Obviously there has been plenty written, and by Friday much of it is stale. I’m just trying to catch-up. On many things. I’ve had about 7 hours of sleep over the last couple of days and I’m just trying to make it through today and tonight.
One other note, about my media day. I was stuck in the Philly airport for a good chunk of Wednesday evening waiting for a connecting flight to get me home. My WVU counterpart ended up seated next to Coach Dixon. The universe has quite a sense of humor.
Now one of the big side shows out of Big East Media Day was Rick Pitino — yet again — lashing out at Pitt and Syracuse by choosing the most uncomfortable analogy he could possibly think of using:
“My problem is not them leaving,” he said. “My problem is you did it in 48 hours. Don’t run away with a girl after one date when you’ve been dating someone else for three or four years. You’ve been dating this woman for 30 years, show a little respect.”
That quote didn’t get out the minute he said it — which would seem surprising. But once it was out there, man. My twitter feed exploded with it around 2 or 3 that afternoon. I remember seeing some comment from a media guy who was there when Pitino said it. He said, Pitino was on a roll at the time, and no one really batted an eye at it as being other than a good one-liner — at least until they went back to put things together for the story. Then, well, what else can you say.
Honestly, the bigger piece of his hypocrisy was his rant about the money.
On university priorities and the money grab: “Boston College has one of the premier ADs in the country, in my opinion. I worked with the man at Kentucky. So you can get $2 million more by joining the ACC? Boston College, which probably has an endowment close to a $1 billion, is going to worry about $ 2 million more? How about they only had one championship since joining the ACC in 2005. To me, I would rather win 30-40 championships and be very successful then have $2 million in my pocket. I learned that a long time ago with the Boston Celtics. I had a lot of money in my pocket, but I wasn’t happy.”
This is a coach making somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million dollars to just coach college basketball at Louisville. He took the big money, failed with Boston. Paid to leave on top of it. Got huge money to go to Louisville — and keeps taking those raises — but how can other entities be so greedy?
Pitino has been insanely passionate to the point of delusional about how he hates to see the Big East break-up. The obvious storyline has been because he is from NY and has a long history with the Big East. He was a Boeheim assistant. A head coach at Providence. Yet, Louisville for at least in the future seems safe. Eventually they will end up in the Big 12. But that is the problem. Rush the Court posted the thing I’ve been thinking, only with, you know, facts and stuff. Pitino doesn’t want to go to the Big 12 when his recruiting ties and base is in the East.
When Louisville leaves the Big East for the Big 12, his recruiting pitch to NYC prospects of playing against all the great northeastern programs (Syracuse, Pitt, Connecticut, Villanova, Georgetown, etc.) and enjoying at least one trip per season back home to play in the mecca, Madison Square Garden, will have to change substantially. Instead of selling those players on moving south to a basketball-crazy state with the other fringe benefits in mind, he must now convince them that playing Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma (places they’ve likely never visited nor given much thought to) is just as interesting.
When it still seemed that the Big 10 might call on Pitt, Coach Dixon made no secret of his distaste for that possibility. Like Pitino (only less deeply entrenched), Dixon has his recruiting connections almost entirely on the East Coast.
So this does make a lot more sense of Pitino being so excised about the situation. Doesn’t change the fact that he is still a douche.
Now for something uncomfortable. Agreeing with Bob Huggins.
“I think the football guys figured it out when they created the BCS. They generate a lot of money because of that,” he says. “The truth of the matter is we generate more money, it just doesn’t come back to us.”
TV money for regular season college football is huge and a big driver. Don’t, however, shortchange the money that comes to the conferences within the BCS.
The NCAA Tournament gets serious cash. It, however, goes to the NCAA which takes a cut and distributes it much more widely. The BCS system — while flawed and probably likely to take in less cash than a playoff system — controls the money more directly for the conferences and teams. A smaller pie to have to divide and share.
As noted plenty of times, when the questions went to the coaches, it was all about expansiopocolypse. Coach Dixon even had to get his dad to relax about the state of the Big East.
“Even my dad was very upset for a couple of days when I talked to him about this,” said Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, whose father is from the Bronx. “My roots are in the East, so I do know how important the Big East is to a lot of people, especially people who grew up in the East. I understand that. But I’ve settled him down and hopefully I can settle down a few other people. But he’s reflective of a lot of people’s opinions.”
Pitt and Syracuse must pay a $5 million exit fee (now raised to $10 million for any other schools wanting out), and could be forced to remain as Big East members for the next 27 months. As the Big East explores expansion in an effort to rebuild its football conference, the Pitt and Syracuse move could happen sooner.
“We understand the situation we’re in,” Dixon said. “The Big East is trying to add teams. When they get the teams, when they feel comfortable, when it’s in the best interest of the Big East for us to move, that’s when we’ll move … if that’s 27 months, if that’s 12 months, if that’s five months. In no way are we wishing ill will on the Big East. We are prepared to move when the Big East feels it’s the right time. That’s the best way to handle it.”
I continue to go on record as saying, don’t get worked up over the timeframe for Pitt and Syracuse to get out of the Big East. I don’t expect Pitt and Cuse to be playing in the Big East in 2013, but I won’t be surprised if they have to stay for 2012. The 27 month stuff is for negotiations, and even Marinatto knows enough not to tip his hand.
The Big East cannot even consider letting Pitt and Cuse go until they have at least 8 football members playing in a season. Less than 8 members would knock them from BCS AQ status.Given that actual invites haven’t even been issued yet, I find it unlikely that at least two teams that accept will be able to make the move from their old conference to the Big East by next fall. Even an independent like Navy would have difficulty considering the agreements to play football games it has executed.
And if Missouri makes a move to the SEC today or at some point in the next month, then it is likely that WVU and/or Louisville will be in the same boat.
Here’s an actual Media Day story on Pitt — not moving to the ACC stuff — just Pitt basketball.
Up front, senior Nasir Robinson returns as a starter – but he will miss three more weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Juniors Talib Zanna and Dante Taylor are expected to take a major step forward this season.
With so many players fighting for spots, practices have been filled with energy and hustle.
“There’s a lot of intensity, like I’ve never experienced before,” Rivers said. “It’s wide open. There are a lot of good players. It’s going to depend on who’s consistent, who listens and who works hard.
“We’re a matchup nightmare. You never know who you’re going to have to play against.”
The key for Pittsburgh could be the arrival of Birch. Originally a class of 2012 recruit, Birch decided to reclassify to 2011 last November and play at Pittsburgh this fall. The 6-foot-9 Canadian was one of the best big men in the high school ranks last season, and will look to make an immediate impact.
“He has a great motor, runs the court really well,” Gibbs said, also mentioning fellow freshman Malcolm Gilbert as an impact player. “We just have to see if he lives up to the hype.”
Pittsburgh will be versatile, deep, talented and hungry this season – a difficult combination for most opponents.
Of course, the Panthers will also be as physical and tough as ever.
“We’re going to play Pitt basketball,” Robinson said.
Nas was at Media Day without any crutches. At this point, I’m betting the only way he misses any games to start the season is if Coach Dixon just decides to let him rest a little longer.
The best quote from Media Day on the future of the Big East — if a little doom and gloomy.
It’ll affect recruiting, too. Seton Hall guard Jordan Theodore said he picked the Big East because “I felt like if I went somewhere else I was going to miss out — this is the best league, with the best teams and the best exposure.”
Now, when asked what he would tell high school players facing the same decision, he said, “I might tell them to go to the ACC.”