Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Big East loses Identity

The Big East has suffered recently with long established names such as Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving for the ACC, following West Virginia's migration to the Big 12 conference this year.  There is also movement of Notre Dame to the ACC in a few years, and Rutgers to the Big 10 in 2014.

The Big East, as a conference is probably more established for its College Basketball programs, but with the departure of Syracuse and Pitt, with the inevitable departure of Louisville and Conneticiut, the Big East is slowly turning into the Big Sleep.  A conference that is losing relevance and is so snatching up schools that will jump at any carrot dangled in front of them.

The news on Tuesday (27th Nov) that they have added Tulane and East Carolina to the football Big East conference, has been met with some guffaws and feint praise. The two schools join in 2014, giving them 13 football members - UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Cincinnati, along with recent additions Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, Southern Miss, Memphis, Houston, Tulane and East Carolina.

That makes it 9 former Conference USA teams, two former Mountain West teams and a former Mid-American conference (MAC) member.

The Big East should just eat up all of C-USA and call itself that.  The reach of the schools across much of the midwest reaching towards California with San Diego State, makes them the Big Eat - a conference that gorges on other teams.  Boise State were due to be on a larger stage, but to go Eastwards instead of the Pac 12 means that the schools are just as bad as the conferences, taking up whatever money they can.

Most schools in C-USA get $750,000 each with their television deal, the prospective numbers for the Big East make it closer to $8m each; so who is fooling who is leading who here. All these schools are simply moving to the Big East for a bigger cut of the pie, the Big East is negotiating a new television deal and stressing on bigger markets in Philadelphia, Dallas and New Orleans

What is gained and who wins here? Tulane are nothing special, this season in C-USA they ended 2-10 (2-6 C-USA), both wins came against conference opponents vs SMU 27-26 and UAB 55-45, two teams that ended up 0-12 and 3-9 respectively.  Amazingly SMU jumped to the Big East first.

As for East Carolina, they have a better football program and are only joining for football in 2014; finishing 8-4 and 7-1 in conference, there only loss coming to UCF Knights who will play Tulsa in the C-USA championship on Saturday.  There pedigree is reads much better and will certainly improve with the added income, which is what such re-alignment is for.  However, conferences must always carry deadwood in certain sports.

Conference re-alignment is an understatement, surely conference rebranding is a better turn of phrase for the comings and goings of universities and schools moving from one conference to another under the pretence of joining a bigger and better conference.

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