Big East basketball break up not a surprise

Things a Jerseyguy  noted this week:  The horrific news out of Newtown, Ct. makes all of the nonsense involving college realignment even sillier in the big picture, but my mind simply can’t process the evil of what happened on Friday, so we will use this week’s notes  as a pure escape from reality.

Much has been made about the demise of the Big East because of the group of 7 Catholic basketball schools to break off on their own. In reality, the Big East hasn’t really been the Big East since Syracuse made its decision to leave for the ACC last season, even though the Orangemen are still finishing their run in the conference this season. Even in the past several years as schools such as Marquette and DePaul have been added to the mix, the Big East has lost much of the lustre when it was what the late great Dave Gravitt envisioned–an Eastern based, primarily Catholic basketball league.

With expansion and a series of defections which basically has left Connecticut as the odd man out from the original group, the Big East has morphed into a hybrid league which was unrecognizable to many long time observers.

One of my best Big East memory moments was when Seton Hall made it to the Final Four in Seattle in 1989. Then Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo had having a pre-game dinner with the writers covering the team one of his rituals.

But this was the Final Four and Seton Hall was only hours away from playing Michigan for the national championship. Needless to say more than a few heads turned in the media area of the massive Kingdome when Newark Star Ledger reporter Tom Luicci and I were joined at the table by none other than the Seton Hall basketball coach.  “”Gotta eat,” said Carlesimo.

The league had much more of  a family feeling.  For years, whenever Syracuse would take a road trip to Seton Hall, the post game tradition would be that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and his staff would have dinner at one with Carlesimo and his staff at one of P.J.’s favorite restaurants, Wine would flow, pasta would be served, stories would be told and the two coaches would then try to beat each other the next time they met.


Lots of suggestions for how UConn gets out of the box it is in terms of conference affiliation. The Huskies could maintain a high-profile in basketball by trying to join the Catholic 7 group, but what happens to football? Before anyone goes crazy about the mystique of the Catholic  7 group, take a look at the recent history of those programs. Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul, even Villanova. None have exactly been a factor in the NCAA tournament.


Here’s what Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs wrote about this group of Big East schools.

“There is no greater fib than the one that paints the Catholic basketball schools as victims in the Big East saga. Ha. Ha. Ha. LOL. Amen. In the midst of the Big East’s getting eight, nine, 10, even 11 bids, DePaul hasn’t made an NCAA Tournament since joining the league. St. John’s? One NCAA since 2000. Providence? No NCAAs since 2004. Seton Hall? Six years without an NCAA appearance.”


Bowl season begins on Saturday. Can’t wait for the New Mexico Bowl–Arizona vs. Nevada and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl–Toledo vs. Utah State. In 2005, that game was called the MPC Computers Bowl and Boston College was matched against home town favorite Boise State. BC won the game–one of the few games Boise has lost on its blue home turf. But what was most noteworthy about that week was that at a Boston  College team dinner that week, the kitchen staff ran out of….potatoes.


If there is more conference reconfiguration, the main target will be the ACC, which would be ironic since it was the ACC which really began the poaching period almost 10 years ago by going after Virginia Tech, Miami, Syracuse and  Boston College…UMass’s long term future at the FBS level do not look great now. UMass officials had counted on heavier support from a strong alumni base inside the 495 circle around Boston. The numbers are there, but unless the football team wins, no one will come to  Foxboro to watch. Playing in the MAC, with no real rivals also doesn’t help..Former BC AD Gene DeFilippo’s son John has a decent shot to be the next coach at San Jose State. John was an OC at San Jose State before taking a job as QB coach of the Oakland Raiders this season.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  2 comments for “Big East basketball break up not a surprise

  1. sjgmoney
    December 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    UMass future in FBS doesn’t look great? Good to see you’re so ready to form a judgement after one year, ay yay yay. No wonder you have so many people absolutely trashing you on this blog, your ignorance knows no bounds, it just goes continues.

  2. Captain Marvy
    December 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    UConn needs to go with the football schools, do as well as they can, and hope the ACC eventually gives them a call. Make the best of things. UMass should join the Catholic Big East for basketball, with the understanding that they will eventually leave, and either keep football in the MAC or else hope UConn and Temple will offer them a football-only invitation similar to Navy, Boise State, and San Diego State.

    The Catholic Big East can be UMass, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, and Georgetown in the East — while Xavier, Dayton, Butler, DePaul, Marquette, and St. Louis are in the West — a perfect dozen. Flying all the way to Creighton and Gonzaga would be a gigantic mistake. UMass can eventually be replaced by a team like Holy Cross or Boston U if they manage to step up in hoops.

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