I felt compelled to write something down, for the record, on this whole Catholic Seven breaking away from the Big East...thing. It's not that I feel you are compelled to read what I write. It's just, well, as Syracuse and Big East and college basketball fans, today's Sources Say Rumor of The Day that the seven non-FBS football schools are leaving with or without the Big East name, we're finally seeing the plug pulled on whatever the conference has become.
That should be an important day, right? One that should live on, a "where were you when the Big East died?" type of moment.
I mean, it's this thing that gave us characters like John Thompson Jr. to hate, or Lou Carnesecca's fashionable statements to avoid, Jim Boeheim's Boeheimness to endure and, eventually, learn to enjoy, even Jim Calhoun's butchering of what we can only guess is the English language became classic. It was this league of "you've got to see this guy!" talent that made a Pearl out of Dwayne Washington, towers out of Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo, legends out of Chris Mullin, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Gerry McNamara, and too many more players to even be able to list (and I really mean that).
Amazing memories, amazing games, amazing times, all gone. So its day of death should be pretty important.
But for most Syracuse fans, most college basketball fans really, the Big East died years ago. Maybe the cause of death goes back to the 80s when the league powers didn't understand or just didn't care for the power of football. Maybe it was a decade ago when the ACC made its first move on the Big East. Or maybe the cause, or simply the point where everyone accepted the end was near, was when Syracuse, of all the schools to leave, said goodbye to the Big East.
Conference realignment probably took longer than it expected, but it finally caught up to the Big East. Whenever its heart stops beating and the legalities are sorted is irrelevant now -- it's over. Death. And what we're all seeing right now, this bitter struggle to the end, isn't what we'll remember. We won't think back to press conferences where the Big East banner hangs behind Tulane administrators or on the campus of East Carolina (I'd say no offense, but c'mon...). We'll think of the good. Times at the Garden for Ray v. A.I. or Gerry's run, or:
And still, soon enough there will be an official time of death but we'll all know it will be wrong, off by years.
For Syracuse, it has already moved on, it will be playing the likes of Duke and North Carolina in its comfy-for-now ACC home. And, hell, maybe the ACC tournament will end up at Madison Square Garden to give us a little feel of the past. It will never be what was but it will at least be something. And all you need to do is just look at what's going on at Connecticut to realize how important "something" is right now.
That's the comforting thought, I guess. It sucks the Big East and all that made it the Big East will really be gone. But the antiquated league was always on borrowed time anyway. The fact that we as fans got all that we did out of the Big East is something to be thankful for.
It didn't last forever and it got ugly at the end, but Big East basketball, the Big East basketball we knew and loved, will never be far from our brains as we watch whatever becomes the future of college basketball.
As for that future, I certainly don't know what's next for the Big East, for the Catholic 7, and really, for Syracuse and the ACC. And just the same, I don't really know what to make of or feel about the official end to the conference that was must-see basketball for so long. I sat here wanting to put something down but not even knowing how to start this and now I'm not exactly sure how to end it -- which really may be the best way to sum up the Big East.