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May 11, 2010

So, as we all await what happens with the Big Ten and their expansion plan, it seemed a perfect time to have a little chat with still a couple fellow Big East blogging compatriots and either future mates in the Big Something or rivals to get there. Sean of Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (Syracuse) and Jon of On the Banks (Rutgers) joined me for a roundtable bit about things relating to the Big Ten and Big East.

Actually the questions were asked prior to the past day’s spurt of rumorism, so it may already be moot. Who can say anymore.

Both have their own questions and the roundtable will be moving to On the Banks (OTB) for Wednesday and then finish up at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (TNIAAM) on Thursday. By then, of course, the Big East could well be disbanded. the Big 12 swallowed by the Big Something, the Pac-Whatever and SEC Magnum edition.

1. Assuming your school is a definite invite to the Big 10, how many more invites do you want to see issued? Do you just want it to be 12? 14? The Big American Penis of conferences with 16? Why?

TNIAMM: If Syracuse gets an invite, I don’t want to be the only a-hole to leave the party. I want Pitt, Rutgers and maybe even UConn coming with us. It’s a lot easier walking into a new school on the first day if you know some other newbies going in. Plus, it keeps some tiny piece of the old rivalries intact so we can at least have that.

If we just went by ourselves, which I don’t really think would ever happened, we’d be painted as the jerks who jumped ship. But if we leave as part of a big group, then its harder to argue with the reasoning ($$$). I think 14 is probably “enough” but I feel like if they’re going to expand they’re going 16. It’s good business.

OTB: Any expansion would largely be driven by finances to begin with. If Rutgers gets the call, then my preference is for the Big Ten to determine which number maximizes the per-school payout. Everything involved with expansion is so divorced from any idea of fairness, that I am trying to drop any preconceived notions on that front. Jim Delany and the Big Ten can do what they want, as long as the Rutgers athletic department gets a gaudy paycheck and the chance to put its fiscal house in order.

PB: If this is going to happen. Make it the big swinging dick. No more messing around. Let’s outsize this thing and put an end to all claims of tradition and decorum. It’s about money, so let’s be more than up front with it. Whip it out and dangle it for all to admire and fear.

There is also the fact that going large means bringing along some familiar faces so it isn’t like some bad flashback to being the only new kid in the class in high school.

2. Other than the money (and the conference stability greed brings with it), is there really any other reason you want your school to go to the Big 10?

OTB: The Big East’s bowl bids remain subpar. The problem is that perception hasn’t caught up to the reality that it’s not a bad football conference at all, and never has been in the years since the ACC raid. The idea of an Eastern Conference is great, but not when the Big East’s basketball-only schools are holding the football schools hostage. Not when Providence College, which doesn’t do anything for the league in terms of media markets, has a strangehold on the commissioner’s office.

TNIAMM: No. I don’t want to go to the Big Ten in the first place but I realize that it’s probably the “right thing to do” if we get offered. The Big East just hasn’t done enough to warrant staying and their efforts over the last month are too-little-too-late.

I’d much rather stay in the Big East where we have historical rivals, rivals that make sense geographically and know exactly what we’re getting. If we jump to the Big Ten, the SU football reclamation project just got 10x harder than SU basketball just traded Villanova and Georgetown for Minnesota and Northwestern.

But, like I said, if that’s the option on the table you have to take it. For better or worse. And the millions of dollars we get from the Big Ten Network will certainly help us sleep at night.

PB: Well, outside of Pitt and Penn State playing each other, I really can’t think of one.

I like the Big East — in basketball. As unwieldly as the 16-team basketball conference has been, and the chances of badly balanced schedules, it has been a lot more fun to go through that gauntlet every year for the fans. A bit exhausting and a challenge. But fun.

Football is the problem of course. The bowl line-up. The lack of a 9th member.

3. A cursory look shows little reaction in the Big East basketball only blogosphere (this is all I found at this point). Do you think they get how much closer they get to A-10 plus status than power conference? That their next TV deal may be a lot more like C-USA than ACC, if there is the upheaval expected?

TNIAMM: Let’s say SU, Pitt and Rutgers leave and that’s it. Then at least the basketball conference still has some notable name teams like West Virginia, UConn, G’town, Nova and Louisville.

The real trouble is if the ACC goes for a second wave and grabs WVU, Louisville and maybe UConn…then what are you left with? A conference with 2-3 great basketball programs, a collection over A-10 level programs and some random outliers like DePaul and USF.

If The Great Purge happens, I would imagine the remaining schools just reform themselves into that Catholic Basketball League they keep talking about. Between Georgetown, Providence, Villanova, St.John’s and Seton Hall you’ve got a decent base to work with. They’ll still be better than the A-10 but the Big Christ will never be what the Big East once was.

OTB: Why would the basketball schools be in trouble? That could happen under one of those scenarios you always see the Villanova/Georgetown/St. John’s fans pushing where Providence, Seton Hall, DePaul, and Marquettte are kicked out of the league, which in turn would add another FB school or two. If it’s the Catholic schools, and they raid Xavier and a few other good A-10 schools, what’s necessarily the problem with that setup? It won’t be as good as the present Big East setup, but that’s probably too unwieldy to work in the long run anyway.

Now, all of that goes out the window if we end up with four or five superconferences, who in turn secede from the NCAA.

PB: I don’t think most of them do. Since the Big East was formed, the conference has been a staple on ESPN. In case they haven’t noticed, the place is getting crowded in January and February. I remember when C-USA and A-10 games got some regular airtime on ESPN, now you might catch them occasionally on CBS College Sports if you are lucky.

When the Big East was raided by the ACC, there was a push by some of the basketball only schools to go back to that. Even though, their profile in basketball was even lower than it is now (Georgetown was still coming out of Esherick time, as was Villanova and the Lappas era, St. John’s was a mess, and Seton Hall and Providence were simply respectable).  I don’t think they get how tied up the TV contracts are with both football and basketball.

The SEC and Big Something have big contracts with ESPN to air basketball games on multiple days. The Big 12 and ACC have smaller deals but plenty of exposure. The Pac-10 TV contract is coming up, and all indications are they will work to get more exposure on ESPN. That means it gets a lot more crowded. The priority will go to conferences that have football to leverage more exposure for basketball.

Yes a school like Georgetown or Villanova with their national prominence right now may keep a high profile on TV like Memphis or Xavier. It’s the other schools that will struggle to get national TV time. How often did you see UTEP or Richmond make appearances on TV? Even Temple has struggled to get much national traction after having to rebuild from the end of the Chaney era.

Think about schools like Providence, DePaul or Seton Hall. They struggle to get on the ESPN networks — even ESPNU — more than a couple times during conference play. That won’t improve unless they make dramatic improvements, and it becomes a more difficult job when there is less exposure and harder to recruit.

Great discussion.

Comment by Lee in Altoona 05.11.10 @ 9:00 am

Awesome way to kill the first 15 minutes of my Tuesday morning. Thanks guys.

Comment by Bryan 05.11.10 @ 9:10 am

This topic has become absolutely ridiculous, my brother’s best friend’s uncle graduated with a guy who lived next to the janitor from the Big 10’s corporate offices, who happened to hear…..fill in the blank….this is much ado about nothing!

What the Big East needs to do is focus on adding a ninth member for Football and forget about all of this worthless expansion talk.

Comment by Marco 05.11.10 @ 12:11 pm


I agree, but I really think the ball is in motion and very soon the dominos will fall in one major conference and we will see the ripple effects across the entire nation.

There is a lot of market share and money on the table, college athletics (football and basketball) as we all know generates revenue and translates to big bucks for all!

Comment by The Oakland Jew 05.11.10 @ 1:13 pm

IMHO, when all is said and done, Pitt will be in a major BCS conference in all sports…If the Big 10 goes to 16 teams, I wonder how many will get on here and rant and rave about their “bloated” 16 team BB conference…I still see comments here to that effect about BE BB. I can’t help but wonder if those same people accept the fact that the 16 team BE BB Conference has been a huge success on every level (TV, excitement, matchups, attendance, etc)…To the point where the Big 10 has set a goal to do the same thing in FB and BB.

Comment by HbgFrank 05.11.10 @ 1:36 pm

HbgFrank – that’s a really good point. the BE might be a “victim of it’s own success.”

i’ve been wanting to use that cliche for a few years now. it’s good to get it out finally.

Comment by johnnyrocket 05.11.10 @ 1:45 pm

j-rocket, FWIW, I’ve been waiting for decades to use the term ‘labor of love’ but have yet to find the occasion

Comment by wbb 05.11.10 @ 2:28 pm

wbb – use it anytime you are talking about a Mother giving birth to a child.

Comment by Reed 05.12.10 @ 4:47 am

Reed, I meant using the phrase in refernce to my own experience but agree giving birth is the ultimate ‘labor of love.’

Comment by wbb 05.12.10 @ 7:18 am

^^^ Yes and thank God we guys don’t have to do it!

Comment by Reed 05.13.10 @ 6:34 am

[…] just how much closer to A-10 than ACC they would become without the football side. I mentioned this last week in the roundtable. Without the football side to improve/leverage the TV contract and keep the conference in the […]

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