Big East Commissioner John Marinatto finally staggered out of his darkened office. A paperweight was embedded in his computer, and empty bottles of wine lay strewn about the office. He spoke to the New York Times about some things.
Marinatto said in a telephone interview that he planned to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to their 27-month contractual exit obligations, meaning that they would not be able to leave the Big East until June 2014.
This was expected. There was no way the Big East was just going to tell Pitt and Syracuse to just go on their merry way. No hard feelings. Simply put, this was the opening of negotiations for Pitt and Syracuse to leave the Big East. You don’t concede your biggest piece of leverage in negotiations at the start. Not even John Marinatto and the Big East do that.
Pitt and Syracuse know they are going to have pay more than simply $5 million to walk away. At a minimum they will probably have to forfeit their share of TV money for this year as well. Other valuable items up for negotiation will include their percentage of money the conference receives for NCAA Tournament appearances — actually quite lucrative after this past year’s run by UConn and all the teams that made it to the Tourney. As well as their cut from the BCS and bowl games.
One other reason not to sweat the Big East threat, is that there might not be a Big East by next year. The Big East football schools and Big 12 leftovers are talking merger — more likely under the rubric of the Big 12. This makes sense since they have a new TV deal — that may be renegotiated but better than the Big East’s and they have the Fiesta Bowl affiliation along with better bowl affiliations.
But back to Marinatto who continues to put on the brave face of delusion.
“We have a track record of coming out stronger than we did before,” Marinatto said, referring the A.C.C.’s raid of three Big East teams in 2003. “We may even hold the opening round of our basketball tournament in Greensboro,” a frequent site of the A.C.C. tournament, he said in jest.
With the departure of Syracuse and Pitt, the Big East is down to 7 teams in football and 15 in basketball, including Texas Christian, which arrives next year.
Of course if the merger with the Big 12 falls apart, TCU might be better served going back to the Mountain West — which would welcome them back since it would probably get them that AQ bid.
Marinatto also deflected blame from himself for the bad state of the Big East. Syracuse bloggers, dispute his notion.
What he’s never understood is that perception is reality, and in today’s wild west, no holds barred conference landscape, that’s never been more true. Right now conferences will beg, borrow and steal to protect their futures and line their pockets and John Marinatto is the last guy you want protecting your back. I wouldn’t leave John Swofford alone in a room with my wife for two seconds, but I’d let her go snorkeling in Aruba with Big John.
If he had done anything at all to try and correct the perception that he was weak, he might have had a chance. If he hadn’t found out his conference was getting raided from a member of the media, he might have had a chance. Love him or hate him, Tranghese was respected by others through the sheer force of his personality. If Marinatto had projected one-tenth the amount of strength of his predecessor, things might be different.
Ah, Tranghese. Fresh off his successful consulting gig with Memphis. How’d that work to get Memphis into
the Big East a BCS conference go?
Mike Tranghese was in demand with the Big East about to go boom. He did TV with ESPN. Radio with a NYC blowhard. Tranghese, proceeded to crap on everyone. He doesn’t believe Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Jamie Dixon will ever coach in the ACC. He then proceeded to rip Big East football as a whole.
“The bottom line is that the Big East’s problem has always been that they’re just not good enough in football. That made them vulnerable, even though the league became, without question, the best basketball league in the country.
“But all of this expansion has to do with football and money.”
And football has been the one thing that Tranghese has never handled well. On the Banks (Rutgers) has much more of the outrage than I can muster towards Tranghese. Then again, for some reason he put himself through actually listening to the interview.
BECAUSE YOU INVITED THE 2003 ACC RAID BY TRYING TO DESTROY BIG EAST FOOTBALL IN 1998, YOU CORRUPT, LYING BUFFOON! GAVITT EXPLICITLY FORMED THE LEAGUE TO STRANGLE JOE PATERNO’S ALL SPORTS CONFERENCE IN ITS CRIB! Football runs the roost because football produces more revenue than basketball, which is clear to anyone who doesn’t think that Led Zeppelin is at the cutting edge of rock music. How wonderful is it that we’ll soon be able to recall the two Mikes’ dream conference in the past tense?
The most telling thing from the interview was Tranghese being asked if he would help the Big East right now in its time of need.
Tranghese: Well my, my, the one person (sic) I’m gonna help is Providence College…
In other words, what he and the Big East offices have been doing for 30 plus years.