When the official announcement came, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco was on a plane to New Orleans, where he will watch Big East champion Louisville face Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.
Once again, Aresco will have to deal with a defection, rather than an addition, as Boise State chose Plan B, which was not to join the Big East football conference next July as scheduled. Instead, the Broncos will stay with the Mountain West in all sports.
Which begs an ongoing question for Aresco and the Big East. What’s next? With Boise State gone, San Diego State–which has a no exit payment clause in its agreement with the Big East if there are no other teams west of the Rockies–could also do a U-turn and stay with the Mountain West.
Don’t bet against that happening quickly as well, which would basically wipe out the Big East’s Western expansion strategy and leave the league at 10 teams–which means no championship game next season as had been planned.
With that move and some expected movement by the 7 Catholic non FBS schools who declared earlier this month that they were also leaving, Big East football is even more in state of limbo than it has been for the past several months.
Or in more blunt terms: Turn out the lights, the party is over.
If I were Aresco, I would make the call to Conference USA, which is set to give up Central Florida, East Carolina, Tulane, SMU, Houston, Memphis to the Big East, and talk merger. Take the 12 teams currently in Conference USA, add UConn, Cincinnati, Temple and South Florida to form a 16 team all sports conference and make the best of it. I would allow Rutgers and Louisville to leave early (next season) for the Big Ten and ACC. Let Notre Dame join Pitt and Syracuse in the non-football ACC sports as well.
Then I would sit down with the television networks and Conference USA officials and say we have a 16-team all sports, two division conference. Make us an offer and we will sign the deal.
The 7 Catholic schools in the Big East and the surviving Big East members who currently are still members in good standing (Cincinnati, UConn and South Florida) should then split all the money that the conference now has and is due to receive. I would then let the football operation be called Conference USA and the Catholic Schools can take the Big East name.
I would thank everyone and then turn out the lights and lock the doors.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.