UConn Huskies Would Be Wise to Follow the Catholic 7 in Basketball
USA TODAY Sports
If you're a northeastern college-hoops fan, the slow, agonizing and, at times, ludicrous death spiral of the Big East Conference has become difficult to watch.
Nobody shed a tear when Miami and Virginia Tech left the conference in 2004. Sure, it hurt a bit when Boston College, an original member, left with them.
But this is basketball we're talking about, not football, so it's an acceptable loss.
West Virginia? Notre Dame? Even Louisville stings because all three have become prominent hoops programs. But if you're a Big East purist, you can even let them go.
The real pain has come from the losses of Syracuse, another charter school, and Pittsburgh, which joined three years later.
Since then, various ringers, fill-ins and cardboard cutouts have auditioned for, joined, left or rejoined the once-proud conference that has become something of a national laughingstock.
No team has been left in more limbo from the constant reshuffling, bickering and moving around than the UConn Huskies.
Of the remaining charter members in the conference, they are by far the most prominent, yet at the moment, they seem to have no place to fit in.
The so-called "Catholic Seven" schools—Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, St. Johns, Marquette, DePaul and Villanova—are already in deep discussions for a new setup of their own.
USA Today speculated this new conference could be interested in a slew of prominent mid-major programs that have had great tournament success recently, including Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, Creighton and Xavier.
But none of those schools, and none of the existing programs, would give the new league the kind of star-power that the Huskies could bring.
UConn has won seven Big East tournament titles, 10 regular-season titles and won the National Championship three of the four times they have visited the Final Four.
While it would seem that the new league would have interest in adding the Huskies, the question is whether or not UConn would be willing to separate its football and basketball programs.
Any new conference formed from the former Big East membership would not host football, as the majority of schools do not have programs.
In recent comments, UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel refuted a Boston Globe report that his school, and the also-left-in-the-cold Cincinnati Bearcats, were involved in negotiations to join the Catholic Seven.
The main hitch appears to be a reluctance to host basketball in a separate conference from the school's other sports.
But it's difficult to see how this could be avoided. UConn has been rebuffed in the past by the Atlantic Coast Conference, which swallowed Syracuse and Pitt, and a move to the Mountain West doesn't seem logical.
The MWC has done a better job recently of resurrecting itself, with news that Boise State and possibly San Diego State will stay in the fold rather than leave for the Big East.
At the end of the day, though, can you see the UConn men's basketball team shuttling out to Cheyenne, Wyoming on a yearly basis for a tilt with the Cowboys?
Even if they joined the MWC for football only, they'd still need a basketball home.
The only logical move is to jump on board now in the early stages with whatever the Catholic Seven is planning.
At least in that conference-to-be, UConn could schedule games with prominent regional rivals, preserving some of the original matches that made the old Big East great.
It seems like a no-brainer.
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