Coming off a miserable football season with their top ranked team UConn or West Virginia headed to the Fiesta Bowl, the Big East needed to up their football ranks in order to hold on to their automatic BCS money (and while I am at it, what the hell happened to the great promise of Rutgers football?). UConn is 7-4 this season and the Big East title is theirs if they beat South Florida this Saturday. West Virginia is the only Big East team in the BCS rankings, checking in at #24. Not good. Not good at all.
Football is where the money’s at in college sports, with basketball a distant second. And that’s a shame because it is forcing the Big East, in my opinion, to try and be all things to all people in order to protect its flank.
Top to bottom, Big East basketball is the best in the land. Not so on the gridiron….for years, not just recently. Without a top flight football team in their ranks, both now and going forward, the Big East was in danger of being replaced by another conference, say the Mountain West, in the automatic BCS bid arena beginning in 2014. Bringing in powerhouse TCU, ranked #3 in the BCS and undefeated this season, will help in three ways.
First, TCU can flat out play and a top ranked team in their midst will give the Big East something to point to for the BCS decision makers. Second, with TCU on their schedule, existing Big East teams can raise their profile in the recruiting rich state of Texas and coaches should be loving that opportunity. Third, TCU is leaving the aforementioned Mountain West, following BYU out the door and leaving poor new member Boise St. all alone.
Unfortunately, bringing TCU into the mix doesn’t guarantee the Big East anything in football and the Big East remains vulnerable to a raid. We have been hearing and reading about a legitimate football powerhouse, the Big Ten, ruminate about expanding eastward to boost their presence in the lucrative NY market. Rutgers, Syracuse and/or UConn are the names posed most often as targets. Losing any of those schools would put a big hurt on the Big East football program for sure. And then where do they turn? Boise State? Yeah, that’s in EAST Boise, Idaho.
Should Jim Delaney succeed and steal away two of those three programs, the future of the Big East will reside simply in basketball. And as a fan, that’s ok with me.
BC is long gone to the ACC and losing Syracuse and/or UConn would be felt, but more like a slap than a roundhouse haymaker. I’d be willing to bet that those remaining small schools, focused on hoops, can continue to recruit, draw fans and spend for top coaches to remain atop the field.
As we head towards a world of 4 do-it-all college conferences, fans should expect big changes. The Big East is ripe for change……but if they play their cards right, they can get small and stay strong.
THE LAST BITE: ESPN sure can get scoops. This morning they report that Tom Brady’s longer hair is not about style but actually in response to a growing bald spot. Consider ourselves informed!
- The Real Payoff From TCU’s Move To The Big East? March Madness Money (businessinsider.com)
- Big East Adds Some Texas Beef To Its Plate (blogs.forbes.com)