As the leaves turn and the frost begins to nip at your rose bushes (I took creative writing in 7th grade) the air is filled with the roars of victory or the groans of defeat, depending on what side of the scoreboard your team ends up on during any given Saturday. One pass, pick or kick and your squad can still be in contention for the playoffs. This is the scene on many division III campuses throughout the country. Division I-A.. um excuse me.. FBS? You have to look through the muddied lens of corrupt recruiting, greedy bowl organizers and the latest cloud hanging over the sport, conference realignment.
As fans of teams, conferences and maybe most important rivalries try to keep up, schools are busy searching for the nearest life raft in a sea of uncertainty. This whole mess starts and ends because of the one thing that has long corrupted college athletics, money. And in the end the leagues, as pointed out by the great Yahoo Sports writer Dan Wetzel http://tinyurl.com/42ybpqm, have no one to blame but themselves.
Here is snippet of Wetzel’s article in which he points the finger right back at the conferences, including the Big East:
the Big 12 and Big East all but assured their demise when, back in 2008, they joined the Big Ten and Pac-10 to block a proposal by the SEC and ACC for a four-team playoff (a plus-one).
The commissioners, and the campus leaders they answer to, never saw a playoff for what it was – not just a better postseason system, but a lifeline that offered them the diversified revenue streams and competitive stability that could have helped assure their survival.
Another way of looking at it is to use the reverse of the famous scene from Good Will Hunting.
Big East Schools Looking to Flea: It is your fault…
Big East: I know
BESLTF: No, it IS your fault.
Big East: Shut up Pitt… I know
BESLTF: Listen to me Marinatto, it IS your fault
Big East: Don’t mess with me, not you Syracuse! (crumbles weeping into the arms of East Carolina)
The Big 12 in a second round of desperately trying to keep its league together has gotten much more proactive and told Commissioner Dan Beebe to take a hike. They’ve also poached TCU from the Big East before the Frogs even pulled out a map to see what town the University of South Florida is in. In response, it seems the schools are the ones pulling the strings in the Big East at this point as well, giving permission to Marinatto and crew expand to a 12 team football league.
Notice how their has been little to no mention of the sport that gave the Big East its brand or of the showcase in Madison Square Garden that for many throughout the nation serves as the official start of March Madness. No, basketball has taken a backseat to the real money grabber on the gridiron. Somebody told me (so it has to be true) that Kentucky football brings in twice as much cash as Kentucky hoops. If Adolph Rupp would have known that he might be remembered alongside greats like Vince Lombardi and the Wildcats might have put more guys in the NFL than Florida and LSU combined. Such is the atmosphere of today’s college athletics. So get ready to trade in the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry on the hard court for Boise State-Air Force on a crisp fall night in Colorado Springs.
The next step is where does this leave basketball only schools like PC? Do they sit by and wait for the commish to put them in a cozy, coast to coast, 16 team basketball version of the Big East. Or do they get proactive and get on board with G-Town, St. John’s, Xavier and other hoops heavy schools suddenly left out of the conversation in hopes of protecting their big conference brand.
In the meantime we’ll have to sit by watching the musical chairs that has become conference realignment. Oh, and get pumped for that Friars-Broncos showdown at MSG in March.