Morning Five: 09.23.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 23rd, 2011

  1. As we’ve said before, one of the few positives that’s come out of the conference congealment/realignment mess is that some writers have simply had enough and are pulling out all the stops in their critiques, and the readers are benefitting from it. The latest example of this came yesterday from Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel, who explains why the current system blows, the new superconference system will be even worse, and that it’s not too late to save these conference and school administrators from themselves and try to save college athletics, certainly (our favorite section coming here), “…for the average fan, who just appreciated things like the Big East basketball tournament or Backyard Brawl or the myriad other traditions that seem a lot cooler than protecting the salary of the guy who runs the Great Idaho Potato Bowl.” Enjoy.
  2. So, in that vein…Dan Beebe is out as commissioner of the Big 12, and it looks like this conference — which looked extremely wobbly at best just a week ago — will now survive. You probably remember that it was Oklahoma that said it would only stay on board if Beebe was removed AND if Texas‘ brand new Longhorn Network would be restricted in what it could show, especially regarding high school games/athletes. As for the “victory” yesterday and the discussion among the member schools that lasted for just over an hour, OU president David Boren said, “We achieved substantial reforms. We feel extremely good.” We assume now that it’s only a matter of time until the remaining schools gang up on Texas and that TV network to try and hammer out a few more substantial reforms.
  3. It’s been just over 18 months since March 3, 2010, a night on which Maryland defeated Duke in a basketball game. It’s also the night that Maryland student John McKenna was beaten with riot batons by a couple of police officers during the celebratory mayhem that followed the game. McKenna and his family hired a private investigator who found a tape of the incident, showing that McKenna was not provoking the officers and was unarmed. The tape didn’t support the officers’ story that McKenna was belligerent to the policemen’s horses and it was the horses that caused McKenna’s injuries. A Prince George’s County, MD grand jury saw that tape recently. The officers are still innocent until proven guilty, but the grand jury indicted them earlier this week, charging them with first- and second-degree assault.
  4. On May 13, UNLV senior Chace Stanback was pulled over for suspicion of DUI and ended up testing positive for marijuana. The summary of his punishment is as follows: $585 in fines, 40 hours of community service, attendance at DUI school, and participation in a victim impact panel. Yesterday, the school also suspended Stanback for the Rebels’ season opener on November 11 against Grand Canyon as well as an exhibition ten days earlier. The 6’8” swingman will be UNLV’s leading returning scorer, averaging 13.0 PPG last season (2nd on team), and led the Rebs last year in rebounding (5.9 RPG) as well as efficiency rating (13.5).
  5. Speaking of November 11, that’s Veterans’ Day, and the night that Michigan State and North Carolina will face off in the first-ever NCAA game on an aircraft carrier, lovingly called the “Carrier Classic,” specifically aboard the USS Carl Vinson docked in San Diego. The combatants for the 2012 edition now look to be Arizona from the Pac-12 and Connecticut from the Big East ACC…well, whatever. We understand the reasons they’re doing this on the Vinson and why the ship has to be docked, but as we wrote in our original article on the carrier game, at some point in the future this has to be played on an active ship in the middle of missile drills. Talk about preparing a team to play on the road, man. The sight of a bird being launched in the middle of an 18-year old’s one-and-bonus will make a couple of snarky signs or synchronized cheers from some day-drinking poli-sci majors look pretty tame.
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The Effects of Realignment on Mid-Level Power Conference Teams

Posted by rtmsf on September 22nd, 2011

Kenny Ocker (@kennyocker) is an RTC contributor.

With the flurry of conference expansion that has taken place since the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament, the biggest focus has been upon two subsets of teams: those that would be taken to new conferences, and those whose conferences would be dismantled around them. The former teams — a collection of powerful programs such as Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and basketball also-rans like TCU and Nebraska, and schools in between — have understandably been analyzed because they are the institutions affecting the change throughout the collegiate sports landscape. The latter programs — Big 12 litigious ursines Baylor chief among them — fear being left behind and have received plenty of attention about the prospect of falling out of the upper echelon of big-time, big-money college athletics.  But there’s a third subset of programs affected by the changing composition of the conferences: the teams already within them. For the average team in an expanding major conference — teams like Oregon, Arkansas, or Georgia Tech — the impact of the expansion is one that hasn’t been looked at with the same level of scrutiny.

What Happens to Teams Like These in Conference Realignment? (AP/G. Broome)

So what is in store for these programs after this time of transition? The primary theme of uncertainty permeating the entire expansion process is just as applicable to these schools, and given the lack of coverage, it may actually be a more uncertain path. They possess similar conference structures, budgets and players, but they will face two fundamental problems exacerbated by the potential (or actual) growth of their conferences.

The first problem is likely to be the decreased amount of available challenging non-conference scheduling for teams. As their conferences grow, the pool of programs with similar statures that are available and willing to play them will diminish, both because teams will be able to play fewer teams as a result of the increased size of their conference and because of schools’ general unwillingness to play too many games against a single conference in one year.

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Morning Five: 09.22.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 22nd, 2011

  1. A couple of top prospects made their college choices within the last couple of days and the rich keep getting richer. On Tuesday night, Kentucky opened its account within the 2012 class when 6’4”, 180-pound shooting guard Archie Goodwin tweeted his intent to be a Wildcat. It was Perry Ellis‘ turn on Wednesday, and the 6’8”, 220-pound forward chose Kansas, citing Bill Self’s knack for getting the most out of his Jayhawk bigs as motivation for heading to Lawrence. Goodwin is ranked 13th overall and Ellis is 37th in the ESNPU 100 class of 2012 rankings. Ellis was also the first ranked recruit to commit to Kansas from that class, but it goes without saying that neither program is finished mining its talent.
  2. Oklahoma took some heat for the ultimatum it gave to the Big 12 on Tuesday, claiming that it would stay in the conference if, among other demands, some restrictions were placed on exactly what Texas’ Longhorn Network could show, and if current Big 12 commish Dan Beebe was removed. Nobody (including us) bought it as a good-faith negotiating tactic, but it turns out that OU might be getting at least part of what it wants. Evidently Oklahoma isn’t the only school that would welcome Beebe’s ouster, and the most recent word is that the presidents of the conference’s member institutions are having a conference call (no pun intended) tomorrow that will determine the future of the Big 12, beginning with the removal of Beebe and the installment of former Big 8 commissioner Chuck Neinas as the new boss.
  3. Last week, when people who follow college sports weren’t talking about conference realignment, they were talking about the piece that appeared in The Atlantic by essayist and historian Taylor Branch entitled “The Shame Of College Sports.” The 14,573-word diatribe against the NCAA was lauded by almost everyone as a stinging polemic, to say the least, and an utter rout for Branch. CBS’ Seth Davis, however, took Branch and his essay to task yesterday, charging Branch with basing his whole article on a faulty premise and conveniently leaving out obvious counterpoints. We provided a CliffsNotes version of the Branch essay, and we highly recommend you check out Davis’ response, too, linked above.
  4. Rick Pitino had a chat with ESPN’s Andy Katz yesterday in which the Louisville coach predicted that the Big East would survive Realignment ’11, that the conference would add two service acadamies (football only) by the end of the week, it would still remain one of the strongest basketball conferences in the land, and that he is “happy with Big East basketball.” Pitino has a gift for spin that makes even the most skilled of lobbyists envious, but he’s probably right about the Big East staying strong. Obviously it won’t be what it once was if Syracuse and Pittsburgh follow through with their departures, but as far as basketball power, assuming Rutgers and Connecticut leave and Notre Dame and West Virginia stay, you’d have those two programs plus Louisville, Marquette, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Villanova, and St. John’s, all NCAA Tournament teams last year.
  5. We bet you can win a few bar bets — though your chances of success increase dramatically if you’re outside the state of Michigan — on one of the great riddles in college basketball: who was Michigan State’s only three-time basketball all-American? Hint: he was a point guard. Your sucker will probably pounce at the chance to answer “Magic Johnson!” and expect to relieve you of your cash, but he’d be wrong. Magic was a two-time AA as a Spartan (because he only played two years). It’s a Flintstone named Mateen Cleaves who holds that honor, and today he will be inducted into Michigan State University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Despite feeling as humbled and honored as you’d expect, the 34-year old Cleaves told Eric Woodyard of the Flint Journal and MLive.com, “It does make me feel old that I’m entering the hall of fame.” No comment.
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Quinnipiac Keeps Two Players Charged With Assault On The Team

Posted by nvr1983 on September 21st, 2011

One of the major tenets of the American legal system is the concept that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. It is a principle that is commonly cited by defense attorneys and supporters of the accused. However, in the world of college sports, most programs keep this principle confined to the legal system and usually suspend the athletes while the school and legal system investigate the charges. Quinnipiac apparently is not one of those programs. Early Sunday morning, James Johnson, who was 1st team All-NEC while averaging 16.1 PPG last year as a junior, and Ike Azotam, who averaged 5.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG last year as a freshman, were arrested after allegedly assaulting two other students during a fight on-campus.  Johnson and Azotam were both charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace and detained before being released on $5,000 bond.

Azotam (L) & Johnson (R) Are Due In Court On Monday (Credit: Hamden Police)

While this is an unfortunately not uncommon occurrence on college campuses it was strange to hear that the school has reportedly decided to keep the two players on the team while they are investigating the matter. In reality, this is probably a trivial matter as the two players are due in court next Monday, September 26, but the standard protocol in college sports over the years has been to suspend the players while the investigation is on-going regardless of how light the penalties may be (see the recent cases of Erik Murphy and Jerime Anderson). For their part, neither Azotam nor Johnson have alluded to the incident on their Twitter accounts although Azotam has kept tweeting as if nothing had happened (unless you count this) while Johnson has been silent.

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Taylor Brown Cleared, Will Be Back For Bradley

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

Bradley forward Taylor Brown is back playing basketball. After sitting out all of last season while doctors investigated an issue with his heart, Brown has been cleared to play his senior season.

Brown Had To Willingly Decondition His Body and Heart For His Cardiac Workup

Here’s what’s particularly compelling about Brown’s case: as part of his doctors’ investigation over the last year or so, Brown was told to actually de-condition his heart. Obviously, that doesn’t mean he was told by his docs to start smoking and to commence with an all-lard diet, but it does mean that he was told not only to refrain from playing basketball, but also not to do anything active. In short, he was told by his doctors, quite frankly, to do nothing, to allow himself to get into worse shape, because it would help his physicians reach a diagnosis. That might be fantastic medical advice for certain basketball blog writers — such a directive from one of our doctors would be met with a hearty “Can do!” and an immediate trip to the store for more Doritos — but it’s not the easiest thing for someone in their early 20s to hear, and certainly not for an athlete with a future that was getting brighter with every game he played.

After transferring from junior college in 2008, Brown averaged 3.4 PPG and 3.0 RPG in an average 11.5 MPG for Bradley in 2008-09. That ballooned to 13.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG during his sophomore year, and his 12.9 efficiency rating was the best on his team for 2009-10. After sitting out his junior year for the cardiac workup, he’s had to work hard to re-condition himself after the long period of prescribed de-conditioning, and he’ll be back to help the Braves rebound from a 12-20 (4-14 MVC) mark last year.

Patients are told by their doctors to rest or restrict themselves from certain activities, depending on the malady from which they’re suffering, or because it will aid in the workup of a suspected disorder. But there are incredibly few conditions that would require your physician to say, “We actually need your heart to be in a little worse shape than it is now so we can check into this. That’d help us out a lot. Then we’re going to put you through a bunch of heart tests.” Because the working and final diagnoses of Brown’s case have never been released during this process, we won’t disrespect him here by saying what we think it is, but the fact that he’s been cleared to play is even better news than it seems on the surface. We’re just glad he’s OK and we’re looking forward to him playing hoops this season — but probably not nearly as much as he is.

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Down Two Stalwart Programs, Considering the Big East’s Shaky Future

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor.

The ongoing and complex conference realignment situation certainly has all folks involved with the Big East from Providence west to Milwaukee and south to Tampa worried and rightfully so. This is the real deal and the outcome of this round of consolidation and realignment will have a revolutionary effect on collegiate athletics for decades to come.

While I will discuss things from a Big East perspective in this piece, everyone must understand why this is happening. Football runs college athletics, end of story. This is about football, money, TV markets/contracts and the survival of individual universities. Nothing else. Any effects on college basketball are purely collateral damage. It’s nice that the top of the ACC will be tremendous in basketball but that is not why Pittsburgh and Syracuse decided to join, nor the reason why ACC commissioner John Swofford decided to expand his league for the second time in eight years. Pitt and SU bolted because it is in their best interests to remain viable and in a stable conference membership situation. They saw the writing on the wall and came to the conclusion that the Big East couldn’t last as a 16-team conglomerate of schools with conflicting interests. As for the ACC, it was a proactive move and the conference has now assured its place as one of the four “super-conferences,” a distinct possibility down the road. The ACC made this move out of self-preservation, a concept that is key in understanding all of this.

It Would Be a Shame To Lose This Yearly Spectacle

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some scenarios regarding the future of the Big East’s 15 remaining members (if TCU doesn’t renege). All signs currently point toward Connecticut joining the ACC and Rutgers may soon follow the Huskies. The ACC needs two more members to get to 16 and while UConn seems like #15, the sixteenth team could be aforementioned Rutgers, Texas, Louisville, or even Notre Dame. Texas is an extreme long shot but you can never count them out considering they have the Longhorn Network. Louisville is a dark horse in this process because its football program seems to fit the profile of the other ACC teams but the Cardinals aren’t in an attractive TV market, nor is the university’s academic reputation up to snuff for the prestigious ACC but that is not going to be high on the list of drawbacks. A major red flag for the ACC will be Louisville’s 48th-ranked TV market according to Nielsen Media Research. I’d keep an eye on the Cardinals but I think it’s going to be Rutgers solely on the basis of television. The Scarlet Knights are attractive to the ACC because they can bring the New York City market directly into the fold. While Rutgers’ sports programs have never been anything to brag about, all that matters here is geography and television. The New York market (#1 in the country) includes every television set in northern and central New Jersey. It doesn’t matter if people in the professional sports-driven New York area care about Rutgers football or not because a certain percentage of college football fans will always watch. With more eyeballs in this area than any other, television revenue will be huge. The ACC is actively expanding its reach northward and by adding Rutgers and Connecticut it will achieve media dominance from Boston all the way down the east coast to Miami. Truly, the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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Around The Blogosphere: September 21, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on September 21st, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

Conference Expansion

  • John Marinatto’s Grand Solution Was Navy And Syracuse Fans Feel Better About Themselves: “The truth is, we just didn’t think John Marinatto had a plan. We didn’t trust that, at the end of the day, he could make the right decision and steer the conference in the direction it needed to go in order to survive. We assumed the worst, that he would hitch his wagon to some desperate quick-fix solution that solved nothing long-term and only serve to drive home the perception that the Big East is living in the past and unable to truly move towards the future. In unrelated news, John Marinatto almost invited Navy to the Big East as a football-only member.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • UConn has some unlikely allies: Duke and Maryland: “On it’s surface this is good for UConn because the Huskies desperately want the ACC to expand, but the fact that Duke is pushing for this move says a lot about ACC priorities” (The UConn Blog)
  • SEC wants Louisville, Kentucky does not: According to Chuck Oliver the SEC is interested in Louisville, but the move is being blocked by Kentucky. (Card Chronicle)
  • Schadenfreude: West Virginia Already Applied to, Turned Down by ACC: “I mentioned West Virginia as a possible candidate for ACC expansion yesterday, but dismissed them as unlikely and not a great match. Being turned down by the SEC did nothing to make them more attractive in my book. Looks like the rest of  the ACC agrees.” (Testudo Times)
  • Conference Realignment And Big Ten Expansion: What It Means To Purdue: A look at where Purdue might end up once at the conference realignment issues have been sorted out. (Hammer & Rails)
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Morning Five: 09.21.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on September 21st, 2011

  1. With all the hints and allegations flying across the country via texts, Twitter, and television reports (mostly Twitter, though), at some point beyond the decisions made by Texas A&M, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh, somebody is going to have to pull the trigger and commit somewhere, even if the Pac-12 is now closed for realignment business. Attempting to grease the rails a little, the SEC did Missouri a solid as of yesterday afternoon, offering the Tigers a spot in that conference but still allowing them to see what happens to the Big 12. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, though, has spoken out frequently about how he’d prefer to keep the Big 12 together and stay put, but we don’t know if his statements could be fairly applied to a revamped Big 12, or the now oft-speculated Big 12/Big East hybrid. Still, what a nice turn of events for Mizzou. Some schools don’t have anyone that wants them and are getting nervous. Missouri has the SEC as its fail-safe, and that’s not a bad spot to be in right now. The scuttlebutt is that this won’t happen, now, but the SEC needs a 14th school for (gag reflex initiated) football reasons, and it has to come from somewhere.
  2. Jim Boeheim’s rant yesterday (see yesterday’s M5 or our Tumblr feed at right) provided a refreshing dose of logic on Realignment-ageddon and is so far the best discourse on what will probably happen as a result. As far as why this is happening, look no farther than yesterday’s piece by Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy in which he explains why this nonsense began, what’s perpetuated it, and how astonishing it is that some pretty smart folks are making such colossal blunders, here. A description of the actions of college presidents over the last six weeks as “an unprecedented bacchanal of jealousy, mistrust, fear and conceit?” Oh, yes. Get yourself more of that.
  3. A couple of days ago, DeCourcy penned an article making the claim that Pittsburgh’s defection to the ACC would all but ruin the Panther basketball program. On Tuesday, Mike Miller of NBCSports.com’s Beyond the Arc published his counterpoint, asserting that things won’t change that much, and he has a snippet from a recent interview of Jamie Dixon as part of his evidence in which the head Panther says these conference switches “won’t be quite as much change as it may seem initially.” What’s Dixon supposed to say, though? He’s not going to show up for an interview and say, “Man, we are totally screwed. And I’m so outta here.” We enjoy the opposing takes from two experts in the field of college basketball, and that’s at least one good thing about all the realignment talk — the people who do care about basketball have a few new points for gentlemanly debate.
  4. In any conflict, resolution is most effectively and quickly achieved when the belligerents and all immediately affected parties put themselves in a room, come together face to face, and have it out. The Big East had its “come-to-Jesus” meeting last night, according to the great Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News. According to Weiss, this get-together of bigwigs resulted in every remaining school — yes, both the football and non-football schools — pledging to stay put as the conference now puts the full-court press on a couple of candidates to take the places of Syracuse and Pitt. Among the candidates mentioned: Army, Navy, and Air Force. That is not a typo.
  5. Before the Pac-12 slammed its doors shut last night, Oklahoma had been rumored to be headed everywhere from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten to the SEC or a sewn-together, refurbished Big 12. That last option, according to Barry Tramel of The Oklahoman, is only possible if current Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is removed and Texas’ new Longhorn Network is restricted in exactly what it can show, among other demands. If this was leaked intentionally by OU brass, we don’t exactly know why, since it doesn’t look like a final good-faith attempt to keep the conference together as much as it does extortion or an example of Oklahoma holding the conference hostage. What we found especially funny is this photo that made it to us (and countless others) through the Twitter grapevine of SI.com’s Andy Staples and Leila Rahimi, a reporter for KXAN in Austin (Hi, Leila!) who took the pic. Nice ad placement in a story referencing Oklahoma’s unhappiness at how the Big 12 has become a bunch of satellites revolving around the Jupiter that is Texas, don’t you think?

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Reports Say Pac-12 Will Not Expand

Posted by jstevrtc on September 20th, 2011

Moments ago, ESPN’s Andy Katz and The New York Times’ Pete Thamel tweeted that the Pac-12 will not expand beyond 12 teams. This news follows a conference call of the presidents of the conference’s member schools that took place earlier tonight.

So, now where are we? If the Pac-12 stays put, does that open things up for the Big 12 and Big East to expand and attempt to push the Pac-12 into a position of lesser relevance? Are Oklahoma and Texas now blowing up the phones at the SEC offices, pleading for one of what appears to be two remaining spots, or will Oklahoma now have to reconsider sticking with the Big 12 after issuing the conference its bizarre ultimatum on Tuesday? Will Missouri tell the SEC thanks-but-no-thanks? More on this as things develop. What a soap opera this has been, and continues to be.

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Around The Blogosphere: September 20, 2011

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2011

If you are interested in participating in our ATB2 feature, send in your submissions to rushthecourt@gmail.com. We will add to this post throughout the day as the submissions come in so keep on sending them.

News

  • Calhoun on expansion: UConn needs to do what’s best for UConn:  Jim Calhoun offers his thoughts on what UConn should do. (The UConn Blog)
  • Jim Boeheim Grinning & Bearing It, Barely…: “Obviously, Jim Boeheim hates the idea of Syracuse going to the ACC. You can give me all the official statements you want. We all know they’re B.S. and the idea of SU playing Clemson & Florida State instead of Georgetown and Villanova makes him vomit.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • Jerime Anderson Reinstated: The senior guard was suspended two games for stealing a laptop. (Bruins Nation)
  • Maryland (and Duke?) Wants the ACC to Keep Expanding: “Per the Jeff Barker at the Baltimore Sun, the Terrapins’ athletic department is partnering with – get this – Duke, in privately pushing for the addition of two more teams, thereby making the ACC the first conference to go to 16.” (Testudo Times)
  • UM Hoops to Host Crisler Arena Open House: “The University of Michigan men’s and women’s basketball programs will host an open house on Friday (Sept. 23) from 5-8 p.m. at Crisler Arena.” (UM Hoops)
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Big East to ACC: Syracuse Reacts…

Posted by DC on September 20th, 2011

Daniel Connors is a full-time student at Syracuse University and an RTC contributor.

Monday morning was like any other morning here at Syracuse. The sun rose, the birds chirped, and the professors lectured. But something was different. The Syracuse student body woke up to an e-mail that the university will be joining the ACC.  Only 72 hours earlier the idea of Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East had not even been leaked. Conference expansion had been a newsworthy topic of discussion, but this news seemingly came out of nowhere with the New York Times’ Pete Thamel breaking the story Friday night. The Big Ten had rumored interest in the Orange, but Texas A&M and West Virginia were the headliners in potential switcharoos, not us. We were happy in the Big East, for now at least. I guess we thought wrong.

Can This Game Really Disappear From the Schedule?

Rivalries are at the heart of college sports. As much fun as it is for us to cheer on the Orange, it is just as fun to hate the Hoyas and Huskies. So naturally, Syracuse fans and students are questioning what will happen to these longstanding rivalries that have become an integral part of the student experience at Syracuse.  “It’s a big move that’s been coming and I’m excited for the future,” Matt Shadle, a Syracuse sophomore said. “Hopefully we can retain the rivalries through out-of-conferences games. If not, new rivalries will have to be formed.”

Although Syracuse will no longer have conference games against familiar foes like UConn, Georgetown, and Villanova, Orange fans are excited about hosting Duke and North Carolina in the Carrier Dome.  Ben Glidden, a junior at Syracuse, said, “I think it’s a smart move for Syracuse … it adds a lot of excitement to basketball playing with the likes of Duke and UNC.”  Students that I spoke to all mirrored that opinion and look forward to clashing with the two storied programs from Tobacco Road.  Phillip Thomas, the starting safety on the Syracuse football team also seemed optimistic  about the move, citing an increase in competition by stating, “It’s great for our program to be able to face UNC, Virginia Tech, Miami, FSU, and others.” Thomas added that he “couldn’t be happier.”

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Catching Our Breath: Conference Realignment Scenarios as of Tuesday Morning

Posted by rtmsf on September 20th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences and a frequent contributor.

With this weekend’s out-of-the-blue bombshell that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were leaving the Big East behind in order to accept membership in the ACC, the wave of conference realignment that is sweeping the nation has reached critical mass. Even with last year’s moves turning the Pac-10 into the Pac-12, adding a twelfth team to the Big Ten (among other things), and this summer’s talk of Texas A&M bolting for the SEC, there was still a chance that all of this would settle down and we’d be looking at a conference landscape that mostly looked pretty similar. No more. While the Big 12 has been on a death watch for weeks now, all of a sudden the Big East has jumped its place in line and the conference is scrambling to maintain some sense of order while its member institutions look for soft landing spots.  And with A&M to the SEC seemingly an inevitability, and with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at least (if not Texas and Texas Tech as well) likely headed to the Pac-(fill-in-your-choice-of-numbers-here), the era of superconferences appears to be upon us. So, before things change again, let’s take a quick look around the nation at the conferences as they stand today, how they could change tomorrow and how that will effectively alter the college basketball landscape.

courtesy: The Football God

Big East

Today: TCU joins the conference next season (although apparently TCU and the Mountain West have had a conversation or two in recent days about how good they had things before the Big East got in the way), with Pittsburgh and Syracuse as of now bound to the conference for this year and the next two (with buyout negotiations likely still to be considered), putting the league at 17 basketball teams (nine in football) for 2012-13 and 2013-14, then down to 15 (seven in football) starting in 2014-15.

Tomorrow: Those numbers above are assuming that the ACC doesn’t snap up Connecticut and Rutgers (the two most mentioned names) and West Virginia isn’t able to find safe refuge as the 14th member of the SEC. In short, football in the Big East is in severe trouble, as are some of the historic rivalries in one of the nation’s premier college basketball conferences. If the ACC picks off a couple more Big East football programs, the conference has to start over more or less from scratch, with Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati left scrambling for a home. If there is a way for the Big East to stave off football extinction, it is likely at the hands of the death of the Big 12. If Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech take up with the Pacific Coast, maybe the Big East snaps up Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri, and can carry on as a (hopefully) rebranded league.

Basketball: Nevertheless, there could still be a strong basketball conference here, regardless of what happens to Big East football. If Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, DePaul, and Notre Dame want, they could maintain a pretty solid eight-team conference among themselves, (provided ND isn’t somehow pressured into joining the Big Ten), or even snap up a handful of teams from the Atlantic 10 (Xavier, Dayton, St. Joseph’s, etc.) and carry on that way. Still, while hoops fans can console themselves with the prospect of North Carolina, Syracuse, Duke and Pittsburgh matching up with each other on Semifinal Saturday of the ACC Tournament, the sad fact is that the spectacle that is the Big East Tournament at the Garden is about to take a major hit.

ACC

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