Dear Big Ten and ACC, Please Save Pitt, Syracuse and UConn!
A look to the future...
It's 2015. Pittsburgh basketball's head coach Jamie Dixon calls Big East athletic director John Marinatto.
Dixon: So John, about this basketball schedule. I don't see Syracuse anywhere.
Marinatto: Sorry, Jamie. You're not playing Syracuse next year.
Dixon: Did they leave the conference?
Marinatto: Nope, they're still in. But we have 20 teams now. We can't have everyone in the league playing everyone. Each team plays 18 games and byes one opponent. But don't worry, I have 2016's schedule. I promise you will play them next year.
Dixon: So who do we not play next year?
Marinatto (checking schedule for 2016): UConn. Any other questions?
Dixon: Yes, where is this Waco, Texas?
Marinatto: I'm not sure. I don't think people in Texas know where it is.
Dixon: How about Ames, Iowa? Do they even have an airport?
Marinatto: I don't know.
Best Conference For Pittsburgh?
Dixon: Well at least we are playing Kansas State in Manhattan. It will be good to get the New York atmosphere before the Big East Tournament.
Marinatto: We don't have neutral conference games...
Dixon: It says we are playing Kansas State in Manhattan.
Marinatto (after looking at the schedule): That's Manhattan, Kansas.
Dixon: You know where that is?
Marinatto: No idea.
If it wasn't for the Big 12 Conference, the Big East Conference has to be the biggest mess in college sports.
I posted last year how bad the Big East screwed over Temple but I wonder if that's such a bad thing.
If you dislike geographically friendly conferences, blame the Big East. They started it.
After the Big East got raided by the ACC, they decided to invite Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida, DePaul and Marquette.
Best Conference for Syracuse?
None of the teams were in the Northeast. Only one is an "Eastern" school and that school had only been in Div. 1A football for less than 10 years and to this day is 0-2 all time in the NCAA Tournament.
The Big East of course wanted to keep its football conference (of course they could have brought back Temple instead of going to some unknown school in Florida). But invite two Midwestern schools that don't even have football? What's the point? I will be the first to admit Marquette has become a perennial NCAA team but DePaul has been a complete disaster.
Then the Big East of course recently was trying to improve its football. They invited TCU but for all sports instead of just football. So now the Big East is a 17 team league for basketball and other sports. That means already if they keep the same 18 game schedule, teams are trading in a rivalry game or a high profile match-up for a match-up with the Horned Frogs. And how are they going to schedule the Big East Tournament at the Garden now?
There was no reason for the Big East to invite TCU for all sports. They are a BCS conference. TCU was on the outside looking in. Who had the power? The Big East. If the Big East had said to TCU that they want TCU only for football, was TCU going to reject a football only bid? I seriously doubt if it came down to a football only invite vs. not being invited, TCU would turn down a chance to be in the Big East.
Now the rumor is the Big East may be looking to grab the Big 12's rejects. So that would mean a 20-team league. Do you really think they will play a 19-game conference schedule? Probably not. There would be no way Pitt and UConn or Syracuse and Villanova would ever play twice again.
Now don't get me wrong, Kansas basketball would be a huge gain for the Big East and seeing Kansas and Syracuse or Kansas and UConn would be exciting. But Kansas State? No thanks. Every other year, the Northeast teams will be traveling to Manhattan, Kansas in the middle of winter.
If Missouri (which wouldn't be a terrible school to invite) gets an invite to the SEC or Big 12, Iowa State could replace them. Who wants the second best school in Iowa in our conference?
Then there's the rumor almost every Big East fan shudders to hear: Baylor.
I think the Big East still wants to hold on to football but if you have to take second rate schools west of the Mississippi River to hold onto football, you're desperate.
There's a reason TCU had to come to the Big East. No other BCS conference wanted them. The Big 12 doesn't even want them. I can pretty much guarantee if the Big Ten, SEC or Pac-12 wanted Iowa State or Baylor, they would rather go to those conferences. So, the Big East is essentially a "last resort" and that makes the conference look pathetic.
If the Big East does invite three former Big 12 members, the Big East will have 20 members. Of those 20, six of them will be from the Central Time Zone and four will be west of the Mississippi River. Only nine of the 20 will be from "Northeastern" states.
Does that sound like an Eastern or a Northeastern conference to you? What's next, the Big East Tournament leaving Madison Square Garden?
One solution to the 20 team monstrosity is the proposed split of the football schools and the non football schools as Jim Calhoun has predicted will happen. Of course then that means no more UConn/Villanova or Syracuse/Georgetown. That would mean UConn, Syracuse and Pittsburgh would be the only original Big East members playing in the "Big East Football" conference.
I know I sound like a traditionalist but let's face it, the Big East isn't what its was and will never be again. If it weren't for the disaster of the Big 12, people would be calling the Big East a disaster of a conference.
Unfortunately, the Big East is a ticking time bomb and for Connecticut, Syracuse and Pittsburgh there is only one choice: Bail.
That's why I am begging the Big Ten and/or ACC, please rescue these three schools from the sinking ship of the Big East.
Sure, the Big Ten may not be the Big East and of course not being able to play in the Garden in March is a sacrifice. But I think both of these conferences will be far better for the Huskies, Panthers and Orange.
I wrote last year the Big Ten should grab Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn and make the ultimate basketball conference. In addition, I feel Pittsburgh (who plays Notre Dame quite often) may help finally bring Notre Dame to the conference (something many Big Ten fans are hoping for).
Right now, Notre Dame is an independent in football because the Big East is willing to coddle them and take all of their other sports. They also allow Notre Dame access to some of their bowl bids. My guess is that Notre Dame will get to keep all of that bowl money rather than share it with the rest of the conference.
Why is the Big East doing this? Because Big East football sucks. It has been suggested that the Big East "get a backbone" and demand Notre Dame to join for football or get out. We know that's not going to happen. They can't even stand up to TCU.
Essentially, the Big East is keeping Notre Dame from joining the Big Ten. When will the Big Ten realize this and raid the Big East and possibly get Notre Dame?
In the Big Ten, there will be some travel to Iowa and Nebraska for Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn but the three will also get to join Penn State. I remember Penn State playing Syracuse and Pittsburgh in football when I was growing up (yes, I am that old) and would love to see those series renewed. Plus, Ohio State and Michigan aren't too far away and are terrific football atmospheres.
The other option of saving Pittsburgh, Syracuse and UConn is the ACC. While the Big Ten doesn't seem to be in a rush to add new members, the ACC possibly could lose one or more teams to the SEC and might be forced to try to expand.
In addition, even if the SEC doesn't raid the ACC, the primarily southeastern ACC will always be considered the inferior conference down south where it is clear the SEC rules. Why not come to the Northeast which you can become the dominant conference up here (and also set yourself apart from the SEC)?
Another Bleacher Report writer, Jason Dunigan, suggested a Northeast expansion of the ACC. While he may have had football in mind, of course having Pitt, Syracuse and UConn in a conference with North Carolina and Duke would be spectacular for college basketball.
Right now, Boston College (like Penn State in the Big Ten) seems isolated in the ACC by themselves. Boston College and Connecticut would be able to form a New England rivalry. BC can renew rivalries with Syracuse and Pitt as well. All of the ACC teams currently are along the East Coast as opposed to the Big East and Big Ten.
Back in 2003, the ACC wanted Syracuse but they were cut out by Mark Warner. This is the ACC's chance to get Syracuse. Wouldn't it be ironic if Virginia Tech leaves for the SEC and the ACC gets the ACC it wanted back in 2003?
Either conference would in my opinion be an upgrade for Pitt, Syracuse and UConn and I think both conferences can gain more of a footing in the East Coast and the Northeast by inviting one or more of these schools.
One conference can pick up all three or the Big Ten and ACC can split the teams. One idea is for the ACC to pick up Syracuse and Connecticut and the Big Ten to add Pittsburgh and then Notre Dame (once the three leave the Big East, Notre Dame finally caves). Then you've got two great 14 team leagues.
I think it would be a win/win for both the Big Ten and/or ACC and for Pittsburgh/Syracuse/UConn. So come on, Big Ten and/or ACC. Save us from the Big East! (or should I say Big East / Midwest / Southeast / Southwest?)
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