Big East On The Way To Becoming Hoops Only Conference?


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With Syracuse and Pitt selling out and heading to the ACC, the Big East is in serious jeopardy of disbanding as a football conference; especially if the rumors are true that UConn and Rutgers will soon follow suit.  With football being at the forefront of these super conference realignments, the most competitive basketball conference in the country is losing elite programs, but could still survive as a hoops only league.

It is sad that because Big East football is so pathetic, the best basketball conference in the nation will experience a major face lift.  Let’s play a game of what if…

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If UConn and Rutgers follow Syracuse and Pitt to the ACC, that will leave five Big East football programs for the future (there is a 27-month clause for a school to leave the conference so the current core could still be in tact for another two years); West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, and TCU who joins the conference for the 2012 season.  The Big East would have to lure at least three schools to keep a somewhat, but not really respectable football league together that would woefully struggle trying to compete against the new mega-conferences.

Baylor and Iowa State have been thrown out as possible replacements since they figure to be the outcasts as the Big 12 gets ripped apart with the likely scenario of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State heading to the Pac-12, soon to be Pac-16.  Memphis is another option even though their football program is an absolute joke.  Central Florida and Marshall could also be possibilities.

It would not be the end of the world if the Big East does completely disband as a football conference.  Say West Virginia and Louisville go to the SEC, Cincinnati and South Florida can head back to Conference USA while TCU sticks in the Mountain West Conference or maybe becomes the SEC’s 16th team.  Sure that means the conference would lose a couple more basketball powerhouses, but think of what would be left.

brad stevens butlerThe basketball only Big East would still have Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Notre Dame, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, and DePaul.  Then say the conference tries to pluck some of the top Atlantic 10 programs; Xavier and Temple would be my first choices but Dayton and Richmond would maybe be in play too.  Or… how about Butler?  They would all make sense geographically and from a catholic school standpoint, are yearly NCAA Tournament caliber teams, and would probably jump at the opportunity to join a tougher conference that would grant them more exposure and of course, a bigger payday compared to what they currently receive.

That would still be a highly competitive ten or twelve team basketball league.  It obviously wouldn’t pack the punch of the traditional Big East but I don’t think any set-up will that doesn’t include Syracuse, Pitt, and UConn.  (How’s that for a triple negative in a sentence?)  I also think it would be a better league and make more sense than replacing Syracuse, Pitt, UConn, and Rutgers with Memphis, TCU, Baylor, and Iowa State.

Being a basketball junkie and Big East hoops fanatic, I obviously hate all this super conference realignment crap taking place throughout college athletics since most of these moves water down the basketball being played in the conference (the new loaded ACC being the lone exception.)  I hate it even more that headliner programs like Syracuse, Pitt, and likely UConn are leaving behind their great tradition in the Big East for greener pastures.

But the landscape of college athletics is changing whether hoops fans like it or not.  So we too must adapt.  And a ten or twelve team Big East basketball conference of the eight non-football schools plus some sort of combination of Xavier, Temple, Butler, Richmond, and Dayton might be the best solution to keep Big East among the top leagues in college hoops.

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft on the web.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

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