December 14, 2012

Overall, I take no joy in seeing the Big East reach the long, inevitable, break that has been predicted for years. I thought it would happen by 2010, so I don’t claim any special foresight (hell, I never expected the expansiopocolypse to go further than 12 teams in each major conference).

The Big East was founded on 3 basic principles: self-preservation, money and basketball. Today you can still argue that the BE is maintaining the principles of self-preservation and money. Basketball is just along for the ride.

I wrote that eight years ago. The self-preservation was against the growing power of football schools, and the diminishing power of basketball-only schools. The Big East basketball schools finally snapped. They were sick of basketball being along for the ride. They wanted their power back. Even if their fiefdom is significantly smaller. Even if they make less money. They wanted to feel like they were in control once more. (I thought about using the Milton quote from Satan of “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven” until I realized that, at best the Big East was more like Purgatory.)

The thing to realize, is that like most of expansiopocolypse, there is going to be a lag time.

According to the source, there is a lot of interpretation regarding exit fees, the waiting period, and on who gets the “Big East” name and Madison Square Garden for a conference basketball tournament.

Because the seven schools are leaving as a group, they can use a league clause that eliminates the exit fee for a collective departure, a source told ESPN. However, the schools would have to honor the league’s requirement to provide 27 months notice.

The seven schools could negotiate an earlier exit, but the Big East would undoubtedly require some sort of financial compensation.

As if the seven basketball schools have extra money to toss around.

So as bittersweetly awesome (not to mention the storylines) as it may have been for the Big East Tournament to truly be the final go round at Madison Square Garden, they will probably limp through at least one more.

There are going to be a lot. I mean a lot of lawsuits before this is over. If I’m the Big East I stick all the exit fees and payments from the NCAA Tournament in an escrow account now. It’s not like anyone is going to be able to touch them for a while.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Pitt and Syracuse (Along with Rutgers and Louisville. Okay, another Rutgers lawsuit.) eventually file new suits over the exit fees they have already paid and are still scheduled to pay. Messy and dragged out.

So let’s look at some of the pixels spilled over this. Jeff Jacobs at the Hartford Courant vents his spleen. Enjoyable read overall. His ranting about the missed opportunities of the football side of the Big East deserves more background.

This day was coming for a long time. Everybody knew it. Everybody smelled it. Since the Big East presidents made the monumentally stupid decision to turn down a request from Penn State to join the Big East in 1989, the Naismith-centric schools made it clear where they stood. Guess who led the fight against Penn State? Georgetown. St. John’s. Villanova.

Penn State didn’t ask to join in 1989. They made their last bid in 1984.

They gave in to allow football in 1991 to save the conference from splitting, yet there were the hoopsters again in 1994. It took a UConn-brokered compromise to get Rutgers and West Virginia, then football schools, in as full members. The vote was 7-3. Against it? Georgetown. Seton Hall. Providence. At that point the football schools had just signed a five-year, $65 million contract with CBS and were considering leaving.

Somewhere along the line those football schools should have said, we have the money, we have the power. Instead, they kept on giving in to a fragmented, antiquated Austo-Hungarian Empire of a sports league. They should have banded together and left. They should have gotten a commissioner who was fighting entirely for them. They didn’t.

On July 9, 2003 in Newark the six remaining football schools went so far as to vote unanimously to accept a recommendation from their athletic directors that an eight- or nine-school all-sports conference be established. The minutes of that meeting show the following was drafted: “We as a group genuinely believe that the breakup of the Big East Conference is inevitable and probably the best overall scenario for all parties concerned.” Bingo. They even talked about approaching Penn State again. Miami and Virginia Tech were gone to the ACC. Boston College was still in the room and Father Leahy later expressed consternation that he found out within a few weeks other presidents were no longer committed to the plan. BC left. In came five schools, including DePaul and Marquette who tip the balance of power in 2012.

First of all, BC was gone no matter what. Even if the Big East did split, BC would have been out the door to the ACC no matter what.

As to why they didn’t split. That’s an easy answer: Mike Tranghese.

First, and foremost, Mike Tranghese, the BE Commissioner and in 2003, the guy who had just come off a stint as the mouthpiece for defending the BCS said he wouldn’t serve as commissioner of either part of a split Big East.

This boxed in the football-playing BE teams. They needed Tranghese and his personal ties to other BCS conference commissioners to help keep them in the BCS with an automatic bid. The other conferences could boot the BE easily enough if they hadn’t dealt with the commissioner, but not if he was one of them. A guy who helped defend their little system.

Tranghese was making one last play to protect his school (Providence) and the basketball only programs. The basketball schools had been in a down period, as the balance of basketball power had clearly shifted away from the likes of Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova and Georgetown in the Big East. The power was with UConn, Syracuse, Pitt and even BC. At best, the basketball only schools didn’t look much stronger than the Atlantic 10. The basketball schools needed to keep their association with the stronger members of the Big East.

So the only way to keep Tranghese and his connections was to remain in the BE with basketball only schools. At least for the short term. The b-ball schools weren’t going to let themselves be put in an overwhelming minority position, since it was clear that sooner or later the BE football teams would split off. That is why, rather than look to replace Miami, VT and BC with Louisville, Cinci and USF; you had the Big East add 2 basketball only schools as well.

The BCS agreements were not yet formalized to the point where they had the standards set to allow the Big East to maintain an automatic BCS bid

I will say, if the Big East basketball schools thought there would be more of the Dana O’Neil soft treatment of their long-suffering status, they will find few takers. Instead, there’s reality.

Many have suggested these basketball schools have been mistreated for years as the league twisted itself in various directions to invent and then support and then attempt to maintain football competition within the league.

The truth is that ever since football was introduced in the Big East, the basketball-firsters have benefited from the relative largesse it provided. They had money from television and political power within the NCAA structure they would not have possessed if not connected to high-level football.

In the last TV contract the Big East Basketball schools got over $1.5 million/year per team. The A-10’s newest deal delivers $350,000. That the Big East basketball schools believe that they and some mix that includes Butler, Xavier, and whoever else (St. Louis? Creighton? Dayton?…)  to put them at either 10 or 12 would closer to the Big East number rather than the A-10 number is laughable. Between small alumni bases and dead weight (Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul), they don’t stand a great chance.

Do they really think ESPN is going to keep them on that prime Big Monday slot? Do they really think ESPN will give them a good contract?

Heck, recruiting is about to get a whole lot tougher for the Big East basketball schools.

Look at the schools leaving. All are non-football schools, obviously, and Georgetown and Marquette are the only ones that seem to be consistent NCAA tournament teams going forward. The other five teams were among the seven-worst teams in the Big East last season. Moreover, those five teams were picked among the bottom six in this year’s preseason poll.

Those schools could still recruit at a high level, though, with the promise that prospects would be playing in arguably the best league in the country. It was a high-major league by all definitions, and each school could count itself as a high-major team.

In the new league, can they still market themselves as high-major schools? It’s going to be really difficult for the lower high-majors (DePaul, Seton Hall, Providence) who no longer have an illustrious conference to sell.

If those programs had it rough getting kids when they got the competition and exposure of the Big East, how will it work out when they are showing the games on CBS College Sports or the NBC Sports Channels? Recruiting is still the lifeblood of the programs. They have to worry.

As does the A-10.

It was a good PR move by the A-10 to float the idea of inviting the Big East Seven to join the league as a 21-team conglomeration, but the reality is the breakaway schools were never going to cede that control. Instead the Atlantic 10 is likely going to lose some of its flagship programs to the Big East Seven, with Xavier being a near-lock and Dayton and Butler also looking like strong possibilities. Losses like those would not be easy for the Atlantic 10 to replace. It can still be a multi-bid league in that scenario like the WCC for example, but the days of 3 to 5 NCAA bids each year would almost certainly be over.

Ultimately the Big East died from the same things it was founded on: Fear and resentment of football schools coupled with greed.

Addendum: Just came across two more pieces worth noting.

Marquette’s been spouting off just a bit these days. Their AD went on the radio to rip the Tulane move (not one that impressed me, admittedly) but he basically trashed a school that regularly beat them in the C-USA days. Basically used Tulane as a strawman for all their bitching as this story really makes clear.

The fact that the league is being formed to feature men’s basketball thrills Marquette officials. Since joining the Big East in 2005, Marquette believes it has compromised on its lead sport to accommodate the football wishes of the Big East. But as the Big East struggled to survive by clinging to football, it alienated its seven remaining basketball-first members.

[Emphasis added.]

Seriously, Marquette? Seriously? Feeling your oats these days, huh? That’s some first class arrogance coming from a quarter I never expected. News flash for for the Gold, you were invited to the Big East solely to keep the basketball side placated when the Big East had to expand to, you know, accommodate football. You wouldn’t be in the Big East. Tom Crean would have left a lot sooner. You would be fighting to be Xavier if not for the Big East. If not for the need to accommodate football.

Hell, you were nothing more than teams put in the conference to give the old guard an out.

Pitt coach Jamie Dixon also said on the same podcast that he was told the reason Marquette and DePaul were added 10 years ago was to ensure the five Catholic schools had seven members to retain an NCAA bid if they decided to leave. He said the eventual split of football and non-football was always inevitable, and may have actually happened later than predicted.



As far as the remnants of the BigEast and all those schools entering, exiting or in some other state of movement. lol

I mean how much is ESPN going to want to pay for games such as UConn vs Memphis in football.

Or UCF vs USF. Yea it will get a nice TV rating in Tampa & Orlando, by nobody across the country will even notice it’s on TV.

Or how about Temple vs Houston. I don’t think so.

Temple vs East Carolina. Most ppl even in North Carolina won’t even watch that.

How about East Carolina vs SMU. Won’t even get many in Dallas to watch.

How about Memphis vs Tulane. I doubt many in Memphis or New Orleans would even bother.

Memphis vs USF. Now there’s a classic
Memphis vs Temple. Won’t be a big draw in Philly.

Sorry even with Boise State this leagues TV rights wouldn’t be worth much imo. For even the schools in Big cities like Temple, Memphis, SMU, Houston, Cincy, UCF, USF, etc. don’t exactly get many eyeballs in their own cities.

At the most this is just C-USA money !

Comment by Emel 12.14.12 @ 5:02 pm

Did they ever redo the contract when ND came on?

Comment by Chris 12.14.12 @ 5:15 pm

Only way I see ESPN giving this conf any money is if it decides to start College Football Saturdays at 9am in the morning and need teams as program filler.

Sort of like Breakfast at Wimbledon.

Sort of.

Comment by Emel 12.14.12 @ 5:23 pm

@Chris, I don’t know. I don’t think I ever heard anything about it. I may be wrong. If it was, or will be, then that may be one thing.

Only thing I ever really heard, was, this will keep the conference together, ND has agree to play 4 or 5 ACC teams a year.

If someone knows more let us know. Maryland allready showed it could give a rats ass about playing ND once every 5 years.

Same will be with FSU, Clemson, UNC, NC ST, Va. Tech, any of them, if they would ever get an invite to the Big 10 or SEC.

I didn’t buy into the ND thing at first. Then after a couple days, and reading blogs and news articles and seeing things on tv, a lot of people were saying, “we’re saved, now the conference is secure”. I may have even said a few weeks later, “ya, ok, I guess we have ND, we’re ok”.

After looking back at it, what, what has ND done for the ACC???

Absolutely nothing. Because our womens softball will now play ND every year, we’re never gonna leave the ACC?? Mens swimming has a meet against ND every year, so, we’ll stay in the conf.

They being in for everything but football, will stop no one from leaving. No one.

Comment by Dan 12.14.12 @ 5:31 pm

Unless Swofford has an ace up his sleeve, the only other thing I could think of, that Swofford could be relying on, would be….

We have ND for a 5 year contract. Grab them now, get them acclamated to the ACC, develop friendships and rivalries in all sports over the next 5 years, then at that time to renew……

tell them, sorry, we really need you all in an, and that includes football.

Banking on nowhere else to go at that time????

Comment by Dan 12.14.12 @ 5:33 pm


You are correct sir.
I had no idea there was a clause in the BE contract about no exit fee’s if a Group of Schools leave.
I’m sure most didn’t.

Texas probably wrote some beneficial language in that Grant of Rights contract, since they were holding ‘all the cards’.

So while it may appear that that solidifies the Big 12. It might be all just an illusion.

But in today’s world it’s all about appearances.
And illusions ! (actually it’s always been that way even in ancient times) 😉

@Chris One would think but I haven’t read anything suggesting it.

Comment by Emel 12.14.12 @ 5:33 pm

SI talks about NCAA Tourney payout “units” which determines how much prize money is paid out over a 6 year period. Why didn’t Pitt take their units with them to the ACC?? And if the BE dissolves, can Pitt reclaim these units??

Comment by Mtoolmn 12.14.12 @ 5:57 pm

pitt DC quits takes DC job at NCS i guess we dont
pay are asst coachs top dollar,

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 7:54 pm

Dave Huxtable has left pitt

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 7:55 pm

No tell me your kidding Frankcan. Where is this being reported?

Comment by Floyd 12.14.12 @ 8:05 pm

do you remmber when chryst had trouble hireing asst i think this proves what i thought pitt went cheap we dont pay top dollar why else leaxe after one year for the same job .
more money

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 8:08 pm

He did a great job. What is reason other than $$$?

Comment by frank MD 12.14.12 @ 8:15 pm

the story on graham will come out as asisitant money was cut, group soon to form of pitt alumini ,wanting to to head back to the script and traditions, acc ison the clock, not out of trouble by any means move coming.

Comment by paul shannon 12.14.12 @ 8:18 pm

,sofford is up lets hope he is capable of another surprise

Comment by paul shannon 12.14.12 @ 8:19 pm

who is are next DC will it be tom bradley.
here is the problem there were 23 coaching changes this year and they hired DC our will be that wont leave mutch to pick from.

and if we dont pay top money we will be haveing a hard time finding one so who tom bradley ?

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 8:34 pm

NCS also stole Wisconsin’s OC for their OC, so you do not have proof that Pitt is cheap with Assistants.

Also, browsing around, I see Fraud Graham has his Sun Bathers prepping to play Navy Midshipmen in the Hunger Bowl on 12/29. LOL………….

Comment by Mtoolmn 12.14.12 @ 8:40 pm

I am going to suggest who they hire to be the new defensive coordinator, but it would nice to see them hire someone who wants to be here in Pittsburgh. Huxtible had coached in the ACC before and he really had no ties to Pitt or the region. I thought he did a great job, but that apparently made him a more attractive hire for other programs. They need to get someone who wants to be here.

Comment by Justinian 12.14.12 @ 8:51 pm

I meant to say I’m not going to suggest who they hire.

Comment by Justinian 12.14.12 @ 8:53 pm

MTOOLMN no proof but the AD at wisconsin was charged bye there coach that just left on mike and mike tv show that wisconsin did not pay asst well.

and if you remmber chryst had a hard time hireing asst so i knind of belive were there is smoke there is fire.

that is what i belive why be a DC at another school when you are all ready a DC EXCEPT MORE MONEY

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 8:54 pm

DAN EMel what do you think tom bradley he would recruit well in eastern pa and NJ, and he is a good DC.
he was never charged with ant thing and the penn state coach that is at penn state now kept 2 of joe pa coachs and that is not hurting him.

and at his age he would not be looking to go any were else and he lives in pittsburgh.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 9:11 pm

Bradley is fine by me.
Assistant coaches move, especially early on. Chryst has not been here long enough to have clout.
BUT, if script comes back, what will losses be blamed on?

Comment by SFPitt 12.14.12 @ 9:23 pm

Anyone have inside subs to scout?? There is an article saying TJ clemmings is moving to offense starting with the bowl game…interesting but unfortunately the title is ll non subs can see

Comment by Bcpitt 12.14.12 @ 9:29 pm

EMel i just read a post on yard breaker
were they rated the QBthat are in the bowls this year.
there are 70 QB that were rated tino came it at number 40. i know you thought it would be number 70.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 9:31 pm


Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 9:35 pm

I would be fine with Bradley as well. He’s a terrific recruiter and a good defensive coach. His players loved him and he’s well regarded everywhere in PA. He would definately make an immediate impact on recruiting trail.

Comment by Justinian 12.14.12 @ 10:03 pm

I have no problem with Tom Bradley. Good guy, great recruiter, no he wouldn’t be going anywhere, think he has a home in Pgh.

Has he been totally vetted from the situation completely??

If he’s in the clear, no problem.

Don’t want anything to come back on us.

In the clear, I think he could help Pitt tremendously.

Comment by Dan 12.14.12 @ 10:03 pm

Frankcan, I understand Doreen is very popular. Is it possible Huxtable left for FRIENDSHIP ??

Comment by Mtoolmn 12.14.12 @ 10:08 pm

Bradley smells from Paterno.

Comment by alcofan 12.14.12 @ 10:16 pm

Great article Chas….

“Ultimately the Big East died from the same things it was founded on: Fear and resentment of football schools coupled with greed.”

You left out stupidity…

Turning down Penn State? Looks like G’Town is getting what they deserve.

Comment by Jackagain 12.14.12 @ 10:20 pm

Larry Johnson was a member of the old Penn Staff and O’Brian chose to retain him. It’s pretty tough to keep a guy from ever working again, because he happened to be on the staff. Or because he was the interium head coach after Paterno was fired. He certainlly went after the Pitt job when he had the opportunity. At this point, I think he would love an opportunity to coach at Pitt. I’m sure Paul Chryst faced his defense, when he was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin

Comment by Justinian 12.14.12 @ 10:28 pm

Justinian then it is done bradley for DC
it makes sense he lives in pgh.
he would recruit eastern pa and NJ and do it well
he was a good DC he is old enough that he would stay at pitt most likley be his last job. and he is out of work and you could get him for what pitt wants to pay.
bradley for DC.GET HER DONE.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 10:41 pm

Teryl Austin would be a real nice pick up. Strong recruiter, great experience. Salary in the $450k range.

Tom Bradley is interesting. Larry Johnson Sr. seems to have weathered the storm at the other school and Bradley has yet to be brought into the frey.

I would be interested to see a comparison of DC pay across the ACC. Fortunately, the bigger recruits are on the offensive side of the ball. Anybody notice there aren’t many 5 foot somethings on the list? Go big!!

Comment by dhuffdaddy 12.14.12 @ 10:44 pm

As I’ve said here before….Bradley knew ;-)…and Pitt knows this. Otherwise i’d be fine with it.

Comment by Jackagain 12.14.12 @ 10:46 pm

Here isthe thing it is like justinian says
hire someone who wants to be here.

bradly lives in pittsburgh he would not be looking to leave.

and he is a very good DC and the players he coached liked him.

and a lot of good players come out of NJ and he has a lot of contacts there.

i see it as win if we get him.

Comment by FRANKCAN 12.14.12 @ 11:11 pm

bradley is tied up to2014, huxtable is from the south

Comment by paul shannon 12.14.12 @ 11:17 pm

I could just see Pitt playing PSU in a couple years with Bradley on the Pitt sidelines coaching the defense 🙂

Comment by Jackagain 12.14.12 @ 11:20 pm

Can’t see Pitt adding Bradley. He’s tainted by PSU scandal and Peterson would not risk letting Chryst bring him on board. Also, Chryst would not be smart to have an DC with a higher profile than him when he’s trying to build the system. Chances of seeing Bradley on Pitt sideline ranks down there with bring Rhoads back

Comment by Mtoolmn 12.14.12 @ 11:54 pm

Wow Jackagain, I never saw that anywhere. Where’d ya see that??

Comment by Dan 12.15.12 @ 12:16 am

Bradley almost guarantees continuity if nothing else. Great recruiter, good coordinator, well liked everywhere.
I believe he attended some of Pitt’s practices earlier in the year.
Would help establish Pitt as an up and comer(imo).

Comment by frankarms 12.15.12 @ 8:44 pm

Frankcan, how many recruits is Pedophilia St allowed this year?

Comment by marcus of schaumburg 12.16.12 @ 11:18 am

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