The final issues should be hammered out on Wednesday, some of the financial numbers still need to be worked on, but at the end of the day the deal should be signed and the divorce between the Big East football and Catholic 7 will be official.
Both sides can make their announcements on Thursday.
And then what?
If I am Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco, who has worked his butt off for the past six months to make things work, this is what I would do.
1. Announce that Big East football is moving on and the Catholic 7 group is also moving on and that you wish them well.
2. Turn next week’s Big East tournament–the last model off the original line which was created 34 years ago, into an Irish Wake. Tell stories, shake hands, laugh and promote a good week of basketball for a great conference taking its last bow on Broadway.
Celebrate the Big East as it was. As it is. And as it can be. Embrace the Catholic 7 group and wish them well and mean it.
3. Gather the new troops together–UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Memphis, Houston, Tulane, SMU, East Carolina, Central Florida, and Navy. Give a wink to Tulsa and say, be patient
Tell them they can be the best of the rest–meaning the WAC, the Mountain West, Conference USA, the Sun Belt and all the others who aren’t part of the BCS 5. And that in any given year, they can have one or two or three teams in football or basketball which can look anyone in the eye and play on a big stage.
4. Give the name of Big East to the Catholic 7 with your blessing and baptize a new league which will include the characteristics and profile of its members.
Start with the name Metro–as in the once fledgling and ambitious Metro Conference, which passed away 18 years ago. Look at the schools and the cities. Cincinnati, Tampa, Philadelphia, Memphis, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Washington-Baltimore (Navy), Orlando, Hartford (UConn). Only East Carolina is Metro stretch.
Go beyond that. Keep the Big Name. Call it an Athletic Conference. BMAC.
People will call it the Big Mac, which works. Go beyond that and quickly sign up McDonald’s as a sponsor and partner. That brings in money and recognition and a younger target audience. Have BMAC t-shirts available at McDonald’s. BMAC mugs.
If you want to go basic, Call it the Metro 10, 11 or 12 to match the number of schools in the league–but that can be risky. It should be noted that Louisville won a pair of national championships as a Metro Conference member. Memphis made it to the Final Four as a Metro Conference team.
5. Take the Basketball tournament and make it a moveable feast. Start it in Hartford for symbolism sake. But then move it to Memphis, Cincinnati, into Texas, into Florida, New Orleans, Philadelphia and even New York.
6. Promote the hell out of Memphis, Temple, UConn and Cincinnati at the start in basketball and hope that SMU and Houston revive their programs to some previous glory days. Push the upgrades at Tulane.
Talk about success of South Florida and Central Florida in basketball and how it is a work in progress.
In football, increase non-conference games prime time games. Use the new ESPN forum to stage games that people will watch. Promote the hell out of Central Florida and South Florida and talk about creating the next FSU-Florida or Miami-Florida State rival in a talent rich area.
And then step back and wait. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. Maybe the conference raids will continue and UConn and Cincinnati will take the first bus out-of-town. But with millions of dollars of Big East money in their pockets they might think about their next move.
But it will be fun. People will have a good time doing it, hoping it works.
And if doesn’t, at least you can say you gave it your best effort.© Copyright 2013 Mark, All rights Reserved. Written For: A Jersey Guy