As was noted just a little while ago, the Big East looks to be on the verge — for the final time, we hope — of adding five new schools in both football and basketball, including Boise State.
Officially, it’ll be Boise State and San Diego State for football-only, and Central Florida, Houston and SMU as full members.
It’s a mess, a hodgepodge — whatever you want to call it.
The striking, and head-shaking, graphic of what the Big East will look like come 2014 can be seen here in THIS PICTURE courtesy of Bryan Fischer of CBS Sports. Of course, it should be noted that it includes highlighted states for both football-only and basketball-only members, so not every team will play one another.
Still. Just, wow.
I understand that college football is a business, and the Big East is doing what it believes will help it keep its automatic BCS bid (it’s sad that it comes down to that), but this has taken conference gerrymandering to a whole new level.
The Big East isn’t east… exclusively; it isn’t big… although you can insert your own punchlines there.
So should the Big East consider changing it’s name?
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t have the brand recognition of the Big Ten, SEC, or even the Big 12 — at least in football. And what brand recognition it does have in football… well, you guys know.
You could make an argument that the Big East should keep its title as-is because of the reputation with basketball, where it rakes in TV rights dollars, but isn’t that part of the reason why the Big East is in this situation to begin with? Because of consideration given to the basketball side?
And, as our own Mike Miller opines, perhaps Big East basketball won’t survive as it’s known today.
The Big Ten can stay the Big Ten — and, heck, they can name their divisions Legends and Leaders — because they’re the Big Ten. The Big 12 has two programs — Texas and Oklahoma — married (at least in business) to that conference title. Branding is one of the most important aspects to the financial health of conferences, institutions, etc. Schools like Texas, for instance, fight tooth and nail to protect the Longhorn brand.
Even the new Pac-12 is a brand, and commissioner Larry Scott has done as great a job as anybody selling that brand.
Brands are created and sold in the hopes that we’ll find a relationship to it, that it will invoke some some emotional connection.
The Big East needs to understand how branding can help, or in its current case, be detrimental. The brand of Big East football is a joke. Now’s the chance for change. Conference expansion is obviously not about the consideration for the athletes; the Big East wouldn’t bring in Boise State, which has no significant TV market and is a traveling nightmare, if it was.
The choice to bring in the Broncos was a branding and football decision.
If I’m the John Marinatto, I’m hiring the best marketing and PR firm money can buy and re-work the brand. Why continue to associate with something that’s stood for failure and punchlines the past few years?
The Big East is starting over — again — isn’t it time the name, the meaning, the atmosphere does as well?
Sound off below with your thoughts.