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.