The thing that the Big East has never seemed to understand is that Football pays the mortgage while basketball pays the lights.
Ever since the inception of the Big East, the focus on the organization of the league has been around basketball. Not that basketball isn't a profit producing enterprise that puts butts in the seats and get the alumni and fans all riled up, it certainly is. But all of the moves the conference has ever made have been to protect Basketball, while football at the end of the day, drives budgets.
I'm not gonna go through Big East history but an excellent article to bone up can be found in 2 parts here: http://www.suathletics.com/sports/2001/8/8/history.aspx
The part that I want to get to is that Joe Pa was trying to get an Eastern All-Sports league together but the Cuse and BC didn't want to leave the Big East and Joe Pa knew it so Penn State applied for admission into the Big East and the Big East voted down Penn State and elected to invite Pitt, and Penn State subsequently joined the Big Ten.
Soon thereafter, the Big East football playing schools started to feel the heat on the football field in terms of profitability when Oklahoma and Georgia sued and earned the Big College Football schools the right to negotiate their own media deals. The three aforementioned schools realized that they didn't have the clout to demand the sort of money other schools could earn especially without...you guessed it Penn State.
It may have seemed for a while that basketball may carry the day but at the end of the day the Big East primarily basketball deal earned them an astounding 6 year 200 Million dollar deal while the Big Ten got from ABC/ESPN a 10 year 1 Billion dollar deal and another 25 Year 2.8 Billion Dollar deal via the BTN. The SEC stepped up to the plate and smacked a 15 year 3 Billion dollar home run out of the park between CBS and ESPN.
Now, from time to time I would say that the Big Ten and the SEC have decent basketball squads. And as much as it pains me (an Ohio State/Big Ten fan) to say it. In most years the Big East plays better basketball than the Big Ten and every year they are better than the SEC. But the point of this article is to show that no matter how good the basketball teams are, it will not earn nearly as much money as a solid football program. Which leave the venerable basketball league in a precarious situation.
Look at the bottom feeders in the Big Ten or SEC. The revenue they produce is comparable to that of the top Big East teams. And right now there is nothing the Big East can do about it or any moves they can make that will stop any BCS league from stealing their lunch. Right now if the ACC, Big Ten, or SEC comes calling for WVA, Pitt, Louisville, USF, Rutgers, Cincy, UConn, or the Cuse. Any of those schools would be hard pressed to say no because immediately the financial situation improves dramatically and out of conference games can be scheduled to keep Eastern rivalries alive.
No doubt I can eventually see the basketball schools and the football schools splitting up and the football conference (whatever they will call themselves) will probably be heavily concentrated around the Ohio River cause in my opinion they are getting squeezed from all sides. The Big Eastern programs of Syracuse, UConn, and Rutgers are too valuable from a media standpoint for the ACC and Big Ten not to lust. So I think the foundation of the new football big east will be: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Marshall, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, South Florida and maybe East Carolina, Temple, and/or Central Florida.
The fact of the matter is that the Big East is too spread out, have institutions that are not similar enough from a culture, resources, or student body perspective. And they are vulnerable to being plucked.
Moreover with all of the money that the other leagues are bringing in they can upgrade their basketball programs too. (See Texas and Florida for confirmation)
The worse decision that they made was voting down Penn State's admission and now the league that is perhaps the best in the nation in basketball will apparently be plundered because it lacks Penn State. Talk about karma.
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