Over the past months, we have witnessed the ups and downs of the Big East Conference as they reached out to a plethora of programs. Attempting to round up members in support of firming up the league’s new western division, the latest turn of events cannot please anyone in Providence.
On Wednesday, ESPN reported that San Diego State was following the lead of Boise State and will remain as a full member in the Mountain West Conference. Needless to say, this really puts a dampener on the league’s plans for two geographical divisions.
At this point, no one blames either school for staying put. The public lambasting the Big East has taken over the past several years from ESPN and others has certainly contributed to the negative cloud hanging over the conference. Staying put in the relative safety of the MWC is now a no-brainer.
The Big East seems like a pathetic, stick-in-the-mud wannabe because most people have bought what the ‘worldwide leader in sports’ has been dishing out for years. Nevermind the lack of real accomplishments of other conferences or the actual accomplishments of the Big East over the years, they would have you believe.
Without the automatic qualifier status and the name-brand schools, the talking heads would have you believe the conference is no better or more attractive than a box of saltine crackers sitting next to the boxes of Goldfish or Cheez-Its at your local grocery store. But let’s face it – the future Big East is no better or worse than the Mountain West or Conference USA or the Mid-American Conference or any other conference not named ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC.
We know the additions of Louisville and Cincinnati and Marquette strengthened the conference at a time when they arguably needed it most. But pay no attention to statistics or history – just go on believing that the Big East is dead. Yeah, like it was dying in 2005 and like it is dead now in 2013.
Since 2004 nineteen schools have left the conference after joining. That includes three programs – TCU, Boise State and San Diego State – which announced their transfer to the Big East but left the conference before even playing a game in it.
The Big East is not the conference it once was, but it is certainly not dead. The sport’s elite mocked Conference USA in the 1990s and early 2000’s, but that didn’t make it a bad conference. Good schools and good athletics populated that conference then, and much of the same populates the Big East now.
UCF and USF are huge research universities. SMU and Houston are phenomenal schools. Cincinnati and Connecticut are great research institutions and Temple is a dynamic, private school. ECU, Navy and Tulane are nothing to turn one’s nose up at, either.
Had the Big East focused as much on its basketball heritage as its football aspirations, would the Catholic 7 have split from the conference? We may never know. Of course, there is still time for them to reverse their decision, but something tells me those schools are pretty satisfied with the thought of creating their own league on their own terms.
The Big East need not worry about the media or act according to anyone’s assumptions about them. Keep doing what you’re doing by incorporating good schools and maintaining a good athletic product on the field of play. Aside from insisting on good academics, nothing else matters. And nothing else should matter, the least of which being what the supposed experts say.