UConn, Cincinnati leaning towards Catholic 7?

While the football half of what remains of the Big East was conducting meetings in Dallas, hoping to keep San Diego State–and other nervous members–in the fold, the group of 7 Catholic schools were considering the possibility which would add existing football members Connecticut and Cincinnati into the group for all sports but football.

The meeting in Dallas produced no hard decisions, but the general consensus after the meeting  was that  San Diego State would be remaining with the Mountain West in all sports.

If that plays itself out in the next few weeks, two more Big East members,  Cincinnati and Connecticut, may be ready to depart.

According to sources at Connecticut, some UConn officials were considering a plan which would keep the Huskies with the Catholic 7–Marquette, DePaul, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova and Providence, as well as Cincinnati.

Others, including UConn Athletic director Ward Manuel, who was at the Big East meeting in Dallas, emphatically said that the Huskies’ intention was to keep all sports together in one league.

If the Catholic 7 , plus UConn plan  was put in place, schools as Butler, Xavier and Saint Louis would be the front runners in a very powerful basketball conference.

In order to do that, however, UConn officials must find a place for football. And while nothing officially has been offered, another  landing place for football  is being explored.

It seems very unlikely that staying in the Big East in football, but  playing in the Catholic 7 league in basketball would be approved.  The Huskies could try and make it work as an independent, but that is also not likely to happen.

They could offer themselves as a free agent,   perhaps venturing to the Mountain West as part of an overall expansion plan for the MWC which would expand from 10 teams to 12, 14 or 16 teams, if the schools currently committed to the Big East such as Houston, SMU, Memphis, Central Florida and South Florida, find themselves in a crumbling football conference and switch to the MWC.

Or they could be part of a hybrid of survivors from Conference USA or join the MAC. None are ideal situations.

But if the idea of protecting basketball becomes a paramount issue, then the split format may work.

For UConn and for the Catholic 7 base, it becomes a win-win situation.  The 12 team basketball league would be filled with highly successful schools in a relatively tight geographical area and would also maintain some strong rivalries such as Providence-UConn and Georgetown-UConn.

UConn’s commitment to the MWC in football would be as federated member only and while it would stand alone as an Eastern rep in a western based league, the addition of Cincinnati and perhaps the Florida or Texas schools would make it a much more workable arrangement.

For the Catholic schools, there would be little risk if UConn and Cincinnati were taken by the ACC, since a solid base of 10 all basketball schools would remain and could be replaced with other solid schools such as Creighton, George Mason or VCU.

Caught in the middle of this tug of war is Big East commissioner Mike Aresco, who Friday put on a positive face about the talks in Dallas. But Aresco could also be working for the new non-football playing Big East in the future as well, something he is  already doing as he negotiates a new contract in basketball for next season for all the schools still connected to the Big  East.

© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.

  54 comments for “UConn, Cincinnati leaning towards Catholic 7?

  1. CS
    January 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    IMHO, the “Big East 6”, UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple and Central Florida, should break off and then add UMass, Buffalo and Ohio in all sports then add Army and Navy in football only (with another team to be named in all sports…maybe Miami of Ohio, Kent State or Northern Illinois). This would be an entirely eastern-based league so travel would not be a huge hassle for any school involved. Over-all, the football programs would be comparable and competitive and not at all hard to watch (is anyone excited for the UConn/Tulane game?). This would be an extraordinary basketball league featuring seven of its ten all sports members who are not at all strangers to the NCAA Tournament. No, maybe not the level of the current Big East, ACC or Big Ten but they still would be very good and an easy sell to the networks. Non-revenue sports would be pretty balanced as well. Plus this is the kind of group that I doubt Cincy & UConn would mind making a “profound commitment” to. The Army/Navy game is already an American sports tradition. UConn/Cincy, UConn/UMass, Cincy/Ohio, South Fla/Central Fla, Temple/Memphis, Army/Buffalo, Army/Memphis and Buffalo/UConn are all natural rivalries which could be fostered and built in to very entertaining (which equates in to sellable) events. Army and Navy bring instant respect and a long tradition which the league could also build upon.

    • fin
      January 28, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      There was a report that UConn and Cinci were talking of building their own conference. Nothing was ever heard of it again. The likely reason is that schools they would need like Memphis and the Florida schools like the nBE lineup.

      Your breakaway could probably be Uconn, Cinci, & Temple. They could add schools like UMass, Buffalo, Miami (ohio), ODU, Delaware, and Ohio. (I am assuming you are wanting better academics.)

      Maybe Navy and/or Army would join as it is weaker, but if they do not, the problem is short term the finances and athletics are poorer.

      I mean look at it. It is basically UConn and Cinci in the MAC today.

  2. Molly McGuire
    January 14, 2013 at 1:08 am

    Yes, To the Temple Grad who thinks that playing ECU in football is some kind of downgrade is completely ignorant. News Flash! There is not one single nBE conference football program (including Temple) that is in any way superior to ECU’s football program when it comes to home attendance averages, and bowl appearances. ECU holds a 16-3 head to head advantage over Cincinnati, the record vs. Memphis is even greater, vs. UCF is 9-3. When BE teams come to Greenville, be prepared to come to the same type of environment you saw at WVU. Visiting teams find it to be a hard out playing ECU. Ask WVU, UC, Va Tech, NCSU, Pitt, UNC, Arkansas, Syracuse, Louisville. And others. Please Temple fan, ECU is not impressed with your Owls overall programs Bowl Record, or attendance at home.

  3. Boyee
    January 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I hope the ACC take UConn and Cincinnati joins the MAC. If the ACC decides to expand to 16 they already have 15 for Olympic sports with Notre Dame, so if they do likely only 1 would be added. It is possible UConn and Cincy will join the “Catholic 7 and be football only in the MAC. I don’t think the ACC will add anyone until someone else leaves for another conference. All of the “Catholic 7” are private Catholic schools, no sure they’d want public schools.

  4. john
    January 12, 2013 at 10:29 am

    I would hope this is not true, with what has transpired in the Big East and a “western footprint The sinking ship that has all crew members looking for life rafts and the exit strategy- my gut says no way the MWC with a horrible commissioner and lousy media market, that any decent football program would consider the idea expressed. Cincy is a good football and b-ball program, UConn obviously is a good b-ball school, and up until recently I had no clue they played football. Travel and rivalries can be developed, but this is stupid. We have been trying to dump Craig Thompson forever, the guy is a loser for the mwc.

    • Jeff
      January 12, 2013 at 11:15 am

      I am a Colorado State U alum, and living here in the southeast I can tell you that teams in the MWC are almost completely anonymous. One of the the only exceptions was when Boise State came east to play Va Tech and Georgia in recent years, and Boise is hardly an MWC charter member. There was a time, when the best teams in the then WAC split away to form the MWC that there were high hopes the new conference would become a national power. Alas, just the opposite has happened.

      • Greg
        January 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        I’m an ECU alumni and about to move to Fort Collins. I had really hoped for the MWC-CUSA partnership. I still think a 24 team alliance would rock. Maybe the Big East and Mtn West can put something together and stop sniping at one another.

        • fin
          January 31, 2013 at 9:05 am

          I think the Boise deal makes that impossible. Now here’s an out of the box (ie. pie in the sky) idea…Let’s say the unthinkable happens and realignment cools down…In 3 years the MWC schools may be gettign raked accross the coals when their TV deal is renewed. The BE Schools may be makign 3.5-5M per in TV.

          Let’s say the BE invites everyone with value from the MWC But Boise State. Everyone with a market, a BB program, or strong fb support.

          Financially it works and it gives the BE the national footprint they wanted.

          • fin
            January 31, 2013 at 9:31 am

            oh forgot that leaves some slots open assuming the BE is 12 and the MWC is maybe 7-8. With both AFA and Navy in hand, Army would be possible. UTEP fits to bridge the conferences (strong BB). At that point BYU MIGHT consider it. Charlotte and ODU might have proven themselves worthy of consideration at that point. (ODU might be good enough in FB and Charlotte may draw huge crowds). Both would act as glue in the east and are strong BB schools.

  5. Jack
    January 12, 2013 at 6:24 am

    What a hack. Making it up as you go?

  6. Jamie Barnes
    January 12, 2013 at 2:56 am

    C’mon … first of all, basketball matters little in the overall financial scheme of things. UConn, Cincy, Temple and South Florida have a hell of a lot more in common with Houston, Central Florida and Memphis than Georgetown, Villanova and Providence. Even moderate-level FBS programs stand to make a LOT more money from football than in first-rate basketball programs. And it’s arguable that — despite their on-the-court success — the “Catholic 7” are any more successful over the last decade than, say, the bottom half of the SEC basketball programs.

    Right or wrong, fair or not, football rules because it has a much greater upside than basketball does. If I’m the Catholic 7, I’m going to get assurances from Villanova that the school won’t eventually try to jump to the MAC, Conference USA or (ironically) the Big East because — even though Villanova is somewhat recognized nationally as a basketball school — the school has committed significantly to having a very successful FCS football program.

    With that in mind, the MWC can try and convince Cincy and UConn to play basketball in whatever East Coast-centric basketball outfit it wants and play football-only in the west … but it’s not going to happen.

    Conference-USA commands a similar geographic-economic-competitive power index to the MWC. Consider: Conference USA is 7-2 in the past two years in bowl games. What gets lost in the shuffle of conference-realignment intrigue is that the MWC cannot come close to matching the emerging Big East in terms of market value and overall competitiveness, even with the recent bolt of Boise State.

    Put in simple terms: The Mountain West is posing right now. It’s bigger geographic cousin, the Pac-12, did so successfully recently. Ask yourself: In retrospect, just how great was the conference’s addition of Utah and Colorado? At best, those programs are mediocre, in spite of the success Utah had had in football and basketball during the previous decade. Where’s Utah now?

    Anyway …

    Fair or not, conferences should have their population and market base in the East, rather than the West. That’s where the population, best markets and, quite frankly, most competitive programs in football and basketball in the U.S. are.

    • Greg
      January 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s good to know there’s a few rational minds out there.

      • fin
        January 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

        Do not forget that basketball revenue is not only TV revenue. BB can generate big money via tourney units. The BE is pulling something like 27M this year via those payouts.

  7. RudyMass
    January 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm

    As a Temple grid and hoops season tix holder this all brings profound sadness. If Bradshaw had been his own man and not listened to Meatball we would have been fine in MAC and in the best mid-major hoops conference. Now what do I have to look forward to, the traditional home-and-home with freaking East Carolina? Thanks, Bradshaw. Thanks, Big East.

    • Big Shot Bob
      January 12, 2013 at 12:02 am

      Agree, but when you sleep with dogs(huskies) you wake up with fleas. If Ucon were a dog, you would get away from them,they are rabid(desperate) to join up with BC. Unfortunately BC continues to tell them to screw.#Ucant#Midmajor

    • Chesapeake Pirate
      January 12, 2013 at 12:46 am

      I remember traveling to football games at Temple in the past when the East Carolina fans would outnumber the Temple fans. Now I understand why you prefer MAC football.

    • Greg
      January 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Rudy, that’s kind of a jerk-comment. East Carolina is a football member only, and I’m pretty sure ECU football is taking a downgrade in playing Temple. The bottom-line here is that the top Big East and top Mountain West schools need each other. I say we get both to 12 teams, pair the champions in a bowl, and hope its enough for the ultimate winner to get into the playoff occasionally.

  8. Guy
    January 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    You old dog Mark, I see you edited your blog post.

    • Ben Dover
      January 14, 2013 at 11:01 am

      One of Blauds greatest tricks

  9. Ponykris89
    January 11, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    OKlahoma and Kansas going to Big 10? Then Cincy and UConn backfill Big 12?
    For a Columbo I would expect better deductive reasoning.

  10. January 11, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    I think we can all assume sdsu will not join the bigeast. There is no way that UConn and Cinci join the C7. Just not happening. Why not Memphis too?

    • Guy
      January 11, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      I hope Memphis would join the C7, that’s where it belongs.

      Memphis doesn’t need to field a FBS team, but they could be an awesome bball school.

      Go for it Tigers!

  11. Chris Columbo
    January 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    The notion of U Conn and Cincy joining C7, while interesting, is not likely simply because they both still have FBS ambition and C7 is looking for stability. Cincy just hired a brand name football coach and is commiting big dollars to uograde their stadium. U Conn already has spent a fortune.My sense is the only way C7 would agree is with a very significant lock up agreement which would not be in U Conn or Cincy interest. My sense is another Big Ten boot will drop and they will likely add Oklahoma and Kansas from Big 12. Cincy will fill one opening for sure and U Conn likely get the other. In the meantime they bide their time in what’s left of the Big East. In Cincys case they get some 10-11 win seasons under the belt, U Conn has time to get a few winning seasons . C7 is a good/great fans solution for sure but not a good economic one. The additional basketball dollars are a pittance compared to the potential football dollars. I would like to see this happen but the probability is low.

    • Ponykris89
      January 11, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      OKlahoma and Kansas going to Big 10? Then Cincy and UConn backfill Big 12?
      For a Columbo I would expect better deductive reasoning.

  12. Guy
    January 11, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    There is tremendous uncertainty in the Big East, no TV deal in sight and Aresco is getting his butt handed to him.

    That provides tremendous support to the new members I’m sure. These rumors, crazy or partially true only stem from a terrifically unstable situation.

    If the Big East were a stock, sell it and put your money (i.e. fandom and discretionary income) in safe, reliable blue chips like the Big Ten, SEC and PAC 12.

  13. SJGMoney
    January 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    So what I told you a week ago is playing out, SD State is not coming to the Big East. Why you continue to listen to your sources with the basketball schools is beyond me. They (and you) may think that basketball is important but to TV…not so much.

    If UConn was smart, a big if, they would be working on getting Villanova and hopefully one more of the C7 to commit to big time football. Tell the rest to take their round ball and go screw. Get rid of the nonsense western and southwest epansion and retool around a rock solid 12 team all sports Big East. Give up the ghost of conferences past and stop waiting for Robert Parish (ACC), Kevin McHale (Big 12) and Larry Bird (B1G) to walk thru that door and start over and build up a great conference.

  14. SJGMoney
    January 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    @Joe Crum needs to do some homework to avoid making idiotic comments. Football brings in a hell of a lot more TV money than basketball.

    • fin
      January 28, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      In general yes, but the Catholic 7 members will be making more TV money than CUSA, SB, MAC, and most MWC members.

      All offer FBS sports.

      Also do not forget that basketball can generate big money via tourney units. the BE is pulling something like 27M this year via those payouts.

  15. Ncrdbl1
    January 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    This dude is grasping at every straw he can right now. UConn is NOT going to go near the MWC in any sport. I do see them approaching the C7 since they have looong ties with the schools. But football is not going to the MWC. No ways shape or form.

    • Ballsdeep27
      January 12, 2013 at 3:45 am


  16. Joe Crum
    January 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Uconn should just drop football and beg the C7 to let them in.

    • Jeff
      January 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm

      Just drop football. Yeah that is a great idea. The state of Connecticut has pumped over $100 million into a football stadium and an on campus football workout facility. That investment is a long term commitment to UConn football.

      • Ballsdeep27
        January 12, 2013 at 3:44 am

        Sunk cost at this point.

      • Joe Crum
        January 12, 2013 at 5:32 am

        Those seem to be turning out to be two very bad investment decisions.

        • Jack
          January 12, 2013 at 6:27 am

          Yeah, going to the Fiesta Bowl really shows their lack of success. Long term commitment.

          • Joe Crum
            January 12, 2013 at 2:55 pm

            UConn comitted those dollars before the Big East imploded. With the current state of the Big East and a crappy TV contract a certainty, those dollars don’t look well spent these days. No one will watch the football and no one will care about the basketball of whatever conference the remains of the Big East becomes.

          • Jack
            January 13, 2013 at 10:56 am

            I disagree. All UConn fans will watch basketball no matter what conference they play in. And the New Big East is going to be a very big draw for the large markets they serve. The money will follow the demand. And finally, this Bloodhound is a stooge. Of course the Catholic 7 want UConn and Cincy to follow the exodus. They bring high quality basketball. Not going to happen. UConn is better than that and will bring success to an all-sport conference.

        • Barry Cousins
          January 12, 2013 at 6:42 am

          I disagree Joe Crum. UConn has a promising football future. They need to keep focused on getting to The ACC, Big 10 or Big 12. They are a valuable addition to any league,especially one wanting to put their cable TV footprint in New England.

          • Joe Crum
            January 12, 2013 at 2:39 pm

            The ACC is already in NE. But I hear BC to the B1G next time they expand. Blau said so.

  17. Dan Mitt
    January 11, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Mark, how do you explain the UConn AD’s statement????

  18. Guy
    January 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Yep, Aresco is a dead man walking.

    How about that F’nGoNuts poster?

    Who’s the dead driver now? You’re an idiot to think that guy is doing his best to save the Big East.

  19. Joker
    January 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    UConn’s AD already stated there is no truth to Blaudschun’s story. I think someone from the Cathlic schools is feeding a line here.

    • SJGMoney
      January 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Ding, ding ,ding. Blauds has his few connections still deep in the old, moldy Big East. Someone at Providence is feeding him this garbage.

  20. Stu
    January 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Why not the football programs just start fresh and form an all-sports conference? Looks like there are folks interested. The MWC has a poor media deal and have been adding in too many other schools, splitting the pie too much. Form a new one, selectively invite schools like Boise, BYU and UNLV, perhaps Fresno and you’d have a pretty decent hoops and football conference.

    • Ed
      January 12, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Boise, UNLV and Fresno are already in the Mt. West conference, why would they go to some half baked imaginary conference on the other side of the country that has NO media deal?

      They already kicked that idea to the curb when they said goodby to the NBE.

  21. commonesnes
    January 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Given UCONN and Cincy’s stated desire to move to the ACC or Big 12 I see no reason to help them park their program temporarily. Any tv contract benefits would be lost the moment these teams leave. If Xavier is added there wouldn’t be a great tv market loss in not having Cincy. If they were to be permitted to join they should be required to agree to a BIG exit fee.

  22. RealTalk
    January 11, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    This guy’s a complete tool with no inside info or sources, yet he gets all these ridiculous hits from naive readers. So the C7 would take Cincy and UConn and not Memphis, a top 10 nationally recognized program, which would bring more money to the conference overall? Yeah right Jersey Guy. Keep telling people lies.

    • fin
      January 28, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      The Catholic 7 have no ties with memphis and uconn and Cinci potentially work in their footprint and appeal to their fans.

      What Mark suggest makes sense…you…not so much.

    • NovaNation
      February 2, 2013 at 12:06 pm

      If UCONN and Cincy decide to depart with the C7, then the Big East can be completely dissolved. The only thing keeping the Big East from complete desolution is two BE football playing universities. The issue is, what does UCONN and Cincy do with their football teams, at least until they can jump to the next conference offer which includes all sports. Even if that happens, win-win for everyone involved, except for USF, and anyone else trying to come to a now dissolved Big East.

  23. Big Shot Bob
    January 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Aresco should quit. Why he would want to help his future enemies. What he is doing makes no sense. Tell these schools to leave. He should not continue to give them leverage.

    • Joker
      January 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Tell who to leave? If UConn, Cincy, USF etc. leave, there’s no one left except Tulane and East Carolina.

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