Going back through Big East history, schools often added value to the league in either football or men's basketball. Sometimes they added value in both, like Louisville this season, or UConn a couple years ago, or Syracuse in the 1990s. Teams that (DePaul) were useless (DePaul) tended to (DePaul) only be useless (DePaul) in one (DePaul) sport (DePaul), like DePaul. Only rarely have schools been useless in both of the Big East's revenue sports in a single season. This season, USF was one of those rare schools, but were they the worst football/basketball school in Big East history?
To figure this out, I made a list of the schools that played both Big East football and men's basketball (going back to 1993, when full conference play began in football) and combined for a winning percentage of under 30% in both sports. There were 21 in all:
- Pittsburgh 1994-95: 2-5 + 5-13 = 7-18 (.280)
- USF 2007-08: 4-3 + 3-15 = 7-18 (.280)
- Rutgers 2008-09: 5-2 + 2-16 = 7-18 (.280)
- Cincinnati 2006-07: 4-3 + 2-14 = 6-17 (.261)
- Miami 1993-94: 6-1 + 0-18 = 6-19 (.240)
- Rutgers 1996-97: 1-6 + 5-13 = 6-19 (.240)
- Rutgers 1997-98: 0-7 + 6-12 = 6-19 (.240)
- Boston College 1998-99: 3-4 + 3-15 = 6-19 (.240)
- Rutgers 2007-08: 3-4 + 3-15 = 6-19 (.240)
- USF 2008-09: 2-5 + 4-14 = 6-19 (.240)
- Rutgers 2010-11: 1-6 + 5-13 = 6-19 (.240)
- USF 2010-11: 3-4 + 3-15 = 6-19 (.240)
- Boston College 1994: 3-3-1 + 2-16 = 5-19-1 (.220)
- USF 2005-06: 4-3 + 1-15 = 5-18 (.217)
Let's stop here for a minute and point out an obvious flaw. Since you're playing more than twice as many basketball games as football games, a terrible basketball season can wipe out all but the very best football seasons. So while these all made the list, they are definitely not all created equal.
But from this point down, everyone on the list deserves their spot. These are the teams that won 20% or less of their football and men's basketball games:
- Pittsburgh 1995-96: 0-7 + 5-13 = 5-20 (.200)
- Pittsburgh 1998-99: 0-7 + 5-13 = 5-20 (.200)
The Panthers had a long stretch of mediocre and sub-mediocre football through the 1990s and 2000s. Combine that with some ugly basketball seasons before they hired Ben Howland, and that gets them on our list.
- Rutgers 2002-03: 0-7 + 4-12 = 4-19 (.174)
A couple of Greg Schiano's early building years at Rutgers, combined with their usual bad basketball teams, made the worst of the worst.
- USF 2012-13: 1-6 + 3-15 = 4-21 (.160)
Let's explore the depths of this record, the worst since the expanded 16-team Big East began in 2005-06.
The Bulls won zero Big East road games in either sport. The teams combined for only three road wins total, and only one of those was outside the state of Florida. They won a basketball game at Stetson, a basketball game at C. Florida, and the football game at Nevada that they tried their hardest to give away. It's also the fifth time USF appeared on this list, despite only playing in the Big East for eight years. Abysmal.
And yet, there were schools that did even worse.
- Rutgers 2004-05: 1-5 + 2-14 = 3-19 (.136)
Another one of the early Schiano years, combined with a particularly ugly basketball season. The next year, Gary Waters missed a game because he took off to be honored by his alma mater and got snowed in at the airport, then decided to resign.
- Rutgers 2000-01: 0-7 + 3-13 = 3-20 (.130)
This was the last Terry Shea football season, combined with the last Kevin Bannon season (he of the naked free throw incident). It was horrible.
And now... the worst Big East football and basketball season of all time...
- West Virginia 2001-02: 1-6 + 1-15 = 2-21 (.087)
Surprise! You thought maybe it would be Rutgers again, or Boston College? No, it's the Mountaineers, who obviously got things turned around shortly after Rich Rodriguez's first year as coach. They went 9-4 in 2002, finished the season ranked, and won two BCS bowls later in the decade. But the 2001 season was a disaster. West Virginia went 3-8 overall, and their only Big East football win that season was the infamous 80-7 shellacking of Rutgers.
Basketball wasn't any better. Longtime coach Gale Catlett retired after an 8-20 season, one of the worst in West Virginia basketball history. Their only Big East win was over Providence, 89-81. It was the only conference game in which they outscored the football team's 80 points against Rutgers. Catlett was replaced with John Beilein, and by 2005 the Mountaineers were in the Elite Eight.