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April 20, 2010

The Big East Will End With a Whimper

Filed under: Big East,Conference — Chas @ 10:44 am

Let’s face it. This topic is going to dominate college sports for a while.

I have been predicting the Big East’s demise for years. It has lasted longer than I expected (and far exceeded my dire predictions of irrelevance), but it is coming.

Jake Crouthamel, Syracuse’s former athletic director, articulated in a telephone interview Sunday night a dire future for the Big East. Crouthamel, who helped form the Big East as Syracuse’s athletic director from 1978 to 2005, said he did not see the conference’s surviving.

He predicted that Syracuse would be in a different conference within five years and that there would be “utter turmoil” in college sports.

“I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while,” Crouthamel said. “I don’t see a whole lot of alternatives for anyone. You only control what your conference has. You don’t control what the Big Ten or the Pac-10 or the SEC does. What do you do? I don’t know what you do.”

The best chance for the Big East to survive, he said, would be if the Big Ten, with 11 teams, adds only Notre Dame.

That just isn’t going to happen. No matter what your feelings are on ND. No matter if you feel they are being delusional, arrogant, insane. Whatever. It isn’t happening. The students, alum and all forces outside the school are so firmly against it.

The school president, athletic director and even their board could very well know that it has to happen, but that is a long-term issue. If they even tried to make the move it is more likely that they would face such opposition that they would lose their jobs and positions.

Realistically, the problems would hit ND years later. After the present people in power are dead, retired or moved on to another place. So, they have  little incentive to commit career suicide at ND for a future they won’t be a part of.

Maybe the Big East survives with football for a while. Maybe it becomes a slightly better C-USA. But if the Big East was considered the weakest of the BCS conferences before the expansion talk, this isn’t going to be an upgrade.

Now I agree with Sean at TNIAMM to the point that the Big East has done nothing to plan for what everyone knew would eventually happen — that the Big East would be raided once more. To some degree I get what he writes and somewhat agree that BE Commish Marinatto as part of that Providence mafia has been protecting the Friars and other b-ball only schools.

What I will say, is that there was no choice once the Big East stuck with the hideously unwieldly hybrid conference. That created two distinct classes of schools with very different goals and visions. At that point the die was cast and the Big East’s end was already in motion. It has merely been a little slower and different than envisioned.

It is one thing for a conference to exist with “haves” and “have-nots” in football — say a Duke and a Clemson from the ACC. But, they all share in the revenue from football and benefit. Duke may not really care about football, but they support it in the ACC. They see the benefits and actually receive them. It is why they actually had an incentive to try to improve. The same goes for Vandy in the SEC, Baylor in the Big 12, Indiana in the Big 10, and so on.

In the Big East, though, Seton Hall, Georgetown and others get nothing from Rutgers, Syracuse or Pitt improving football and getting bowl and TV money. What do they get from it?

In fact, it works against those school’s individual, competitive interests. The additional and substantial revenue stream gives the football school more money to put into all facilities and the overall athletic department budget.

Both sides (and especially the fans) have increasingly viewed the Big East conference offices as favoring the other side to the detriment of their interests. That perception only fuels the distrust.

So, the fact that the Big East now seems paralyzed, unable and unwilling to do things to move forward is a result of its present 50-50 composition and the decisions made in 2003.

So, no. The Big East can’t and won’t kick out Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall, St. John’s, et al. It can’t make Villanova make the leap to 1-A. It won’t bring back Temple and add UCF, Memphis and ECU in a proactive manner. (As opposed to the predictable reactive manner after the Big 10 comes.)





This can’t happen soon enough for me. As long as this conference is controlled by a basketball only school, the football schools will be fighting an uphill battle since the Comissioner of the league offers little support. Pitt, Syracuse and Rutgers join the Big 10 and they are replaced by UCF, Memphis & ECU? The QPA of the football schools will rival Faber’s Delta House!

This will be a big boost for football and once Jamie sees how the basketball program will have more dough as a result of the increased revenues genrated through football, he will be onboard.

When this talk all started, I hated the idea, now I would hate not to be included in the expansion!

Comment by Fear The Mustache 04.20.10 @ 11:24 am

I was flipping between Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio and Rivals Radio on Sirus this morning and Big 10 expansion was the topic on both. Both spoke as if the expansion was going to happen sooner rather than later. Both had the Big 10 expanding by more than one team (Rivals was leaning towards 16 teams). Both channels had Pitt as a strong candidate to be in. The truth is, short of getting ND, PSU, BC, and Maryland to join the BE, there is not a single thing the BE could do to stop this expansion train. I’m not sure that JoePA’s famous Eastern Sports Conference would not also have been swallowed up in the coming round of expansions. Once the Big 10 goes past 12 teams, the SEC, Big 12, ACC and PAC 10 will not be far behind. Yes, the Big East will be gone, but so will every other BCS conference as we now know them (Big 16 anyone?). I do not have near the sense of dread I had when the ACC raided the BE. In the long run, Pitt will be better off because they will end up in a superconference that will end this nonsense for a long, long time.

Comment by HbgFrank 04.20.10 @ 12:39 pm

One other thing, if any Conference should get proactive about expanding, its the ACC. If they want to go to 14 teams, they should go after RU and UCONN and do it now. If they want 16 teams, they should go after Pitt, Syracuse, RU, and UCONN…take that Big 10!

Comment by HbgFrank 04.20.10 @ 12:42 pm

That would be nice for me whatever the reason I don’t want to see Pitt in the Big Ten. To me it’s boring football and basketball. Would love to be in the ACC with Syracuse, RU and UCONN. Living in the middle of Big Ten Country couldn’t change me still EAST MAN. ACC please do something !

Comment by Detroit-Panther 04.20.10 @ 1:28 pm

If all goes as planned I foresee a goofy and potentially pathetic 10/11 BE season for both players and fans.

> Schools potentially in the Big 10: Pitt, RU, Syracuse

> Schools potentially scurrying for a new conference: UCONN, WVU, SFU, L’ville, Cincy

> School in NeverNeverland: ND

> Schools in St. NeverNeverland: Seton Hall, G’town, etc.

And The Championship game of the BE hoops tourney will feature Judy Collins singing:

link to youtube.com

Comment by steve 04.20.10 @ 3:02 pm

Chas,

Spot on analysis. The demise of the BE was set in place the very day it was created. It is and always was a basketball conference.

Everything else it did was a reactionary. There was never a plan in place, just damage control.

The sad thing is, I believe with some vision and planning even after the ACC raid there was a chance to not only survive but thrive as well.

When I reminisce about the BE, I will miss it for the basketball. It never had the feel of a football conference–in the end the epitaph for the BE:

Here lies the Big East–a mighty basketball conference

that played some football as well

May it rest in peace

:(

DaveD

Comment by DaveD 04.20.10 @ 3:59 pm

Ideal situation includes the big ten adding Pitt, cuse, uconn, nd, and ru. Big north here we come, I hope

Comment by Tony Cancilla 04.20.10 @ 4:03 pm

Big 16 east: pitt, psu, uconn, ru, cuse, nd, purdue, iu. West: osu, msu, um, ill, nw, minn, wisc, iowa. I know it’s not perfect geographic balance but I think it works. Not sure how to have skeds and champ game but I guess just play just ur division then have a champ game or final 4. With all this being said, it most likely won’t happen

Comment by Tony Cancilla 04.20.10 @ 4:14 pm

Final 4 with top 2 from each division at a neutral site would be awesome and give the conf relevance late in the year and would put the conf ahead of others

Comment by Tony Cancilla 04.20.10 @ 4:17 pm

If the Big East is being raided, then Pitt has to go. In fact, Pitt has to make sure that they are invited. Not leaving or being invited would be a disaster if 2 or 3 Big East teams leave and Pitt isn’t 1 of them. It would hurt enrollment and applications to the university in general. Have to leave unless the Big East can do something pro-active. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it is happening.

Comment by Omar 04.20.10 @ 5:23 pm

At one time the BE WAS a viable football conference.

VT, BC, Miami…

Comment by steve 04.20.10 @ 5:26 pm

Uconn is not a member of The American Association of Universities (leading research institutions in N. America) and can not be considered for The Big 11+ unless this requirement is waived.
This morning Colin Cowherd (ESPN) was carrying on about how strong the rumors are about The Big 11+ adding only one team, UConn.
He was praising UConn because it is in the NE and would help increase the reach of The Big 11+’s potential TV audience. I can see UConn in the ACC
to add some balance to BC’s stand alone position as the only school north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
PITT, Rutgers and Syracuse to The Big 11+ and WVU to the SEC. Pitt can still schedule WVU as an out of conference game prior to the Big 11+ season!!

Comment by Isnore 04.20.10 @ 5:30 pm

Oh ok thanks Isnore. For some reason I thought someone told me they were in the AAU. I knew that’s why WVU wasn’t part of the discussion. That makes sense then.

Comment by Tony Cancilla 04.20.10 @ 5:48 pm

I don’t disagree with anything posted here. It is just that I have read so many articles with so many scenarios that for about a month now, I have just refused to rack my brains about it. I’ve been in the whatever happens, happens mode for a while now.

Comment by wbb 04.20.10 @ 5:58 pm

Yeah understood wbb there’s just not a whole lot to talk about. I’m anxious to see what happens. I hope Pitt doesn’t get left out

Comment by Tony Cancilla 04.20.10 @ 9:11 pm

I’m with wbb and Tony on the wait-and-see mode, but I’m certain Pitt will land on its feet in the Big 10, ACC, or somewhere else. We’re too good academically, especially the research $$$, and our sports programs are competitive AND CLEAN!

Comment by ME2001 04.20.10 @ 10:25 pm

Sports programs are clean…I guess that rules out the SEC…

Comment by Pantherman13 04.20.10 @ 10:44 pm

I don’t see Notre Dame listed under the AAU website. Maybe they are maintaining their independent status there as well.

Comment by ChetMasterson 04.20.10 @ 11:12 pm

in this high-stakes game of musical chairs, i don’t believe pitt will be left standing when the music stops. i wouldn’t be surprised if the acc doesn’t reach out to pitt, rutgers, uconn, and syracuse in a pre-emptive strike to try to lock up the eastern seaboard for what seems like an inevitable movement to 4 or 5 “superconferences” of 16 teams each. competitively speaking, i think it would be better for pitt in the long run to fight against those east coast programs than the mega schools of the midwest.

Comment by ECH 04.21.10 @ 8:28 am

i agree, i’d rather see pitt in the acc. in the big 10, pitt is probably most similar to minnesota. it doesn’t look good for us if we get into the big 10. i think pitt would fare better in the acc from a football perspective. plus, the acc is better at hoops and football so it would up both programs.

Comment by johnnyrocket 04.21.10 @ 8:50 am

I don’t really think Pitt would struggle in the Big 10 in football. Heck, more so than Minnesota I think Pitt is most similar to Iowa. Iowa is a team that has faired pretty well in the Big10 and should again this year. Minnesota is a worse program than Pitt at this point.

Comment by PITTapotamus 04.21.10 @ 9:21 am

The fact is that there is not a damn thing the Big East can do to stop other conferences from poaching its members. Adding Memphis, UCF and Villanova sure ain’t gonna do it. Who in their right mind would turn down a Big 10 invite because, gosh, we’ve got Memphis and UCF in the fold now? No one.

There’s nothing the BE can do except sit tight and hope that the Big 10 only takes one team.

Comment by maguro 04.21.10 @ 11:00 am

i agree. the big east is dead as we know it. the footall playing members that aren’t gobbled up by the big10/acc/sec(wvu, usf?) will probably still maintain a basketball relationship. if i am louisville and cincinnati i am scared to death right now.

the basketball only schools get what they want…a basketball only conference.

Comment by ECH 04.21.10 @ 11:15 am

“I think Pitt is most similar to Iowa”

As mcuh as I like the sability and money associated with joinging the Big 10, however I don’t like being lumped in with Iowa.

The Big 10 is really a tierd conference. UM and OSU are 1st class, PSU Iowa, Wisconsin and MSU make up the 2nd class, so on…

The point is, at best we’ll be 2nd tier, along with PSU and Iowa. With our relatively low attendence and overall perception we could be on the 3rd level.

In contrast, I see no one team that rules the ACC. FSU has in the past, but they are a little down. Pitt is on par with VPI, Miami, UNC, etc.

So if I had my choice, I think being in the ACC might be a better fit. That said, if the Big 10 comes calling we CAN NOT turn them down.

Comment by ME2001 04.21.10 @ 4:05 pm

[...] Big East would cease to exist if the Big 10 picks up two teams from the Big East. That sentiment is hardly new.  Survival is a long shot to happen, primarily because Jim Delany is certifiably insane. The [...]


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