John Marinatto was announced as the new Big East Commissioner today, replacing Mike Tranghese who has been in charge as long as current Syracuse freshman have been alive. The choice says to the rest of the college sports world that the Big East is doing just fine, thank you, and we'll be keeping things the way they are for now...
By choosing someone with such close ties to Tranghese and the league's history, Big East presidents have signaled that they like things the way they are. So don't expect Marinatto to come in and make major changes. Forget football expansion or downsizing the 16-team basketball alignment. People often overrate a commissioner's role in those things, anyway, since the presidents and the athletic directors have the major say in who is let in or kept out.
Marinatto's no newbie. He's been senior associate commissioner since 2002 something of a right-hand man for Tranghese. Marinatto outlined some key talking points this morning, which included the need for the Big East to get better bowl agreements (good), his lack of interest in expanding the football conference for a ninth team due to the lack of a viable candidate (Sorry, East Carolina) and being totally cool with Notre Dame not wanting to join the conference in football (give it a few more 6-6 seasons...).
If nothing else, the move signifies that things are good internally for the conference right now and Marinatto has played a large part in that.
Whatever issues the Big East has, including its unusual alignment of eight football and 16 basketball schools, the league stands in terrific financial shape thanks to its long-term TV contract with ESPN. Marinatto said the process of rebuilding after the departures of Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech brought the league closer together "in a stronger way than we've ever been." There's absolutely no talk within the conference, he said, of any kind of split among football and basketball lines.
Of course, the most important thing to note in all of this is that Marinatto better clear out some space in his basement. It's the new Octonion meeting place.