New Big East needs basketball to survive in football

It is almost over.  With Louisville’s move from the Big East to the ACC on Wednesday, this round of conference reconfiguration is just about done. The only move that will be made is for the Big East in football is to replace Louisville. Look for Big  East Commissioner Mike Aresco to look westward–maybe Fresno State, San Jose State or Utah State, if he can’t convince BYU or Air Force, which would be his first two choices.

The perceived loser in all of this is Connecticut, which had been a neck and neck battle with Louisville for the open ACC spot. Rutgers announced it was leaving for the Big Ten last week, West Virginia jumped to the Big 12 this season and Notre Dame (all sports but football) Pittsburgh and Syracuse are also headed to the ACC.

The Big East is also regarded as a loser, again taking a hit while it is in the middle of television negotiations which will ultimately determine the future of the conference.

One of the many ironies of the latest move is this: When the Big East turned down an offer from ESPN to virtually double the television revenue from 6 to 11 million dollars per school a few years ago, four of the loudest voices against accepting the offer were: Rutgers, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Notre Dame.–all who have left or who are leaving the Big East.

The other irony is that the Big East could be the first league to ever have a team win its first conference championship in football (Rutgers, which faces Louisville on Thursday night for at least a share of the title and a BCS bid) while a member of another conference.

The Big East could also be the first league to have defending conference champions in football and basketball unable to defend their title because the champions are no longer in the league.

And while many people at UConn are shaking their head and wondering what do we do now, there may be a move Aresco could make that would placate UConn, as well as the segment of Big East Catholic schools who do not play football.

Here’s how it would work. A 14 team football league and an 18 team league in basketball.

The football divisions would be:

UConn, Temple, Navy, Central Florida, South Florida, Tulane and East  Carolina would be in the Eastern Division.

Boise State, San  Diego State, Houston, Memphis, Cincinnati, SMU and lets say Fresno State would be in the Western Division.

That would be two 7 team, relatively geographically compatible divisions, who would play 6 divisional conference games, two cross over games and four non conference games as well as league championship game, with the winner presumably getting one of the “BCS” bids available to the team from the group of five conferences with the best record.

For UConn, it would provide a better opportunity of winning a conference title than if it had moved to the ACC.

But basketball is the key for the  new Big East.

The two 9 team divisions would be:

St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, DePaul, Providence, UConn and Temple.

This would be a mini-version of the old Big East with all the Catholic schools playing each other every year, with a series of cross over games as well as having the availability of attracting some high-profile non conference opponents.

The other division would be a min-version of the old Conference USA under the Big East umbrella with Big East television and football money as incentives.

Central Florida, South Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati and Tulane would form the core group of the division. Throw in a Xavier, Butler Dayton or George Mason as the other two teams and you have two good two very good basketball divisions. They could all come together at the Big  East tournament in New York each March.

The end result of this is clear: Football would be a nice second tier league with good competition going from coast to coast. Basketball would have two very good divisions. The Catholic schools would be comfortable because they would be in familiar surroundings, while receiving football money.

On Wednesday, Aresco would not rule out any move. “We are considering all of our options,” he said.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  8 comments for “New Big East needs basketball to survive in football

  1. Stuart
    December 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    If you take the Catholics plus UConn and toss them in one Division, which will get almost all the TV games, then why is that better than bolting on their own?

    I can see the 7 Catholics dissolving and reforming the Big East, selectively inviting UConn, and four others (you pick – or better yet let then give their case competitively and select, with network input). That gives you a tight geographic Big East with content for four rounds at MSG Tournament, no dogs for TV games, and split similar money 12 ways. Inviting UConn does two things, it adds a very high value school everyone wants to play and it adds an ally who might have been a litigant.

    Maybe you dissolve and reorganize, keeping Big East Football, but as an independent entity, so the Bowl contracts can remain in place and the new schools (plus UConn and Cincy) have a place to play football. You could even require they brand a new name in a year or two, so that BE Basketball is cut free from the mid-major image that is Football. The MWC, CUSA, SBC and MAC Basketball will never get respect because of the association to mid-major football, and it is equally a bad idea for the Big East.

  2. Andrew
    November 28, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    . The big east was looked upon as the weakest football conference and not much has changed.

    The Big East was built as a basketball conference and I think they should get back to that model. Having football makes it more lucrative regardless of teams.

    My solution is to absorb the best basketball and football teams not in power conferences.

    I would invite UNLV and SDSU as full members to bolster basketball. Invite BYU all sports and give in to their demands. Add Fresno State to the mix all sports also. Add Air Force for football. I would extend a full sports invite to Ohio also.

    Basketball wise I would poach gonzaga Xavier creighton witchita state butler VCU saint Mary’s.

    You can have east and west football divisions and the winners play in a championship game. Basketball could be done the same way with the bigger programs having cross over games.

    In order to survive this you need to think outside of the box.


  3. Brown Dog
    November 28, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    Would anything piss off Cinci more than that proposed arrangement? They’re stuck in the West for FB and the far less desirable C-USA group for hoops? Then you’re going to possibly add two schools (Dayton & Xaver) in their geographic market? That’s a triple screw job.

    First things first: Swap Cinci & Tulane in the FB divisions. That also solves an overlooked dilemma: Memphis, Houston, SMU & Tulane are all in the Central to go along with 2 Pacific (SDSU, Fresno) and 1 Mountain (Boise). Cinci and the other 6 East Division schools would all be in the Eastern Time Zone. This will absolutely matter to whatever network is paying for broadcast rights.

    Next, ensure the two new schools are Butler & GMU (or even VCU), and avoid the SE Ohio overkill. Do that, and the Bearcats would more easily tolerate being left out of the Catholic basketball group.

    • Mark
      November 28, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      good plan. send to the big east. they are probably taking suggestions.

  4. Guy
    November 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Second Tier football conference? Why should any of the new teams stick around for that, especially the ones who will not benefit from playing basketball at all or even those who are playing but won’t get to play G’Town, Marquette, Villanova every year.

    Cincy would be thinking, WTH?

    Time for the Big East to circle its wagons along the actual Eastern US. No way I see Navy coming on board after all the defections and the ones to possibly come now. Additionally, the conference should allow Boise, San Diego, Houston, SMU to go their own way without penalty.

    UConn and Cincy probably won’t be here long once the ACC loses a couple more and the western 4 can do just as well int he mountains or west. At that time the Big East may become a true basketball only league again, probably for the best anyway.

    If it stills wants second tier football the conference can still have Temple, Memphis, UCF, USF, ECU, USM, Tulane and UMass. Those schools would be the football coreonce all the moves end. All of those schools would be all sports members and maybe the conference could pick up either Xavier or Butler to round out basketball (8 all sports team, 8 bball teams).

    Best of luck Big East!

  5. eric
    November 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    UConn and CIncy are both losers right now as it stands, great points tho

  6. george
    November 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    You say “The perceived loser in all of this is Connecticut”

    I would eliminate the word perceived.

    Yukon decided to do battle with BC. And now Yukon knows the cost of messing with their betters. As promised, BC has made sure that Yukon and BC are never in the same league. What a shame. Of course, Mark, at some level you hate BC and will naturally siide with Yukon.

    Yukon should disband its FBS football and join a regional D-III/FCS league — perhaps a bus-based league around New England. Crazy, drunk, battery throwing Yukon fans could drive to all games and raise hell.

  7. MaroonNGold
    November 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Mark, I like your idea of the 2 hoops divisions.

    The first one mostly with the Catholic schools, by itself, would be exciting in the way that the Big East Tourneys in Madison Square Garden were before the defections.

    Hard to adequately describe the fun and excitement that was present every March at that tournament.

    As to football, while replacements for the core members are necessary, this new loop seems hard to relate to, at least for an easterner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *