Georgetown is leader of the pack

Now it is official. The Catholic 7 as they are becoming known officially told the Big East they were leaving the conference on Saturday.

But the move won’t be made soon. Too much money is still on the table. It probably won’t be as long as June 30th, 2015, which is the first time DePaul, Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall,  Marquette,  Villanova can leave without paying any kind of exit fee.

A good guess would be June 30th, 2014, with some kind of financial payoff for leaving early.

The question that must be asked now is what next, how does this Catholic 7 group move back into the flow of college athletics as a basketball, but no FBS football, conference? And who will lead the way?

As Hal Holbrook, playing the role  of “Deep Throat”  in the movie All the Presidents Men told Robert Redford, playing the  role of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

“It was a Haldeman operation. The whole business was run by Haldeman.”

In the case of  the Catholic 7 Georgetown is playing the role of  Bob  Haldeman (Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff).

The move to exit the Big East was not totally orchestrated by Georgetown. But it was triggered by the Hoyas.

The dissatisfaction of the Catholic 7 as a football/basketball conference had been building for 15 years.  You would go around the Big East and you would hear the muttering from the Catholic 7 schools about how they wished it were back to the good old days of the 80’s when Big East basketball ruled the athletic world–3 teams in the Final  Four in 1985.

It was a conference of legendary coaches and administrators  Jim Calhoun, Dave Gavitt and Jim Boeheim, and Lou Carnesecca and John Thompson.

But as much as they muttered, they also liked the football money the Big East provided–no  matter what the amount–each year. What they didn’t like was the addition AND  subtraction of teams in the league.  Suddenly it was not Georgetown-Syracuse or Pittsburgh–Villanova.  Syracuse and Pittsburgh were gone. So were Louisville,West Virginia and Notre Dame.

Now it was Providence vs. Central  Florida and Georgetown-Tulane.

More rumbling.  But no one had the gumption to take control and lead the group out the door.

In the last few weeks that changed and when the Catholic schools met in New York with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco last Sunday, Georgetown was not only there, but they were asking questions. Lots of questions.

This was a key. Of the group of 7, Georgetown had the most impressive credentials. The others talked a good game, but they were all wannabees.

Georgetown, coached by John Thompson III,  still had game.

Providence,  St. John’s, Seton Hall. All had been in the also ran category in terms of achievement for years. Villanova was a player, but had lost its fast ball the past few years. Marquette was a newcomer. DePaul was like a pilot fish, feeding off everyone, but contributing almost nothing.

Georgetown was the leader. Georgetown’s voice was heard when the Big East turned down the billion dollar television deal offered by ESPN a few years ago. Georgetown was the one who was preaching patience when the Big East was morphing into a Conference USA type of league.

But suddenly it was different. Georgetown was leading the pack and last Sunday did a symbolic “walking out the door” move. The other Catholic schools couldn’t get to their  feet fast enough and follow.

By Wednesday it was unofficially done. By Saturday it was official–although following the horrific news out of Newtown, Ct., they should have waited a few more days to make that announcement.

Now it is time to move on and again Georgetown will lead the way. If you want a clue as to the direction the Catholic 7 or 10 or 12 will go, look out for white smoke coming in the D.C. area.

Watch the movements of former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who served as a consultant on the Big East expansion. Does anyone really think that expanding to Dallas, Houston and the West Coast was a (former Big East commissioner) John Marinatto decision?

Tagliabue will have his finger prints all over the final formation of the Catholic 7. And it will be primarily a Georgetown led operation.

The best guess is that it will be limited to the Midwest and East. The Gonzaga-St Mary’s Catholic USA thing doesn’t make  sense. Think Xavier, St. Louis, Creighton, Dayton and Butler.  Think George Mason. Of that group pick 3 or pick 5 and you will probably be pretty close to getting it.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  8 comments for “Georgetown is leader of the pack

  1. Tom P
    December 18, 2012 at 10:16 am

    I don’t think Paul Tagliabue should be involved as he is a Georgetown alum and a very good basketball player. They need to find a more neutral consultant.

  2. Chris Columbo
    December 17, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Georgetown will be the leader because they are the most prestigious school both in terms of on the court and in academics. Marquette while a newcomer to the Big East has a long basketball pedigree and their new AD, who is an ex NFL player who practiced law, provided a lot of leadership in the process.. My sense is St.Johns will have a lot to say in the process given their New York location and playing in the Garden. If the new conference brings in Xavier Dayton and Butler, they will have a nice 10 team conference that not only makes sense geographically but also will be something that people will want to watch on TV. Additionally, DePaul while not adding much recently is actually positioning itself for bigger things. They have two parties competing for them to be a tenant, the Bulls stadium and a new lakefront arena that the city is proposing to build. I can remember the days in the 70s when DePaul has some players , they were on NBC every weekend.

  3. KAL
    December 17, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Actually, Georgetown’s DeGioia is co-chair of the Big East Conference, as has been reported in zagsblog on Dec 15th by Fr Harrington, President of St John’s. I’m not sure this needs to be painted in such a pejorative way as if the other other schools outside of GU are acting as lemmings and simply following GU to their ultimate fate. According to Fr Harrington, there’s been a lot of dialogue among the presidents of the 7 schools and the decision-making process appears to be a group effort. No doubt, Georgetown’s performance on the court this season leads the group of 7, however, DeGioia’s leadership role as co-chair of the conference is more a matter of coincidence than it is of prescient lucidity on GU’s part.

  4. commonesnes
    December 17, 2012 at 12:53 am

    This account of the events and role of Georgetown is peculiar, particularly all word coming from others in the Catholic 7 is that they were waiting to announce but that Georgetown had not committed yet.

    Frankly, Tagliabue probably gave Georgetown bum advice when he told them to vote to reject ESPN’s offer to the Big East. It was likely considerably more money than the teams in the Catholic 7 will be getting. If the ESPN deal had gone thru it isn’t a certainty but it’s possible some teams who jumped ship may have stayed. In any case that is spilt milk but it does cause me concern if Tagliabue is in anyway leading the charge for the new conference.

    Furthermore, news reports from other parts of the country report that Marquette and Villanova were leading the charge to leave the Big East. In the NY media it was reported that St. Johns was in the forefront. I don’t know what to believe but I do know that Tagliabue may not be the best person to be listening to. I would go back to Tranghese, if he is willing, even if only as a consultant. He has a vision for the bball driven conference and experience in leading such a conference.

  5. RudyMass
    December 16, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    So you tell a bunch of priests to shut up, advise them to wait 48 hours to make an announcement, profanely insult your readership who offer a different view, and then ignore your own advice and blog the next day. A true Jersey guy.

    • Mark
      December 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      Let me put this very clearly to someone who obviously can’t read what has been written. I said they should have waited until Monday to discuss the matter. I also said that scheduled events need to go on because it affected more people. Conference calls and teleconferences are different matters. They could have easily been put off with a simple explanation. NO one would have argued the point.
      I thought it was wrong. I said it. But life does move on, each day, which is what I am doing. And I am definitely moving past you.

  6. Ryan
    December 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    I think Richmond needs to be added to the list of serious candidates and Duquesne as a fringe candidate.

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