The Big East Conference has been bashed, beaten, and battered for the past few months as most analysts questioned the conferences legitimacy to the BCS. Last month’s announcement that West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse were headed to greener pastures certainly did not help. Wednesday the Big East made a huge move in silencing the critics with the addition of five teams slated to join starting the 2013 season. Along with the addition of UCF, SMU and Houston, the Big East announced that recent powerhouse Boise State and upstart San Diego State would also be joining in 2013 for football only.
Wait a second…San Diego…Boise…Big EAST? Truth be told, when a conference is on the verge of closing its doors, geographical differences are thrown out the window. Conference commissioner John Marinatto said Wednesday that the conference has no plans of changing its name, but would be dividing the conference into two divisions, East and West. The ideal situation for the Big East would be to build to twelve teams so a championship game can be played each year, again, to add legitimacy to the conference. Even with the additions of the new teams, the Big East will still lose Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh leaving only ten teams for 2014. Officials are still talking with Air Force and Navy trying to reach that magic number of twelve teams.
Fingers crossed that the league does eventually lock in twelve teams for the 2013 season because everyone benefits from a championship game. With that in mind, the divisions of the Big East would look something like this; West teams would include Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, Houston and (the furthest west current Big East team) Louisville. East would most likely include South Florida, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut, and Central Florida. If Air Force and Navy join, I would assume that Air Force would join the West to make the divisions even at six.
With the additions of the new teams, the Big East will now have the single largest media footprint in intercollegiate athletics from coast-to-coast in football; the Big East will be the first truly national football conference. This alone will have a huge effect on the TV negotiations scheduled to take place in 2012. The ability to have Big East games in every time zone back to back every Saturday makes it very easy to market the conference and double or even triple the media markets.
Not all Big East coaches liked the announcement made Wednesday; Louisville Head Basketball coach Rick Pitino has been encouraging the Big East to add some “basketball schools” like Temple or Memphis. The conference consistently sends the most schools to the NCAA tournament each year, so adding SMU, Houston and Central Florida will certainly not replace national powers Syracuse or Pittsburgh. You cannot argue Pitino’s point; Memphis and Temple have strong basketball roots and certainly would have been better replacements for the leaving schools. Marinatto decided to ignore Pitino’s pleas for now and added the more lucrative football teams to a conference that has been on life support for some time now.
As for the Bulls, this change should ignite the rivalry between South Florida and Central Florida. Not that this has been much or a rivalry considering the Bulls have dominated the Knights in every contest, knowing that they will play every year should add a little fuel to the fire.
Enjoy this article? Click the ‘subscribe’ link at the top of this article and enter your email address to receive email updates when new articles are posted. Follow Brent on Twitter.