Such is life in a league with no dominant teams, even if players such as Baltimore Ravens tailback Ray Rice (Rutgers) or New England Patriots rookie defensive end Chandler Jones (Syracuse) quickly become household names as pros.
"This conference is really underrated, honestly," Smith said. "There are a lot of really good players that come out of the Big East. You don't have to look far to find great talent.
"It's kind of offensive when you see somebody just bashing the conference that you're in. Last year, when West Virginia was in the conference, they came and blew out Clemson (70-33 in the Orange Bowl), and then they moved to another conference and have become a top-10 team — and that's the team we beat last year. I think it's the perception nationally. I don't think that's how it should be."
Aresco already knows he won't have three unbeaten teams at season's end, and he's OK with that.
"It's always been a conference that has been able to reinvent itself and get even stronger," Aresco said. "We're doing it now. It's not surprising to me that we've got teams that are in the Top 25. It's nice to have undefeated teams, but they've got to play each other."
Not yet. Which means Aresco still has three good bargaining chips on his side as the league continues negotiations on a new television contract.
"It's great timing," Aresco said. "It sends the signal that I've talked about. We are a strong football conference, we're a valuable football conference, we're going to be valuable to our media partners. Not only is it great timing, but it foreshadows the future."
The drawback to the start, though, has been everyone else. If you take out the three ranked teams, no other league member is over .500. But at least, there are the Cardinals, Scarlet Knights and Bearcats to brag about.
"We really didn't know what was going to happen this year," Smith said. "Cincinnati had questions, Rutgers had some questions, and with us there were some questions of youth. But to have three undefeated teams, it's good to see that competitiveness.
"And I like it."
Aresco does, too.
AP Sports Writers Gary Graves in Louisville, Ky., and Hank Kurz in Richmond, Va. contributed to this report.