Monday, September 19, 2011

Can the Big East Be Saved?

The founder of the Big East conference recently died. And at the same time, his conference was dealt a critical blow. With Pitt and Syracuse on their way out to the ACC can the Big East conference be saved? Would anybody want to latch on now in its fallen state?

The conference does still have the reigning men's basketball champ. Even with the losses of two power basketball programs, it remains one of the marquee basketball conferences.

However, football is hanging by life support. With TCU coming on board, they would be left with just 7 football teams. West Virginia is the only one that has a significant long-term national reputation.

A number of schools, such as UCF, are eager to move up to the ranks of the "BCS" leagues. However, should the league implode, or lose its BCS auto-bid, things could be even worse for them. They may want to play it slow.

The first step would be to get some of the football independents on speed dial. Notre Dame would be the obvious coup. They have an interest in having a place to park their non-football sports. They may be willing to add football to help save the league. Or they may just decided to jump to the Big-10.

Navy is in the right geographical footprint, and could easily join as a football-only school. They have a large following and a record of recent success that would help with the BCS standings.

BYU is a new independent with recent football success and a national following. They are not close, but they are eager for the cachet that being in an auto-bid conference would give them. By joining in football only, they get the advantage without having to undo their recent paring of sports in the WCC. If things don't go well, they can go back to being independent.

Hawaii could be another alternative. Their football team is separate from the other sports and may be willing to move. Geographically, it would be a huge mess, but a trip from connecticut to Hawaii in November doesn't sound all that bad.

The football only schools would help strengthen the BCS credentials of the conference, without adding to the large number of basketball only schools. However, there are still basketball schools that need to be replaced, especially if Connecticut also leaves.

This is where the Big-12 comes in. Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor. Invite them now. If Oklahoma jumps ship, have the press conference within the hour. Or better yet, have them join before. That way the Big East is on the offensive and can have more latitude with other schools.

In basketball, the big east is already the first "superconference." Will it stay so in football?

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