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Big East not looking to expand into footprint states right away

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Because the Big East doesn’t care about football, of couse.

They care about basketball and holding their tournament in the Mecca of all basketball arenas, Madison Square Garden. And I get it — there are few things more exciting than the Big East tourney in the Garden — but even Big East basketball is now suffering because of the inability of commissioner John Marinatto to do what’s best for the football side of things.

And football is the breadwinner.

If the Big East cared about football at all, Central Florida and Houston would already be, or on their way to becoming, football-only members of the Big East. Conference realignment has taught us that being proactive is the only way to come close to guaranteeing your conference won’t be picked apart like a carcass  — and that’s not limited to expansion. Fortifying and raising exit fees; updating television contracts; revisiting revenue distributions — these are items crucial to maintaining long-term stability.

Marinatto tinkered around with Villanova for a year trying to figure out a way to get the Wildcats up to Division 1-A.

Now that Syracuse and Pittsburgh have departed for the ACC, not to mention that every other football member will jump at will for the next best opportunity, the Big East is left trying to scrape the bottom of the non-automatic qualifying pool. And, still, Central Florida and Houston are nowhere to be found atop the short list of candidates to replace two tradition-rich (and one founding) members.

Why? Because the Big East doesn’t want to look beyond states where conference members already reside. Case in point: South Florida president Judy Genshaft, who spoke in front of the Hillsborough County legislative delegation today, and said the Big East is looking to get away from states like Florida and Texas when it comes to inviting new members.

I am not stopping any university from coming in,” Genshaft said about the rumor USF was blocking UCF’s entry into the Big East. “What is happening is the league, or the conference, now is looking at schools and they have looked very much at schools that are not in any of the states that are represented by the Big East schools right now. The ones that they’re looking at right now, they do not sit in any state that the Big East schools currently are in.”

Sorry, Central Florida; sorry, Houston. Your fertile recruiting grounds, competitive football programs and guaranteed once-a-year trips to Florida and Texas just aren’t the top priority right now.

“It will be interesting if the SEC would open up their league for USF (or ACC),” added Genshaft. “But that’s not the way it happens. It’s very interesting. There are other leagues also but that’s not the way these leagues work.”

But the Big East isn’t like the “other leagues”. Not even close.

Frankly, it’s astounding that a gentleman’s agreement not to look in-state right away is even a criteria. Pickin’s are slim for the Big East and the conference is getting picked apart. Go out and get the best available program(s) for the conference’s bottom line and future stability. That should be their only criteria, and the fact that the Big East hasn’t done that already is why two prominent members left and why more want to leave.

If the Big East had done what’s best for football over the past year, it may not have prevented Pitt and Syracuse from leaving, but it would have given the conference a better shot to survive.

Now, it’s hanging on life support.

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13 Responses to “Big East not looking to expand into footprint states right away”
  1. slypenny says: Sep 27, 2011 7:25 PM

    They are not grabbing anyone right now, because those still left are working the lines to exit. So knowing more is coming who is going to agree on anyone added and raising the exit fee. Until those issues are settled you will not get schools to add schools and make it harder for them to exit. The FB schools recognize that the ship has sailed, time to move on if you can.

  2. thefiesty1 says: Sep 27, 2011 7:43 PM

    The Big East should just be a BB conference and certainly not be an AQ in football.who wants to see a UConn or or Rutgers in a BCS game?

  3. bearcatfan05 says: Sep 27, 2011 8:01 PM

    Well Marrittio still should be fired. Oh well UC, Louisville, WVU, TCU, and USF will be in the BIG 12 starting in 2013.

  4. pastabelly says: Sep 27, 2011 8:41 PM

    This all started back in 1985 when those morons had the unmitigated gall to refuse admission to Penn State. The same moronic behavior kept on going and Miami, VA Tech, and BC left. Now, it’s Pitt and Syracuse. WVU was refused admission by the ACC and UConn and Rutgers both want to leave. What does that tell Marinatto?

  5. jshalk123 says: Sep 27, 2011 10:22 PM

    Um football only? I can guarantee you that the Big East could offer UCF and Houston football only and they would be turned down by both. No school is going to doom the rest of its sports programs to get into a conference on life support.

    The fact that the Big East even has thoughts of trying to get “football only” members shows that they still don’t get it. Their conference isn’t even close to having that kind of pull.

  6. soper77 says: Sep 27, 2011 10:41 PM

    Guaranteed trip to Florida? Is that what this is about? USF/ Tampa isn’t enough? Why not add FIU too? I here it’s real nice in Miami and I’m sure they have fertile recruiting grounds as well.

    If the Big East cared about football they would add East Carolina. Scratch that. They would have added East Carolina years ago. Yes, there is a tv market. Academics? Underrated.

    The Big East’s biggest concern is maintaing the illusion that they still deserve aq status. Service academies seem to be best for this magic trick. But, as fate would have it nobody has been fooled. The Big East Execs seem lost, the teams potentially joining the Big East are scared and the teams in the Big East are scared.

    C’mon Big East. When are you going to stand up for yourself and create a “football” conference? Be brave, Big East. All of this fear has not served you or your members well. You are getting killed. It is time to blaze your own trail.

    The Big East may not like East Carolina and East Carolina may not truly like the Big East, but I hope somehow someway they get stuck with each other. For both of their sakes.

  7. burntorangehorn says: Sep 28, 2011 12:14 AM

    Houston is far from TCU. There’s a large buffer between the two. Also, TCU doesn’t have much of a fanbase in Texas, and while picking up Houston might not add an enormous number of interested TV sets (they’re third at best in terms of fanbase in Houston–possibly fourth or fifth), they really add a lot more than TCU did.

  8. elm0helmet says: Sep 28, 2011 12:29 AM


    Don’t get me wrong, ECU has, and always will be, a no brainer for the Big East to add to it’s football conference, but it needs more (a whole lot more) than ECU right now.

    I’m shocked that the football member AD’s don’t take the wheel and break away from the basketball only schools to give themselves some sort of control over the situation. This basketball-centric, Providence, RI leadership has tried to steer an unbalanced ship for years now without success.

    Athletic departments like Louisville and West Virginia’s have worked to create a substantial infrastructure only to be constrained by what’s also best for Seton Hall, St. John’s, DePaul, etc. It never has made any sense.

  9. highoctane1 says: Sep 28, 2011 12:51 AM

    Thank God Pitt got out. Under the “Providence” leadership, the conference never understood the football side of things. Heck, they wouldn’t have even gotten TCU unless Pitt initiated it.

    Right now, the Big East has seven teams if you count TCU. It needs to try to add 5 more, and should concentrate on TV markets and recruiting bases. Competitiveness of the programs should be the third priority. Face it, none of the possible new schools bring a BCS caliber program – the conference will have to rely on WVU, USF, and TCU to keep their BCS numbers up in the short term. 4 teams – Houston, UCF, Tulane, Temple – should be no brainers to keep or enter 4 of the 7 best recruiting states and large markets. The fifth team can be Navy, and if they won’t come, ECU will give its first born to get into that conference.

    None of that will ever happen – they’ll probably add Memphis for the basketball.

  10. christopher525 says: Sep 28, 2011 1:04 AM

    Sounds like USF is looking to get out also, we could see the death of an AQ shortly.

  11. Steelbeard says: Sep 28, 2011 1:07 AM

    ECU has a 50,000 seat stadium and fills it regularly, has a history of travelling fans, proven record of success, and as of the last rankings is now in Tier 1 status.

    Plus, ECU is located in the backyard of the guys that just raided you, AGAIN.

    It’s obvious to see why ECU should be the number 1 candidate for BE expansion. The problem is that Providence basically controls the Big East, and leads them to doing stupid things that are only to serve the best interests of the basketball schools. They should have split from those leeches a decade ago.

  12. mddare007 says: Sep 28, 2011 10:43 AM

    The Big East and the MAC should merge.

  13. itstariq says: Sep 29, 2011 11:33 AM

    Football only? It would take some time, but I think that UH and UCF could eventually be fairly competitive in basketball. In fact, Houston currently has picked up 2 top 50 recruits for basketball for 2012.

    Expanding into the basketball scene in a city like Houston would make a lot of sense for the Big East. Especially with a school that’s made it to the Final Four a few times in the past and is showing signs of recruiting life with their new coach.

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