Former Big East Commissioner John Marinatto
Losing most jobs is upsetting and depressing. Commissioner of the Big East Conference is not most jobs. John Marinatto’s emotions after leaving that position are probably more along the lines of relief.
In the old world of college sports, the Big East was the red-headed stepchild of the automatic qualifying conferences. (I swear I didn’t plan this, but no offense, Zac, who is actually about to become my red-headed stepchild.)
In the new world of college sports the Big East is so very close to being disowned by the family.
In the new world up is down, black is white, good is—well, you get the picture. I’m going to try and lay out the new landscape of big time college sports. If you like tradition and common sense, look away.
I think the opening salvo was fired by the Big Ten when it took Nebraska from the Big 12 in 2011. And the Big Ten had been at 11 schools since adding Penn State in 1993, so would it now be the Big 12? That conference doesn’t need the name anymore since it only has 10 schools.
How did that happen, you ask?
You already know Nebraska left for the Big Ten. Utah and Colorado left for the Pac-12. Texas A&M and Missouri left for the SEC. TCU and West Virginia then came from the Big East, bringing the number of schools in the Big 12 to 10. You didn’t know TCU was in the Big East? It was a member for about 12 minutes, never actually playing any games before leaving for the Big 12. Clear?
Let’s give the Pac-12 credit for being the only one of the six AQ conferences with a logical name. It went from the Pac-8 to the Pac-10 after adding Arizona and Arizona State in 1978, and from the Pac-10 to the Pac-12 by adding Utah and Colorado last year.
The ACC has continued annexing Big East teams by adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse, starting in the fall of 2013. This comes after the 2003 defections of Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech.
You’re confused by the geographical makeup of these conferences? Utah and Colorado in a west coast league? Worse than that is Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Boston College in a southeast conference? You poor soul.
Now we get to the new Big East.
The reason the Big East has been so poorly regarded is its lousy football performance compared to the other conferences. Football runs college sports. A weak Big East football conference got downright pathetic with the recent losses of West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida? Really?
The aforementioned Marinatto went to work and came up with the following additions to the Big East.
For football only: Navy, Boise State and San Diego State.
For all sports: Temple, Memphis, Central Florida, Houston, and SMU.
Stop rubbing your eyes, they’re fine. You read it right.
Put down your atlas. Yes, the Boise State in Idaho and the San Diego State in, well, San Diego. Why would the Big East expand to Tennessee and Texas? I left out Florida? No, South Florida had already given the Big East a presence in the Sunshine State.
Big East football now has 13 teams, including Temple, which had previously been thrown out of the Big East for not drawing enough fans for football. In an attempt to keep its AQ status for the BCS, the Big East has apparently gone for quantity over quality.
Big East basketball? Well, no one left after Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia, so add the five new schools to Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. Johns, Seton Hall, Villanova, South Florida and a partridge in a pear tree.
You don’t need an abacus. Eighteen basketball teams. The tournament will take a month.
Why? Money. Lots of it. After Nebraska left the Big 12 it was rumored that Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were headed to the Pac-10, which would have logically become the Pac-14.
It didn’t happen because reportedly the Pac-10 told Texas the teams share revenue out west and that would include income from the new Longhorn Network. Texas balked, the Big 12 told the Longhorns they could keep that money and instead of dying, the Big 12 had the ammunition to add TCU and West Virginia.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh then looked at the Big East and realized how shaky their AQ status was and jumped to the ACC to ensure their seat at the big boy football table.
The last dominoes fell as the Big East flailed about, grabbing what it could. It's hoping Boise State can be the marquee program it needs to stay relevant.
See now why Marinatto’s smiling?