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After the 16pocalypse: The Big East


To kick off my series, I'll start with the conference that most of us here at TNIAAM care most about, and that would probably disappear as a major football conference during the 16pocalypse. Fortunately, in my world, it comes back better than before.

While shattering the 16-team super-conferences was a risky proposition in some respects, dwindling attendance and TV ratings for games within the far-flung conferences made the idea more acceptable. Ageless Penn State football coach Joe Paterno saw an opportunity to implement the conference he always wanted, albeit with a little modernization from his original plan. And this time, everyone was willing to go for it (though it helped that this time Paterno and Penn State were prepared to accept that all TV revenue from all sports would be shared equally).

League Name: The Big East had disappeared in the super-conference era, but despite only 5 members of this ten-team conference being Big East members at the time the Big East was dissolved, two others were former Big East members, and with the exception of Virginia, all the others had a strong history of playing each other. So it was somewhat inevitable that this conference would reprise the Big East name.

Members: This conference draws in all the major-conference schools in the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia.

Advantages: This conference is in many ways a TV executive's dream, with a solid presence in 4 top-10 TV markets (Boston, Philadelphia, New York City, and Washington, DC) and a number of smaller markets in the rest of the northeast and mid-Atlantic (the largest of which are #20 Baltimore and #22 Pittsburgh) and over 70 million people in its home states (and the New England states with no FBS football teams). It's also quite compact (it's only a little over 600 miles as the crow flies from Boston to Blacksburg). A lot of traditional rivalries became conference games for the first time in a long time or the first time ever. Although it won't matter to many others, the five men's lacrosse members include three elite programs in Syracuse, Virginia, and Maryland (Rutgers and Penn State also have D-I programs).

Disadvantages: While New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are fairly good recruiting states for football, the conference has no ties to Florida, Texas, or California, and the most populous state in the conference's territory (New York) is nearly a complete bust for football (though excellent for basketball). New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia have often been ambivalent about college sports (especially football). Penn State is the only consistent elite football power (even though many of the other members have a lot of tradition and/or recent success), and the conference is not as deep as the old Big East in basketball (even when considering only the football members of the Big East in 2011).

Summary: Not surprisingly, since I put this together and started with the home conference for the Orange, I really like this conference, and think all of its members would be happy in it both in the short term and the long term, given a good TV contract. And I think it would be able to secure a good TV contract given the markets it's in.

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