion are rearing their head once again.

A rep from website Kentucky Sports Radio, has gotten the sports world's attention by posting the following on the site's twitter account:

Put this in the "rumor to file away in case it happens category." Usually reliable source tells me Memphis will join the Big East on Tuesday

Most have dismissed the post as not much more than the ramblings we've heard on expansion for the past few months. I don't see this happening tomorrow for the simple fact that it's not been leaked anywhere else. But I do think Memphis is likely on the Big East's radar for schools to approach should it decide to expand.

Now, onto teams actually in the Big East.

Local teams Pitt and WVU are expected by many to figure in the discussion for conference champion. ESPN.com's Big East blogger, Brian Bennett, expects Pitt and WVU to top the conference's preseason poll

And it appears that even the conference sees it that way, as they've featured Dion Lewis and Noel Devine on their front page for the event's site. Granted, Lewis and Devine are the Big East's two biggest stars, but all signs point to the championship coming down to one of these two teams, which combined to win 19 games a year ago.

Both teams have not only some of the best backs in the conference, but in the nation. Unfortunately for the rest of the conference, that's not all. Each team also boasts significant star power. Pitt has some of the best players in their country at their respective positions in WR Jonathan Baldwin, DE Greg Romeus, and OT Jason Pinkston. WVU counters with WR Jock Sanders, S Robert Sanders, and DT Chris Nield. Without a great defense and the loss of its two best players in QB Tony Pike and WR/KR Mardy Gilyard, reigning champ Cincinnati could be out of the picture.

Only time will tell, though.

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