When Vladimir Putin named protege Dmitry Medvedev his successor for the Russian Presidency but stayed on as Prime Minister, everyone rolled their eyes under the assumption that Putin was still going to be pulling the strings behind the scenes. And as long as Putin remains in the mix, that perception will probably never change.
By no means am I comparing Mike Tranghese to Vladimir Putin on a personal level, but now that Tranghese has re-established himself in the world of college athletics in a way that will almost undoubtedly affect the Big East, you can bet everyone is wondering just how long current Big East commissioner and Tranghese protege John Marinatto will go before he starts pulling one more favor for his former boss.
Former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese has been hired by the University of Memphis as a consultant to assist the Tigers athletic program in its efforts to gain membership in a Bowl Championship Series conference.
"His role is to help us and advise us," Johnson said. "He asked me: 'What's my charge?' I said, 'There are six BCS conferences. Just get us in one.'"
Let's not beat around the bush, Memphis is going to join the Big East. Maybe not this year. Maybe not in three years. But eventually. That's the point here. It just makes too much sense for anything else. I mean, look at the facts:
Tranghese was the Big East for the last 20 years.
Tranghese was the commissioner who made the Conference USA purge of Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida happen, so he knows all the players.
Tranghese is the Darth Sidius to Marinatto's Dark Vader. Again, not a literal comparison, but, you know...
Memphis's biggest booster, FedEx CEO Frederick W. Smith, wants Memphis to join the Big East specifically:
"I think the Big East will have to expand at some point to at least nine football teams and, probably, eventually to 12," Smith said. "With only eight football teams now, the (Big East) teams have only three home league games every other year. Nine solves that problem."
He's right. The question is, is Memphis right for the Big East?
Football-wise, Memphis is a mediocre program at best. They've gone bowling recently but to nothing major. The good news is that they have a natural rivalry to Louisville and Cincy and familiarity with USF as well from the CUSA days. If the Big East decides it just needs a warm body to fill that 9th slot, then Memphis is as good as any, but expectations should be muted.
Basketball-wise, it's a little trickier. In the short-term, they're a great get nationally. The program is in the midst of it's best run in years though the defection of Calipairi could change things drastically. The bad news is, the basketball side is already too congested. 16 teams has already made scheduling clunky and awkward. A 17th team would just make it worse. Unless, say, the Big East decided to kick one of the non-football schools out, which is highly unlikely since they're all traditional teams.
Tranghese is on the payroll for six months and no more. I'd say just his mere appearance in the mix makes Memphis' chances of joining the Big East go up exponentially. It's probably more a question of far the conference is willing to bend on basketball in order to appease football.