I'm a little slow on the uptake but I think I finally got it. Why in the world would the Big East, a conference with the word East in the name, want a team from Dallas, Texas? Sure, they're a recent football power but that's literally all they've got going on. But still, it's a leap to suddenly start inviting teams from Texas. Especially when you've got a perfectly good overall candidate waiting for you in Philadelphia.
And then you realize, the Big East wants, nay, needs both of them.
I hate to admit it, but it wasn't until I read the work of a Villanova blog that it all clicked. Brian over at VU Hoops pointed out something today that was so obvious that I can't believe I didn't notice it before.
TCU is located in Fort Worth, Texas — attached to Dallas, it is the nation’s 5th largest television market — a market that cable executives, would love to see included on any Big East TV network’s footprint. There are four markets larger than Dallas-Ft. Worth, and the Big East has a presence in three of them already — New York (1), Chicago (3) and Philadelphia (4).
This is the point in the movie where the protagonist realizes that the unassuming supporting character was actually the criminal mastermind the entire time. This is the Keyser Soze moment. And I can't believe I'm saying this but the Big East is Keyser Soze.
If the Big East has a team in Philadelphia and a team in Dallas, what does that give it that no other BCS conference can say they have? Access to four of the top five TV markets in the nation. New York City (St. John's, Syracuse, Rutgers), Chicago (DePaul, Notre Dame), Philadelphia (Villanova) and Dallas (TCU). All of a sudden, what the Big East lacks in drawing power on the field it makes up for with breadth across the country.
A lot of people have thrown out the idea of inviting the University of Houston as well and that makes even more sense when you expand to the top ten DMAs in the country. That would also give the Big East No. 9 Washington DC (Georgetown) and No. 10 Houston (Houston). That's six of the top ten markets in the nation. If only they could get Boston College to jump back, that would make seven.
Even without those degenerate gamblers, the Big East could have more national access that any other conference in the country amongst the top ten. Throw in Tampa (No. 14) and that's even more.
For all those times we wondered why the Big East skipped on Memphis and East Carolina, we were going about it all wrong. We were looking at location when we should have been looking at market. Big difference.
If this is right, and the cards fall the right way, I can't believe it but the Big East might just pull this whole "surviving" thing off. My guess is that Villanova is waiting to see what TCU does and TCU is waiting to see what Villanova does. If one of them can be nudged to make a move, then the dominoes should start falling. And maybe, just maybe, the Big East will be around long enough to create its own network in a few years.