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Let's Rumor Monger: Pitt Edition

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via <a href="http://mswalters.tripod.com/prog/pitt-pennst60.jpg">mswalters.tripod.com</a>
via mswalters.tripod.com

So you've provably heard by now...Pitt is joining the Big Ten today. 

No wait...they're joining the Big Ten on Thursday.

No wait, they already told the players and they've loaded up all of their stuff into Mayflower trucks so they can move to Indianapolis under the cover of night.

No wait, Syracuse is going with them so they're just waiting until DOC Gross gets his press release ready.

I'm fairly certain every single one of those rumors are being spouted off as gospel somewhere on Twitter, a message board or blog right now (except the Indianapolis one...pretty sure you can't fit a college inside a moving van). 

So what the hell is going on and where did this come from?  I wrote up a super-quick overview on the mothership last night but here's the gist:

The Kansas City Star's Campus Corner blog passed along news that multiple Pitt athletes posted Twitter updates about a secret school meeting in which they were told the university would be making the switch.  The players were then instructed not to tell anyone until the announcement was made public.

That's either completely untrue or the dumbest strategy I've ever heard of.

I mean, even if there is truth to this...they couldn't have possibly done that right?  What would they have had to gain by holding a meeting with a collection of teenagers involving super-secret information and then trusting them not to tell anyone?  Did they only tell athletes from the major sports or was the cross country team informed as well?  How about the club teams, did they make the cut at this massive meeting?

Throw in the fact that local journalists haven't even so much as sniffed this out yet and things seem dubious.  ZagsBlog even has an official denial from the Pitt Athletic Department:

Internet reports that Pittsburgh is moving to the Big 10 from the Big East are "100 percent’ false, according to a spokesperson for the Pittsburgh athletic department.

"There is no announcement to make because there is nothing happening," said Pitt spokesman Mike Gladysz.

Another Pitt spokesman added: "It’s a total rumor. There is no truth to it. I am 100 percent sure.

(Note: Apparently "Pitt spokesman Mike Gladysz" isn't even be a Pitt spokesman.  So that's weird. H/T: Pitt Blather)

The Rivalry, Esq. also throws out some strong common sense explanations as to why this smells a little funky.

Well first, there's the extreme unlikelihood that the Big Ten Council of Presidents would act so quickly, little more than a month into an evaluation process tabbed to take a year to a year and a half...for a conference that has only added three members in the past century, an impulse buy is more than out of character. 

The nail in the coffin of this rumor for me, is that the Big East appears totally in the dark.  The Big Ten made it more than clear when it announced plans to explore expansion that it would contact a prospective target's conference before approaching an individual school.  

So can we all go back to sleep now?  Well, not quite.  It doesn't sound like this is going to be as immediate as rumors would make it out to be...but perhaps it's the first step in that direction?  The whole concept of one BCS conference raiding another BCS conference is a sneaky battle.  There's sure to be tons of behind-the-scenes moves and possibly even some rumor-mongering and shady tactics in order to shake things up.

If the rest of the Big East is now aware that the possibility exists that Pitt could be leaving, what are the chances they start inquiring as well just in case?  I mean, let's face it, the Big East has pretty much proven they're asleep at the wheel when it comes to protecting themselves.  Just like the last time, the conference is at such a disadvantage from a financial and awareness perspective, it's only logical move to ensure it's future is to make the first move.  And that's something the basketball-first powers-that-be in Providence just don't seem willing to do.  The Big East is reactive, not proactive.

And so, if I'm Syracuse or West Virginia or Rutgers, and now I know the mere possibility exists that a quality member like Pitt could leave...well...I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to go with them.  Better to be a part of a 14-team Big Ten (or whatever) than a 8-team Big East that looks a little bit more like a mid-major than it used to.

Not saying I want that.  But if the dominoes start falling, that's the direction they'll head.  Again, as far as I'm concerned, there's no validity to this...for now.  But it certainly sounds like something that could happen.