East Coast football’s downtrodden status contradicts its metropolitan reputation

Got a guest post today from Parker Jones that I wanted to publish and share with everyone. Enjoy!

The first month of college football season offers the promise of conference titles and greatness on campuses across the country.

Unless you live on the East Coast, that is.

While the East Coast saw pieces of national success in years past, dominance in NCAA football has shifted over the past few decades to the Southeast, Texas and West Coast. The East Coast wasn’t even able to sustain the one conference that bore its name – with Big East members disbanding for better times in other leagues.

One of those schools, Syracuse University, looks to regain the respectability that seemingly departed Central New York along with Donovan McNabb. The Orange have a couple recent second-tier bowl wins to their credit, but the program is a far cry from the powerhouse that made BCS trips routine in the 1990s. Despite its proximity to New York City and Boston, Syracuse has not been able to attract big-name recruits from the Northeast, who are departing for the SEC , Big 10 and Pac-12.

Even the school located in Boston is losing out. Boston College has rarely threatened for an ACC title since bolting from the Big East nearly a decade ago. The Eagles have crash-landed of late, recording two straight seasons of at least eight losses.  With New York City not hosting a school with a FBS-level college team, Boston is the biggest city on the East Coast with a squad. The Eagles are a glowing example of how far the reputation of the East Coast has fallen for football.

Sure, Rutgers has tried to bring respect to the tri-state area, but it’s bolting to the Big 10 and the added respect that aligning with the Midwest provides. The Scarlet Knights have actually played in seven bowls over the past decade but, prior to that, they only had one bowl appearance (1978). They were once considered for expulsion from the Big East due to a lack of competitiveness – a fate that had already fallen upon the biggest school in the East Coast’s third-largest city, Philadelphia. That would be the Temple Owls.

The other tri-state school, Connecticut, only joined college football’s highest level in 2002. The Huskies have appeared in five second-tier bowls in their brief existence, but they haven’t posed a serious threat for a national title and have experienced several straight losing seasons. Sure, the Connecticut Huskies are within range of Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. but they’ve failed to land many strong recruits.

And where UConn has struggled to climb, Navy has sunk like the Titanic. Navy, like its East Coast peer Army, was once among college football’s power triumvirate with Notre Dame. The Midshipmen do boast a winning record this century and a few second-tier bowl wins, but that’s thanks in no small part to a softer independent schedule. Navy won only 72 games over the last 20 years of the 20th century and hasn’t threatened on a national level in half a century. Its status as a service academy plays a role in this downgrade, considering blue-chip players wouldn’t dream of committing their lives to service when they can cash in in the SEC, but that allows Navy to perhaps serve as the role model for East Coast football’s downtrodden state.

A final note. Some of you may be asking “What about Penn State?” It’s certainly true that the Nittany Lions should be considered among the powerhouses of college football. However, they don’t qualify as “East Coast.” Tucked in western Pennsylvania, Penn State is decidedly “Midwest.” They compete in the Big 10, which is all about places like Ohio and Michigan. So Penn State does not qualify, sorry.