Conference Realignment: Would the ACC Want to Add Louisville?

Louisville Expressed Some Interest in the ACC Last Week, But Is the Feeling Mutual?

With the evolving landscape going on around the country, it’s always wise for any league to keep its options open on the expansion front. So regardless of whether or not Florida State (and possible friends) leave the ACC in the coming weeks, months or years, the conference should still be keeping tabs on who’s looking to make a move. Lucky for them, there are several possibilities, should they ever decide to pull the conference realignment trigger again. Specifically, we’re talking about Louisville.

Let’s review. In the past week-and-a-half, the following events have occurred:

  • Big East commissioner John Marinatto was relieved of his duties, courtesy of a group of fed-up universities under his leadership
  • The WAC — which houses Boise State‘s non-football sports — lost nearly every one of its teams
  • As a result of those first two items, Boise State’s now getting a bit nervous about its move to the Big East, and may just abort the mission altogether
  • And then all that Florida State business with the Big 12

So as it stands, this appears to be the perfect storm for a Louisville program that’s suddenly the all-sports flag-bearer in an increasingly fractured Big East to restate its intentions to head elsewhere. Obviously they’ve broadcast some desire to mosey on over to the Big 12, but last week also dropped another potential landing place — the ACC. Continue reading

Pittsburgh Sues Big East to Join ACC in 2013 (No Action From Syracuse Yet)

 

Pittsburgh Feels It Needs to Sue the Big East In Order to Secure a 2013 Exit

Pittsburgh‘s decided that it’s a bit displeased by the fact it’s still in the Big East, so they’ve sued their former conference for a 2013 release. Says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“The University of Pittsburgh filed suit against The Big East Conference in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas this afternoon for allowing two opponents — 2011 Rose Bowl winner Texas Christian University and 2012 Orange Bowl winner West Virginia University — to withdraw early and without penalty from the conference.

 

Conference officials’ decision, the complaint states, has cost the University of Pittsburgh lost ticket sales, buyout fees and game fees for two valuable home football games those opponents scheduled, then abandoned, leaving Pitt scrambling to find replacements at additional cost.”

 

So what’s the impetus here? I mean, obviously Pittsburgh wants out and would like to join their ACC brethren sooner rather than later, but does this mean that process is on hold now? Several times before he was removed from his position, former Big East commish John Marinatto stated that he was working to negotiate Pittsburgh and Syracuse‘s release. But no word on an official end date. Now, with Boise State suddenly a bit scared off, the league’s no longer on the “solid footing” it believed itself to be. Given all that, there may now be a real motivating factor to keep them as long as they can (until 2014). Continue reading

Big East’s John Marinatto Resigns/Gets Fired: Or “How the ACC Expanded to 14 Teams”

John Marinatto Was Forced to Resign Because He Never Knew How to Proactively Stop the Bleeding in the Big East

By now you’ve heard all about Big East commissioner (and Providence pasta connoisseur) John Marinatto’s departure. Yet, rather than blame him for the league’s failure to be reactive in the conference realignment game, we’re seeing an awful lot of charming eulogies of a man. Obviously, as a Syracuse fan happy to be on board with the ACC, this is aggravating, and downright false. Cincinnati and Connecticut have already issued statements that they’re pretty thrilled to be in the league, apparently trying to cover things up even further.

Based on the coverage around the web, this will likely be news to everyone, but Marinatto and his Providence predecessor Mike Trangehse (and to a lesser extent the late Dave Gavitt, another Friar, himself) were not the most forward-thinking of fellows. Rather than proactive, they were reactive. Instead of being football focused in a marketplace that increasingly called for such an approach, the Big East’s commissioners decided that running a basketball league was more important. Even when they had a football league, it was all about reactionary moves. Why take Penn State proactively, when you can be reactive and invite Miami, Temple, Rutgers, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. At the time three of those five were great gets. But as always, the league fell short of becoming all it could be on the gridiron. Continue reading

The Big East Scheduling Disaster of 2012

The Big East's Latest Disaster Involves Filling Out the 2012 Football Schedule

As noted recently, West Virginia‘s confirmed departure from the Big East in 2012 creates a major issue for the conference’s remaining seven members — most notably (and importantly) for future ACC schools, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. Since both schools now need to fill two spots, and both have already used up their one excusable FCS tilt, things are actually looking a bit dire. But then this nugget of information was brought to everyone’s attention:

“WVU “will use its reasonable best efforts to help Big East members schedule additional football games for the 2012-13 season.” Specifically, WVU will help Pitt and Syracuse schedule a Big 12 opponent provided the two schools make a request by Feb. 15. However, if the Big East finds a football member for the 2012 season, that rids WVU of all scheduling matchmaker responsibility.”

Odd, yet, fantastic news. Which brings us back to the original discussion: Will Boise State be joining the league in 2012? If so, you can pencil both Pitt and Syracuse in for trips to Idaho. But if not, then this clause above goes into effect. Only problem is there may not be any Big 12 teams left to schedule. As of right now, the only non-BE, FBS teams still looking to fill a space are: Continue reading

Conference Realignment: Mountain West, Conference USA to Merge

The Mountain West and Conference USA Are Forming a Completely New League

As has been suspected for awhile, the thoroughly picked-over Mountain West and Conference USA will be combining forces to form one new league — so legally, it’s not a merger, if for nothing else than to allow for a better seat at the bargaining table with ESPN for television rights. The yet-to-be-named league currently has 16 set to play for football, with 15 for all other sports, since Hawaii‘s a football-only member. Surprisingly, the bigger news out of all this is actually contained within the press release on the announcement. It reads:

“The structure of the new conference will likely include:
· Membership of 18 to 24 universities “

So there’s that. Where are these other schools coming from? Well, given that the statement also said the league would span from Hawaii to the Atlantic seaboard (take that, Marinatto), the options are pretty much limitless from the WAC, Sun Belt and MAC. But would any of the schools in those three conferences really want to trade in their (mostly) regional conference status for an unwieldy, super-duper conference setup? For the ‘Belt, teams are already dealing with financial issues involving the postseason and general travel, so why tack on more? And most of all, if there’s another move (there will be), and any of the more important conferences get raided, there’s no way any school in SuperDuperConference (the SDC) says no to an invite to the current BCS leagues. Continue reading

Big East Expansion: Navy-Finally-Says-Yes Edition

The Big East Makes Another Addition: And This Time, It's Navy

After a strung-out courtship that apparently lasted 10 years according to Navy Athletic Director Chuck Gladchuck, the Midshipmen are finally part of the Big East (/Country/Continent/Least, etc.)… in 2015. While I’m always one to applaud the tradition of our service academies as major college football programs, it’s still difficult to see what this addition truly gives the “country’s first national football conference” (source: John Marinatto, who also believes Syracuse, Pitt, TCU and West Virginia were wrong in leaving). While Navy surely adds more tradition than most of the current conference schools, what it lacks is success to go along with it. Yes, the Midshipmen have been to eight bowl games in the last nine years, but just nine bowl games during the previous 125 years of play. And if for some reason, their triple-option attack just can’t measure up anymore (we saw glimpses of this during 2011), Navy could end up as an annual bottom-dweller.

So now what? For the conference to truly be a “national,” coast-to-coast league, the final addition almost HAS to be west of the Mississippi. Remember, the Big East will likely have 13 teams in 2013, but then drop down to 10 in 2014 with the departures of SU, Pitt and WVU. Navy bumps them back up to 11, but with seven teams in the Eastern time zone, two in the Central, one in the Mountain and one in the Pacific, any “Western” division likely needs another team in the western part of the country. Still, we’ll dissect some quick odds on the remaining candidates, taking an open look at the country: Continue reading

Big East Expansion: Who’s Looking to Start a New Basketball Conference?

Could Georgetown Be Stirring Up Another Big East Exodus?

Apologizing for the slight divergence from our regularly scheduled programming (football) in advance:

In what has become a weekly saga around these parts, we take a look at our (and by our, I mean Syracuse‘s) former stomping grounds (the Big East), which look more like a graveyard most days. While addition has been on everyone’s mind lately, it appears that some more future defections could lead to subtraction in the future (shockingly?). Says the Chronicle of Higher Education: “…two Big East members (that) have had conversations about leaving the conference to start a new league built around traditional basketball powers.” This is, of course, of no surprise to anyone who’s ever been on the inside of the hulking, slow behemoth known as the Big East. But the bigger questions still loom — who are the two Benedict Arnolds, soon to be the “new Pitt and Syracuse?” and if these schools were to form a basketball superconference, who else would be on board?

Obviously, the additions of schools like SMU, Houston and UCF to the basketball league do nothing for the overall quality but provide additional punching bags for the likes of Georgetown and Louisville. Since most of the Big East currently pads their out of conference schedule in advance of what’s usually a brutal 18-game league schedule, these additional bottom-feeders really don’t help. We can surmise that multiple basketball schools are unhappy about this, but which ones are so unhappy they’d consider defection? Keep in mind that candidates will almost definitely be of the league’s old guard, and won’t have a football program (or much of one to speak of). They also won’t be Providence, because John Marinatto and the school hold joint ownership of the conference (metaphorically). Which leads us to Georgetown and St. John’s. Why them, but not say Seton Hall or Marquette? Simple: TV revenue.

Once again, we know that schools are unhappy with this setup, but you have to look at which ones possess enough value to attract other big basketball schools away from their respective conferences and into the “Roundball League” (or whatever probably horrendous name it adopts). Since the Hoyas and Red Storm deliver parts of the New York and D.C. markets, these are your best options. We avoid Villanova since not only do they fail to be the hottest game in town, but their football program is looking to move up in the world (not possible in a basketball-only league). With these two main players set, the following Big East teams probably jump at the chance to join up: Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul. Assuming they aim for 12, who else do they grab?

In this scenario, we assume Memphis and Temple are pushed by the Big East failing to extend an invite (highly plausible). Recognizing the sinking ship they’d remain a part of, ‘Nova would finally jump to this league, as would Providence. For the final two spots (and to keep it semi-regional), I’d encourage George Mason and VCU. What you’re left with is a 16-team basketball superconference, whose weak link would probably still be DePaul (surely the Demon Deacons don’t find this as entertaining as I do). To be honest, they’d probably get just as many bids as the ACC for the NCAA Tournament every year (if not more). A frightening thought, but far too important to ignore.

If this all comes to fruition (we’re far from that right now), who’d you like to see in this basketball-only superleague? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.