- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Inspired by the new social game ESPNU College Town, here’s what I would select from around the Big East to build the best program in the conference:
Academics: Syracuse. It's the highest ranked school in the league on the U.S. News and World Report's Best Colleges list (No. 55) and one of only two private institutions in the conference.
Athletic director: Tom Jurich, Louisville. Widely hailed as one of the best in the business, Jurich has overseen an amazing transformation of the Cardinals' entire sports program and built sparkling facilities from the ground up.
City: Tampa. Tough call here, but the location alone gives South Florida's home base the nod. To be surrounded by so much rich high school talent is to always have a chance to compete.
Coach: Randy Edsall. Despite some early struggles this season, Edsall is one of the most respected teachers in the game and a guy who has built Connecticut's program almost from scratch. In a couple of years, we might be talking about Charlie Strong or Skip Holtz for this position, but they're still getting started at their programs.
Facilities: Connecticut. You wouldn't think UConn would have the best facilities in the Big East. Until you go see them.
Fans: West Virginia. Hands down. There's no more passionate or loyal fan base in the Big East.
Game day atmosphere: West Virginia. See above. The Mountaineers have easily the best pure college game-day experience in the league.
Mascot: The Mountaineer. I mean, the guy (or sometimes girl) has a gun. And is not afraid to use it.
Stadium: Milan Puskar Stadium. West Virginia's home is the largest on-campus stadium in the Big East.
Strength program: Pittsburgh. Pitt players past and current talk in near reverential tones about strength coach Buddy Morris. Plus, the Panthers get to share workout space with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Put those all together, and you'd have one pretty powerful Big East program.
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
5dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney