Chas over at PittBlather, Jon at On The Banks and myself have been discussing the under-discussed topic of Big Ten expansion and how it affects our Big East teams over the last couple days. Part I of our discussion is up at PittBlather and Part II is up over at On The Banks. Now, the closing ceremonies. Let's have at it.
Let's say the Big Ten Grab happens and your school ISN'T taken. Do you start making goo-goo eyes at the ACC or work overtime to try and fix the Big East?
OTB: Is it acceptable to say both? An Eastern Conference should be viable in theory, but isn't in its present form, and definitely won't be if further crippled. The athletic department needs to do whatever they can to secure their long-term financial viability.
PB: "Goo-goo eyes at the ACC?" No. That's too subtle. I want Pitt to go NBA groupie on the ACC at that point. Screw dignity and spread the legs. It's a bit demeaning, but it's a longer-term solution to another 5-7 year run at "fixing" the Big East.
TNIAAM: I'm with Chas. I think we make a serious Fredericks' of Hollywood purchase, show up at John Swofford's house unannounced wearing a trench-coat and start whispering sweet nothings about "NYC alumni bases" and "strong basketball traditions." If that doesn't get the blood boiling...
If you do jump to the Big Ten, what are the rivalries and opponents you're most looking forward to building?
OTB: There's undeniable appeal in playing name teams like Michigan and Ohio State. Rutgers fans hate Penn State and Notre Dame more than any other programs, so getting the chance to play PSU and Joe Paterno again would be big. PSU could finally get a travelling partner who cares about them, and stop having to fight Michigan State for a fake trophy.
One of the big problems with any expansion scenario though is that there's really no appeal at all in playing the other eight teams in any sport. After you get past Iowa and Wisconsin, it's a bad, bad football conference. It's a downgrade for basketball, and the travel will be a bitch. I'm not looking forward to having our stadium invaded by the NYC-area transplants that go to school at Michigan/Wisconsin/NW, or giving an Iowa new life in recruiting New Jersey football players after they've been mostly shut out in recent years.
PB: Well, I think it goes without saying that restoring the Pitt-Penn State game would be the top of the list. Given the Big Something's love of trophies for rivalry games, I would like to see a Keystone Commonwealth Belt perhaps.
Ohio State is intriguing since it is only 3 to 4 hours from Pittsburgh (and on a personal level, I live in Cleveland). Indiana has the always hate-able Tom Crean coaching the basketball team.
TNIAAM: It says something that all three of us want to kick-start a rivalry with Penn State. It just makes too much sense logistically, geographically and historically. It's the rivalry that never should have stopped.
Beyond that I think Syracuse looks at the rest of the teams with interest but its going to take a really long time to build up any kind of emotional resonance. Especially in football. Playing Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin every year sounds like fun until you actually have to do it.
If you're running the Big East, what are the top three things you do right now to save your conference?OTB: One, fire John Marinatto, find a commissioner who puts football first.
Two, kick out Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul, and Marquette. Less hands in the revenue pool, and, ugh, a Big East cable network could make the conference's payout attractive enough to have a chance at picking off ACC teams (they're honestly not that far off as is, but the ACC is in less risk of collapsing at a moment's notice). There's no chance of bringing in Penn State or Notre Dame, and even the best mid-major options don't look great.
Three, invest in youth football in the Northeast, and encourage legislation allowing area high schools to play spring football. Both will improve the area talent pool over time, improving the quality of play in the Big East (which isn't all that bad to begin with, in spite of national perception).
It's really too little, too late. These things should have been done long ago.
PB: 1. Hot tub time machine activated and goes back to 1982. 2. Welcome, Penn St. 3. Build a shadow conference plan to splinter when Bowl Conference Alliance happens for Big East football.
Failing that plan:
1. You are screwed. To save the football side, half the constituency has to be tossed over the side. There's no way they have the stones to do that. Which means some odd mish-mash and hope that the C-USA teams that get called up to Triple-A can handle it.
2. That makes everything an unstable, and at best short term fix. Which has an odd sense of deja vu.
3. Wait? What do you mean the ACC is talking to some of our schools? Again?
TNIAAM: I agree that you either force Marinatto to think football-first or you replace him with someone who will. I think you immediately draw a line in the sand with Notre Dame, which will make them leave and ups the chances that they will join the Big Ten. Then you draw a line in the sand with basketball-only schools that aren't pulling their weight. Tradition needs to take a back seat to revenue and viability. Villanova should be enticed by any means necessary to play FBS football. As for Marquette and DePaul, I wouldn't feel too terrible shuffling them loose. And I would seriously consider adding Memphis and maybe Central Florida if only to bulk up the numbers. We're gonna need to start a Football Championship Game one way or another.
Of course none of that will happen because it's more important to look at for St. John's and Seton Hall. The Big East is doomed.