November 27th, 2012 at 12:49 PM ^

"I think the Big East is positioning itself to become a big rival of the MAC for years to come"

There's some truth to that ... but rather than mock it (which is fun, I'll confess) let's pause and look at the college landscape for a moment.

If you're the Big East commissioner, you face a choice -- (a) fold up your tent, (b) try to rival the big boys, or (c) position yourself in a different tier.

Option (a) is a last ditch thing ... no commissioner pulling more than McDonald's wages could possibly suggest that and survive more than a day.

Let's be honest -- at this point option (b) isn't viable.  There's probably 25 (at most) schools in the upper tier of the game and they're already spoken for.  No team in that 25 who wishes to move would move to the Big East ... they'd opt for one of the emerging "super" conferences.

The stars are aligning around SEC, Big 10, Pac 12 and Big 12 ... and of those the Big 12 is probably the shakiest.  Assuming it crumbles then Texas and Oklahoma go to one of the established and the others flee to whoever will take them.

So, if you're the Big East commissioner you might well be thinking, "Well, if I can't sit at the grown-up table I can at least be the biggest kid at the folding card table." 

The trouble is there just isn't as much money at that level.  There's some entertaining football for sure, but not the money.  But that may be okay if some of those programs have decided they can't compete with the Alabamas and Michigans anyway, so stop spending so much money trying.

This kind of thing is, I think, the inevitable conclusion to the trend line we see today.  With the coming playoff scheme (4 games to start, surely going to 8 and likely 16) there will emerge 25-some-odd schools who will be plausibly in the hunt for that dance.  Football is not basketball.  There won't be a Gonzaga storybook season.

And if you think there's too much focus on money and winning now ... just wait until that system kicks in.  Those schools at the top are going to go nuts trying to stay in the discussion.  The rich will get richer and the poor poorer.

So again, if you're the Big East commisioner maybe that's your strategy -- give up trying to pretend to be an elite football conference.  Go smaller scale, focus on optimizing programs to available revenue, and be happy with that.

My two cents ... and I'm just speculating.



November 27th, 2012 at 12:53 PM ^

The Big East is positioning itself to be the best Div 1.5 conference out there. Right now there are 120+ Div IA teams (FBS). That includes schools like Michigan, with $133M budgets and even surpluses, and Tulane, which doesn't make money on sports. Why are they direct competitors?

Brian has brought this up a number of times, but when Indiana State can keep Michigan from offering FCOA scolarships your system is broken. ISU can't keep up with the Joneses, so move them to another street. I think we'll see the 64 (4 superconferences x 16 teams) teams become the new Division 1, and the rest of the current Division 1 will break off, have their own playoff, etc. Big East, Sunbelt, MAC, WAC. There ya go.


November 27th, 2012 at 2:04 PM ^

"I think we'll see the 64 (4 superconferences x 16 teams) teams become the new Division 1, and the rest of the current Division 1 will break off, have their own playoff, etc. Big East, Sunbelt, MAC, WAC."

I think that's spot on.

Two things come to my mind as I sit here desperately trying to avoid doing real work:

  1. Of those 64 teams, some (maybe up to half or more) will not likely ever really compete.  I'm thinking schools like Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Colorado ... just to name one from each conference.  They'll survive financially only because of revenue sharing.  What will be interesting is what the lower-tier teams within the super-conferences do ... will they just content themselves with the occasionally good season and the occasional tear-down-the-goalposts upset win?
  2. Imagine the SEC continuing to dominate the eventual four super-conferences ... winning NC after NC.  At what point (if ever) does the goose stop laying golden eggs?  At what point does the rest of the country shrug its shoulders and begin dismissing the whole playoff/NC thing as being too badly skewed to care about?

I certainly hope #2 does not come to pass ... but I think there's an element of that going on already.  After six straight NCs I'm starting to hear ESPN commentators bad-mouthing the SEC for their attitude and the boring nature of year-after-year NCs.


November 27th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

Re: 1, that already happens. Iowa State tore down the goalposts a year ago, Colorado and Minnesota used to be powers, and in general they may get better talent in the future because they're Div 1... but they'll also have all the other sports in the major conferences, which will be  a plus

Re: 2 - the SEC's decline has already started. Sure, they're still dominant and will be for a bit, but their single biggest advantage is already gone. Guaranteed 4 year scholarships and the amount of attention that Oversigning has gotten as a practice means that for the first time in years the SEC will have to deal with 4 and 5 star busts just like everyone else does.

Sure, there are still some advantages (Population shifts, perception, etc) but Oversigning has had more to do with their dominance than anything IMO.


November 27th, 2012 at 3:52 PM ^

They lucked into the title game this year.  Its not like they are far and away the best team each year.  Last year we really don't know if they were because they played each other in the title game.  Also the year Alabama beat Texas the Longhorns were going to hammer them if McCoy doesn't get hurt.  Regardless of what ESPN or cbssports say the SEC will not be getting 3 or 4 teams in a playoff in any year.   

Blue in Seattle

November 27th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Means each super conference sends one team.  16 teams, and you get the possibility of 3 playoff games before the NC round even starts.  Carve off a non-con game for the potential of the semi final conference championship, and each pod of 4 will send a team into the 4 conference playoffs.

This greatly increases the number of times a national audience sees the teams they want to see (16 dominant teams) in post season play.  It also eliminates the need to play Alabama the first game of the year for "votes".

No more voting, a clear path to victory, and more games worthy of television.

Now, if they can just put the conference playoffs at the home fields of the schools in the playoffs, we'll really have something worth going watching in person AND on TV.

you might not even need 9 conference games, and could drop the regular season back down to 10 games total, with two snacky cakes in the beginning (hey look at all these Big East teams?) and shift the conference schedule forward to make room for exanded playoffs, so that all the students still get their studying done.

Also, let everyone have post season practice time, and eliminate Bowls that don't support the NC playoffs.  Or at least sell tickets in the modern era, i.e. online and don't make schools fund the bowls and they'll shrivel up and die on their own.  But giving everyone extra practice without requiring a bowl game might do that on it's own.


French West Indian

November 27th, 2012 at 5:17 PM ^

...I agree that if we end up with 4 main super conferences (or whatever they're called) then the playoff would likely stay at 4 teams.

No way it would expand to 8 or 16 teams.  First of all, with conference championship games, it's already a default 8 team playoff (I'm obviously assuming some Big 12 expansion under this scenario).

Second, under a 4  super conference scenario, if you expand the playoff to include second place teams then you run the risk of having those uninteresting LSU-Alabama rematch type championship games that no one really wants to see.  For a national championship to really be interesting and have legitimacy, then it must be a game that draws national interest.  To run the risk of having two schools from the same state (or, egads, the same TV market) in the game is to great.

Lastly, a 4 team tournement with four major champions facing off has a beatuiful simplicity to it and the winner can be rightly hailed as a "Champion of Champions."  


November 27th, 2012 at 6:55 PM ^

Wait until a second place 11-1 SEC school is left out in favor of some 8-4 teams and we'll see how long the 4 team model holds up.  Just my opinion, and I'm a die-hard cynic about things ... but my sense is 4 teams won't stand ... it'll go to 8 at least.


November 27th, 2012 at 5:21 PM ^

The Big East started out as basically a regional basketball conference that had a couple of competent football teams.  Now, they are evolving into a national basketball conference that has a couple of competent football teams.

I guess that's progress.


November 27th, 2012 at 8:03 PM ^

well thought out and makes sense.  Maybe even try and secure some schools that randomly do well in baseball and basketball.   Trying to keep up with the Jones' can be like Russian Roulette for these programs....   Didn't Dave Brandon advise that only 20 Athletic Departments broke even or were in the black last year.....


November 27th, 2012 at 12:23 PM ^

East Carolina is actually a pretty fun football environment, FWIW.  Any school within minutes of the beach and having a pirate as a mascot is bound to be a fun place.



November 27th, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

As a Pirate, I agree with this. It's definitely a football school and gamedays are very fun. I think they'll compete in the Big East assuming this move helps with recruiting. I'm excited to get to watch different teams, but with that being said, I'm not a huge fan of the move. A few years ago I would have loved it, but I don't think it's much of a step up from C-USA at this point.

Perkis-Size Me

November 27th, 2012 at 12:35 PM ^

East Carolina has a quality football program as far as lower tier FBS programs go. Tulane.....meh. The Big East's days are absolutely numbered right now, and its commisioner knows it.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

The Big East is indeed fast becoming a Conference USA or MAC like conference.

It's actually pretty sad.  Especially when the Big East loses all BCS perks and becomes mediocre and not at all geographically connected it will just be a mess.  At least in the MAC schools are close together...  the Big East offers its members nothing but somewhat decent basketball and huge travel costs


November 27th, 2012 at 12:44 PM ^

Take a careful look at the Big East football roster:

UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, Tulane, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Memphis, Houston and ECU


The Big East IS Conference USA with a couple new teams thrown in the mix.


November 27th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

I remember when the Big East raided Conference USA- its sad that those Conference USA teams are now whats holding the conference together...

The ACC will likely want to replace Maryland with a shcool like Louisville or UConn- and then what happens?  

Why are school still joining the Big East- it seems like the certain instability outweighs the marginal improvements from moving "up" to the Big East...


November 27th, 2012 at 1:38 PM ^

From the ESPN article:

"Of those 13 schools, nine are former members of Conference USA, two are former Mountain West members and one is a former Mid-American Conference member."

That's just gross... If the MWC schools return do some of the schools look to rejoin Conference USA or find a new home- or will the Big Eat survive as the weirdest mid-major possible...


November 27th, 2012 at 1:47 PM ^

Weren't some of the media outlets discussing this last week? I haven't heard anything since but it sounded at the time that there was a eral possibility of the MWC pulling this all together, up to and including BYU getting back with the party. You have to think after the past couple years of genuine uncertainty that the MWC would love to be one of the last ones standing.


November 27th, 2012 at 1:40 PM ^

Just so things make sense with their new divisional alignment as well, Temple can finally put in the East division, East Carolina can be in the West Division, and Tulane can go in the East division to give the East division its rather southern focus.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:41 PM ^

The only thing keeping the Big East afloat right now is basketball.  Thier "good" football teams have either left or are going to leave.  Basketball is where it is at for that conference, and neither of these teams have good basketball programs.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:47 PM ^

So the Big East is basically Conference USA from 10 years ago and half of the ACC is the Big East from 10 or so years ago.  CUSA probably will take some more teams from the Sun Belt.  Have to think the Sun Belt may eventually go the way of the WAC.  One of the most amusing realignment stories was when Denver annpunced yesterday they were going from the WAC to the Summit, meaning they will have been in 3 conferences in 3 years.


November 27th, 2012 at 10:44 PM ^

They are collecting a bunch of mid majors who have solid programs. As bad as the big ten was this year, I don't think we're in a position to stick our noses too high in the air.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:54 PM ^

So know the Big East is at 13 teams (assuming as expected UCONN) goes to the ACC one Navy arrives.  They will have to make another move, unless they are expecting someone else to leave before then to get them back down to 12.  For the divisions I would assume East Carolina and Temple will go to the east and Tulane to the west.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:57 PM ^

are just stupid.  The Big East is now basically the old Conference USA.  The Mountain West became the old Western Athletic and the Big 12 looks more like the SWC with orphans.


November 27th, 2012 at 12:59 PM ^

"Of those 13 schools, nine are former members of Conference USA, two are former Mountain West members and one is a former Mid-American Conference member."


Might as well call in Conference USA...


November 27th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

New Mexico St. and Idaho should be happy about this as they will probably end up in a conference after this.  New Mexico St. probably in the Sun Belt after CUSA takes more teams from then and Idaho to CUSA or the MAC.


November 27th, 2012 at 1:50 PM ^

They were, but I they recommitted to the Big East, what ever that means.  One of their complaints was that they wanted more west coast schools and Tulane is that.  Wouldn't be surprised if the Big East picked off UTEP (to get into Texas) or Tulsa to eventually get back to 14.  Surprised the Big East has no taken Tulsa yet.  Three 10 win seasons since joining CUSA in 2005, only 1 losing season, and 4 division titles and one conference champion since 2005.

coastal blue

November 27th, 2012 at 1:32 PM ^

Big East, Conference USA, WAC and MWC's best teams should form together into an 18 or 20 team conference.

Play the teams in your division once, with the winner of each division playing for the championship at the home stadium of higher ranked team. 

In basketball, do the same thing, only twice, then play the tournament in New York like you would do any other year. 

Turn the league into an MLB type entity (AL, NL).