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

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.

Big East Expansion: Spurned by BYU Edition

Like the Pioneers, Big East Commish John Marinatto Keeps Heading West, In Spite of Hardships

As most know, the Big East (furthermore notated as Big “East”) has been courting a full Western annex to appease the whims of the Boise State Broncos (the linchpin in the conference keeping its AQ status). This Frankenstein-like setup would include Boise, Air Force, SMU, Houston and a fifth team, plus UCF in the west to complement the traditional eastern division. That fifth team was supposed to be currently-independent BYU, who everyone thought would jump at the chance to be an automatic qualifier. Yeah, about that.

So now what? Well, there’s the logical next step of inviting Temple. Though the Owls were tossed out of the Big “East” back in 2004, there’s rumblings all around for them to return. Temple sure wants it, as does Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. There’s also the simple option of ECU, who applied for football-only membership back in September. And of course, Villanova, who’s already a league member in every other sport, is still pretty interested in making the jump. But why would the conference be interested in any of these logical choices?

No, instead, the Big “East” is probably gunning for the least logical option this side of Hawaii: San Diego State.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Aztecs are a fine program in both football and basketball (invite for that sport unlikely, but humor me) — a real rising power the likes of which would’ve been an enterprising addition under better circumstances, honestly. But logistically, think about this one for a second: schools traveling from Florida to Idaho, Cincinnati to San Diego, New Jersey to Colorado. If invited for basketball, you’d potentially have to watch Providence head to Southern California every other year (a 3,039-mile trip according to Google Maps). Regardless though, the travel costs associated with a conference of this size and breadth would be downright staggering, and unfair to anyone involved with the program, from fans to athletes.

We’re still in wait-and-see mode at the moment, but if this happens, the Big “East” may as well be a conglomerate of independents who happen to schedule each other for convenience purposes. If the league decides to go to 16 teams in football, I’ve heard Warsaw Tech is available.