Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Big East meetings: Whistling in the dark?
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PAUL, SONJA, SCOOTER, RODNEY and MAX AND BERTIE..THE WONDER HAMSTERS.
Big East commisioner John Marinatto just might be feeling like General George Custer these days. The Indians are coming...masked as the Big 10...and they've got plenty of arrows (dollars).
Big East athletic directors and coaches headed to Jacksonville early this week to converge and confab on the league and the future. If the circumstances felt eerily similar to the meeting seven years ago when the league was raided by the ACC and Miami, Va.Tech, and Boston College left...consider the future.
The Big East will likely be raided by another war party in the future. This tribe is called the Big 10 and they are considering the scalps of Pittsburgh, Rutgers, UConn, Syracuse and Notre Dame. Although a snatch and grab of all these schools is unlikely, defection by two or more could have the grim reaper walking down the Big East sidewalk.
And, as it is so often anymore...it's all about the Benjamins. The green stuff. The coffer fillers. Member schools in the Big 10 fare much better financially than their Big East associates. The ESPN package is worth a bilion dollars. The Big East...well, not nearly as much.
We deal with women's sports here at CARDINAL COUPLE. A Big East defection will rock the men's basketball and football programs the most. But, consider Big East women's basketball without say...a UConn or Rutgers. Big East softball missing a Notre Dame or the league's tournament champion Syracuse? Track and field and swimming without the strong prescence of the Irish and the Orange? (As far as Pitt goes...don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out. When's the last time Pitt won anything of consequence except for the Dave Wannstadt lottery?)High on the hill...staring down on what is definitely a pro sports town...Pittsburgh is the only away football tailgate trip I've ever been to where the NFL leather jackets and team jersey logos outnumbered the college team's.
When the battle begins, the Big East will return the favor and go shopping for replacements. It's hard to buy a Camry when you've been driving a Lexus but there are schools that are probably on the addition list.
Depending on the extent of pilfering, these schools would seem to rank as the (3) logical contenders to change affilitations and conference logos.
1) Memphis. The scorned lover back when the Big East expanded last time...the folks down on Beale Street still have an upside this time around. Strong TV market. Successful men's basketball program. A football stadium that can hold 70,000 fans. And Graceland. Ribs and Mud Island. Casinos nearby.
2) East Carolina. They love their football in Greenville and if football is the transmission to the Big East vehicle...you could do a lot worse by adding the Pirates to the drive train. Basketball...well, mediocre basketball teams in the Big East are a dime a dozen (see Rutgers, Seton Hall, South Florida. OK, you get the picture.) Adding another is a moot point at this juncture.
3) Central Florida. Media, media and location. Successes in football and a desire to grow. They are considered by some sources the "Louisville of the late ninties" a university on the verge of exploding into national prominence and growth. Whether they have a Tom Jurich type at the controls flying the athletic department plane is uncertain...but AD's are susceptible to career changes. Ask Wood Selig.
You may differ with these prognosticated picks. The Big 10 may decide schools like Missouri or Bellarmine are more lucrative. Aliens could land tomorrow and return Barack Obama to the mothership. But, something's going to happen down the road and, as usual...he who displays the most marbles usually wins the game. We'll see who the Big 10 adds to their pillage sack.
C. Viv Stringer and Geno Auriemma playing Northwestern and Illinois instead of Louisville and DePaul? It just could happen...