Big East: We Won’t Sit Idly By and Wait For the Big Ten Pillagers

Posted by rtmsf on May 28th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences and an occasional contributor.

There was plenty of news that came out of this week’s Big East spring meetings: elimination of the double-bye in the Big East basketball tournament and the approved use of high-definition monitors for football replays (consider me amazed that this wasn’t the norm already), but there was also the underlying issue of the looming Big Ten expansion and how that will affect the Big East.

The most interesting line of the week came from rookie Big East commissioner John Marinatto, who said he is playing the Bud Fox to Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany’s Gordon Gekko (two characters from the 1987 movie Wall Street). “I feel like I’m Bud Fox and he’s Gordon Gekko,” Marinatto said. “He’s always honest and helpful with me. He’s brilliant and creative — just like Gordon Gekko — he knew all the corners to cut. He understands the landscape.” While the quote comes across as mostly complimentary towards Delany, it also underlines the fact that this is a high-stakes business situation, and begs the question as to whether greed is indeed good for the NCAA and its conferences.

Greed is Good?

But, despite Marinatto’s respect for his sparring partner here, he also made it clear that with all that is at stake for the Big East, they are not just sitting idly by and waiting to see what the Big Ten is going to do.  When the Big East lost Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC in 2004 and 2005, the Big East was able to respond by adding all-sport schools Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida and basketball-only schools DePaul and Marquette to create a new and improved version of the conference, one that morphed into arguably the best basketball conference in the country. But with the Big Ten rumored to be interested in current Big East schools like Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse (amongst others), once again they are on the defensive. “I look at this situation as another threat certainly,” Marinatto said. “It would be irresponsible not to be concerned about it. We’re trying to position ourselves as best we can. In my mind, you always play out what it is you might do, but we certainly can’t do that in a public forum.”

Fortunately, we, and others, can do that in a public forum. The New York Post has reported that representatives from the Big East have already had discussions with Atlantic 10 schools like Dayton, Duquesne, St. Joseph’s and Xavier about possibly joining up in the event of the Big East losing teams to the Big Ten. There has been speculation elsewhere about schools like Buffalo, Central Florida and East Carolina as all-sport replacements in case of the potential loss of, for instance, Pitt and Syracuse. And there is even continued talk about the Big East laying down an ultimatum to Notre Dame: join us in football or leave us in the rest of your sports. The thinking here is that even if Notre Dame decides to leave and is left without a home for its non-football sports, it would be more apt to join up with the Big Ten, perhaps saving schools like Syracuse and Pitt from its elongated reach.

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Morning Five: 05.27.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 27th, 2010

  1. A group in the Kansas athletic department has allegedly been bilking the university by an estimated $1-$3 million dollars in tickets to KU basketball and football games over the past half-decade as a result of a “blind spot” in the school’s auditing processes.  Over 17,000 basketball tickets and 2,000 football tickets were used in ways that included selling choice seats to brokers and offering freebies to neighbors.  This LA Times article about the two prominent SoCal ticket brokers who may have been involved in the scheme said other schools (unnamed) were also involved. Athletic Director Lew Perkins was not named in any of the allegations, but he is accepting responsibility for what transpired for happening on his watch.  It really hasn’t been a very good academic year in Lawrence, has it?
  2. The best part of this Gary Parrish article about loyalty (or lack thereof) among players and coaches?  John Brady and the word “coach” in the same sentence (three times).
  3. Big East consultant and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said yesterday that the conference is trying to be proactive with respect to dealing with expansion, if or when it comes to pass in the Big Ten.  He believes that the future success of the league ultimately will begin with the Big East’s long-standing relationship with ESPN.  We certainly don’t have the talent or experience to call his strategy into question, but at what point does ESPN reach saturation point with its multiple contracts with various leagues?
  4. We haven’t discussed the Ed O’Bannon ‘likeness’ case against the NCAA in a while, but it is moving forward in Oakland and some prognosticators say that several more big names will be joining the lawsuit soon.  Fanhouse asks if this case could end up becoming the NCAA’s Erin Brockovich, and they paint a compelling picture as to how it might come to pass.
  5. You know we love Vegas odds around here, so here are the very early lines you can get at as of now.  K-State, Georgetown, Missouri and Washington all look like good values.
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Morning Five: Earth Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 22nd, 2010

  1. Happy Earth Day, everyone.  Take care of it, folks.  Yesterday’s NBA Draft entries are getting even more obscure.  Ole Miss’ Eniel Polynice joined UTEP’s Arnett Moultrie in putting their names into the NBA Draft pool, which is now bigger than the NBA Draft itself.  Polynice is not projected as a draft pick, but he is due to graduate this spring and has decided that his college career is over.  At 6’11, Moultrie is a very raw but intriguing prospect who had a disappointing sophomore campaign but still could be worth a look in the second round for some team.  Whether that will be enough to keep him in the draft is unclear at this point.  It’s going to be a fun May 8 this year (the early entry withdrawal date).  One player expected to stick around is Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, who feels that he needs to handle the ball more to improve his draft stock for next year.
  2. New Wake Forest head coach Jeff Bzdelik was able to convince all five of the Demon Deacons’ top ten ranked recruiting class to stay with the program, a somewhat impressive feat given the negativity surrounding his hiring.  Clemson’s Brad Brownell is finding a little more trouble hanging onto star recruit Marcus Thornton, who is said to be considering many options other than the Tigers at this point.
  3. The big guns are coming out, as the Big East hired former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to help the league navigate the NWO of conference superpowers and whatever shakes out residually from Big Ten and other expansion in the coming years.  This is a very strong hire, and the rest of the major conferences should take note of this move.  If the Big East knows one thing, it’s marketing and business savvy.
  4. This is a cool piece at Fanhouse that describes the unknown connection between the two mid-majors who crashed the Final Four party in the last five seasons — George Mason and Butler.  Who knew that Dick Bennett had any part of this, but he did.
  5. In a possible Q-rating litmus test of Calipari vs. Pitino in the recruiting world, junior superstar guard Marquis Teague is expected to announce his choice of school this afternoon, and apparently Cardinal Nation is already throwing itself into the Ohio River over the following tweets from Tony Wroten, another junior guard who is claiming that Teague told him his choice last night on the phone:

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