In the end, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto can guarantee one thing…his legacy is sealed. He will be remembered as the poster boy for what the BCS Gods created back when they seized control of college football back in the late 1990s. Like a puppet manipulated by a bored puppeteer, masochistically enjoying the absurdity of the gyrations they are setting in motion, down below, Marinatto has put together the oddest collection of football schools to ever be assembled, has overseen the dismantling of a once-proud basketball league, and will, in the end, have achieved nothing more than a couple more years of BCS golden eggs before the reality of post BCS reorganization leaves the Big East a collection of dissimilar universities and athletics programs cut off from both BCS money and access. And it would be funny, if it weren’t such a sad reflection of what college football has become.
Personally, my friend and colleague Danny Whitford expressed a lot of how I feel about the BCS in his not-so-subtle, written rage against the machine which he published on Bonesville the other day. The BCS has stolen much more than college football from us. They have stolen money that would otherwise benefit our university and ultimately our kids, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and friends. And, they have done it in plain site, unchecked. Hopefully the recent “application” by the Mountain West Conference will be a catalyst to force anti-trust investigations (doubt it) or at least force the BCS to abide by its own rules (which they will just “tweak” again to their own end). I am pulling hard for the MWC, which brings me back to my main intent in this post, which is take a look into my highly-biased crystal ball and predict what the Big East will be in, say, 3-4 years.
A couple of caveats before I move on:
1) I understand that Navy is planning to join the Big East mess as well, but I believe they will string that along, possibly, till the BCS tips what they are going to do in 2014. Navy, will NOT budge on its scheduling desires and financially, doesn’t need the BCS money. For them, it is about access to the BCS Bowls. They get a pass from me.
2) So that my biases are know, I like: Rutgers, , Boise State, and SMU; I dislike: Louisville, Central Florida, and Cincinnati; and I am agnostic to South Florida, San Diego State, Connecticut and Houston.
So here goes…a look at the schools in 3-4 years:
Rutgers: ACC continues its every-so-often raid of the Big East member schools and Rutgers finally gets out…and thrives in the ACC. Rutgers, which has made so much headway in keeping that NJ talent home and with a true East Coast league, they will continue that trend while their basketball will get better. With its exit, the Big East will no longer have a single member that was part of the original football conference…none. ACC is the right place for Rutgers.
Connecticut: ACC adds U-Conn as well to continue to build the premiere hoops conference in the land, add to a full distribution of northeast schools (to go with Rutgers and Boston College), and solidify the full East Coast TV market. The Huskies breathe a sigh of relief and continue to be in a BCS “connected” conference.
Louisville: Big 10 follows up and plucks Louisville to round out its expansion, allowing the Cardinals to continue in a BCS-connected league. They will not be a great fit in the Big 12, but give WVU a more proximal conference partner without extending the league further East. Louisville (and WVU) will need that BCS money to off-set a huge expansion in travel-related expenses in the new conference and will have to overcome being the odd branded teams in the league. While they will have problems in the new conference, they still will greatly benefit from being out of the Big East…so they go in the winners group here.
Central Florida: As much as I hate UCF, they clearly are a winner here, in relative terms. They have a mediocre program on the field and literally bring nothing to the Big East. They, do, however, satisfy ESPN’s desire to have a team in the Disney market, so I guess that is their value. The biggest dividends for UCF will be seen in recruiting as they will now be able to get players who otherwise were going to go to USF and they will be able to compete (ala Cincinnati) in this watered down, reconstituted league. Once the Big East re-organizes again in 2015, they will be a logical fit regionally, so it makes sense all the way around.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats are sort of defacto winners in as much as they are now the cream of the crappy crop in the league having one a share of 3 of the last 4 Big East Titles. They were not going to get a better offer than what they have and have showed what the BCS money can mean for a team that was absolutely horrible prior to their inclusion in the BE. They also will become the top hoops school after UConn and Louisville leave. Consider Cincinnati the proverbial King of the Dipshits (go to the 3:21 mark of this video to get the gist) in 3-4 years.
Boise State: Of all the teams to join, this one is the mind-blower. They gain absolutely nothing – even in the short term – that they did not already have and may even be giving up what they are supposedly gaining from this move. They already by virtue of their past few seasons of performance have access to the BCS games, access to the BCS monies, and are in a league that allows them to not only continue to win, but do so in the context of a reasonable regional alignment. While BSU clearly flexed its muscles by dictating who the Big East would add, they have done so at their own peril. Prediction: BSU doesn’t even win the Big East next year or the year after, fails to go to a BCS Bowl Game, receives less money from the BCS then they do now (based on the fact that No BE team is likely to qualify in the next two years) and will find themselves outside looking in again in 2014, except now saddled with more expensive travel, no rivalries that matter, recruiting restrictions that would have kept them from signing a bunch of their current players, and a schedule that is out of regional touch with its fans.
Houston: A new coach, no Case Keenum, and a bigger travel schedule will not yield what they think they are getting. They will not compete well in the new Big East and save their travel partner in SMU have absolutely nothing in common with the new league. They will need to save their BCS money to off-set what will be sky-rocketing costs going forward for them. Hopefully they can ramp up that rivalry with San Diego State University as they say good-bye to a nice, regional and football-worthy rivalry with Tulsa. They will notice quick that the BE television contract is not much of an improvement and that without being in C-Texas anymore, even the Texas market will be tuned out on game days as they won’t tune into a Houston-Connecticut game. Finally, the fans will revolt once they see Houston not playing in a Texas-based league. The program could very well see itself disenfranchised by the rest of the state totally. THERE WAS A REASON that TCU quickly bailed on the Big East to stay in a Texas-centered league. Read the 5th paragraph of that linked article…gives some insight as to why the Horned Frogs are so relieved they didn’t go to the Big East and also what Houston and SMU will be dealing with immediately.
South Florida: Quietly, one of the most hurt teams in this mess. They were actually on the climb in Florida in regards to recruits and in terms of consistency. They were able to be a highly competitive player in the league and despite some setbacks this season, were trending up on the field and in the ESPN love they were getting. With UCF on board, the recruiting pie will be cut one further in Florida and it won’t be Miami, Florida, or FSU that feels that ripple. Further, with BSU now in the league, ESPN will have to get behind them…it is the league’s only chance to be a TV money maker. South Florida’s trip back to oblivion will be well on its way by 2014.
Southern Methodist: Like Houston, the Mustangs are making a huge mistake with the move. Once the BCS resets its rules, they will again have no access, again have no BCS monies and now be stuck without any interesting rivalries (other than the one they already have with Houston) and be saddled with bigger travel expenses. And, by the way, they were not very good to start with, and even though June Jones is stuck there for at least 2012, he has made it clear he wants to move on so they will be with a new coach as they prepare to lose their brief AQ existence. They will mire in the bottom half of a league that they have no fan or geographic connection with.
San Diego State University: I know some will feel like SDSU should be a winner here…cause they are picked out of nowhere (well, BSU told the Big East to add them) and get to be in an AQ conference. If you feel that way, you have not acknowledged what the Big East actually is now…crap. So, for a small school, SDSU may have actually done major damage to their program in the long run. BSU will likely still have the clout to bail out of the BE in 2014 (I am positive BSU has a clause in their BE contract to get out free) when it all falls apart but SDSU almost certainly will not. They are somewhat committing program suicide for a short term cash boon. Accountants better watch the books there, because someone there is counting on cleaning out the accounts over the next two years. SDSU has no draw – despite its impressive football success recently, it hasn’t translated to fans watching that big ole San Diego TV market. The Aztecs barely draw 30,000 a game…no one, no one tunes in to see them as it is, yet alone to play a collection of uninteresting, poor drawing teams all the way across the country. They will not benefit at all in recruiting because east coast kids are not heading there and they are not going to pull Texas or California elites looking to play in the Big East. This one is a disaster. Look for SDSU to be considering a drop down in 2015 OR if BSU has left, they may get kicked out of whatever is left of the Big East.
I know a lot of us wanted to be in the Big East, but really, with the BCS changes coming, we are no worse off. Geographically, the previous Big East made a ton of sense, and I suppose, should we be offered as the last team in, we should probably take it based on geography. But, on principle, I do not want to join it now. I would rather wait till it falls apart and then be part of a new configuration of eastern teams (and would prefer that Marshall and Southern Miss be part of it).
Until then, I am going to watch in hopes that my predictions come true and will enjoy watching the dysfunction that Marinatto and the pack of Big East idiots have put together. Can’t wait to see that Central Florida-San Diego State game on a network near me. Or…that big clash between Cincinnati and Boise State on the Blue Turf for all the marbles…ooooh yeah!