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.