Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 5/10/13
(Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports) After spending the last five days reviewing the new “American,” it’s time for the Crystal Ball Run staff to make their conference championship picks. Allen Kenney’s Take: The lack of stability within the membership of the Conference Formerly Known as the Big East fits with the outlook for the league in 2013. The default strategy for projecting out to the next season - what happened last year - doesn't really apply. The only real certainty to me is that Louisville is the class of The American. The only question for the Cards: Will an upstart like Central Florida or Houston spoil their undefeated dreams? Champ: Louisville MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Coach of the Year: Charlie Strong Andy Coppens’ Take: The American… more like the Island of misfit football teams, am I right people? O.k., lame joke aside I think people are vastly underrating the potential that this league has to be a player in 2013. For this league to gain any credibility it needs to hit a few home runs and luckily they've got a ton of opportunities to do so in the non-conference slate. If schools like UCONN, UCF, and Rutgers can all pull off an upset or two over BCS opponents people will take notice. If the can't well…. guess what this league is who we thought they were. That said, what's best for the conference may be to have the final Keg of Nails battle be for the conference title as well - Louisville vs. Cincy is where it's at. Champ: Louisville MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Coach of the Year: Kyle Flood, Rutgers Dave Singleton’s Take: A hodgepodge arrangement of teams for one year is the outcome of the 2010-2013 realignment wars. The American will look different in 2014 because two current conference members are leaving. This year is a total crapshoot below Louisville, with the inside track probably going to Cincinnati. Keep an eye on South Florida, though, under new head coach Willie Taggart. UCF is also a threat and usually plays with a chip on their shoulder. Champ: Louisville MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Coach of the Year: Willie Taggart, South Florida Kevin McGuire’s Take: The American may be one of the most interesting conferences in the nation this season. Louisville enters with all of the hype but let;s not forget they actually tied for the conference's championship with Cincinnati and Rutgers (and Syracuse) and advanced to the BCS due to a tiebreaker scenario. It is easy for us all to be enamored with the Sugar Bowl victory but let's not pretend the Cardinals ran away with the Big East title last season. I woudl also pay attention to the two Florida schools, with Central Florida coming off a Conference USA Championship Game appearance and South Florida being taken over by one of the hottest upcoming names in coach. The American has plenty of reasons to pay attention to it in 2013, and I can't wait to see it. Champ: Louisville MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Aaron Torres’ Take: Ahh, the “American,” home of my beloved UConn Huskies, and… wait, who is in this conference again? Ok, I’m cracking bad jokes like everyone else, but the truth is this conference won’t be as bad as everyone expects in 2013. To further that point, I’m actually going to go out on a limb and say that while I expect Louisville to win the conference, I don’t think they’ll go undefeated. As much as I love the Cardinals’ (and remember, I picked them to beat Florida prior to the Sugar Bowl), they have plenty of holes along the offensive line, in the running game and (to a smaller degree) on defense  where I do believe someone will jump up and knock them off. The best candidate to me seems to be Central Florida, a club which returns a surprising amount of talent off of last year’s nine-win club. Champ: Louisville MVP: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville Coach of the Year: George O’Leary, Central Florida For all their conference preview content, follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.  
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