Big Ten Expansion roundtable, pt. 2

Here at On the Banks, even if the various media reports from the past few days may be erroneous, the belief is still that Rutgers has a strong likelihood of joining the Big Ten conference at some point in the near future. It's an arrangement that makes sense from all sides. That's the view from Piscataway, and we'll see who the best prognosticator is if/when anything actually ends up happening, which may well be the case according to an article today in the Detroit News.

But on the other hand, the alternative during the dog days of the offseason is to create awkward YouTube videos, so onward with all speculation. Chas from Pitt Blather put together this mini-discussion, mainly including me I suspect so I'd be less compelled to rail against Sean from Troy Nunes in his comments section. For yesterday's initial installment, visit Pitt Blather. Part three will be posted tomorrow at Troy Nunes Is an Absolute Magician.

1. With all the scenarios thrown around about preserving the Big East, a lot of them seem implausible to some extent or another. A league that loses multiple teams may not be able to remain viable just by raiding 3-4 teams from C-USA. Alternatively, the Big East may not be able to lure a Notre Dame or ACC/Big Ten team without a significantly better television contract.
 
So my challenge to you is this. Is there any expansion scenario that actually makes fiscal sense to where the Big East can maintain an autobid BCS conference? At this point, is there any way to be proactive and fight off the Big Ten's advances?

TNIAAM: A proactive solution is pretty much out of the question because that would have required it to be done months ago.  And I don't think its possible to say to any legit BCS team, "Hey, leave your solid conference for our shaky one."  We can invite some more teams to join us but I don't foresee them kicking out any basketball-only schools so that could make for a disaster on the b-ball side.

Really the only solution in my mind would be to immediately set in stone plans to make a Big East Network.  It won't be what the Big Ten Network is but it still has potential, and some great markets to compete in.  Then, get every Big East team to commit to the conference by whatever means necessary.  And then really try to build from within.  Whatever it takes to get Villanova to move its football program up, do it.  That's all we really need as far as football numbers go.

PB: No.

Oh, you want a little more than that? I've written this before. The Big East's fate was sealed the minute it went to hybrid 16 in 2003. It created balance and tension. 8 basketball only schools (including ND) and 8 football schools.

The football schools -- almost as soon as they started trying to schedule 5 non-con games -- were bringing up the need to get at least a 9th football member. What has the reaction of Tranghese and then Marinatto always been? There's no good fit. No school that works. Etc.

The reality is that there were choices, but they weren't good fits for the basketball schools. UCF, East Carolina and Memphis. What a coincidence? The very same schools that would get tabbed if the Big East has to act now. Who is to say that if they had been given a chance to get in earlier, they wouldn't be better in football (Memphis) and at least marginal in basketball (UCF and ECU)?

That would have been proactive. Going forward with 1, 2 or all 3 of them earlier. Before the Big 11 looked into expansion. Build more rivalries and relationships with the programs.

No. None of them are great choices, but they are the only choices to the Big East. It is true now. And it was true for the last 7 years. It also would have meant that these programs would have been part of the BCS for this whole time and given the Big East a better chance to fight to remain part of the BCS.

Having said that, the closest thing to a scenario that I could see the Big East keep a BCS bid should they lose 3 teams or more to expansion, would be in conjunction with the carcass of the Mountain West. If the mass expansion and conference insanity happens as some scenarios are projecting. Consider the MWC after being raided by the Pac-10 for Utah and then the Big 12 acting after the Pac-10 claimed Colorado, the Big Ten grabs Mizzou and the SEC took Texas and Texas A&M needs four more and takes them from the MWC. They are down to 8 teams -- 9 if Boise is picked from the WAC.

Then have  Big East - Mountain West divisions. Play the teams in your divisions and 1 or 2 cross-division match-ups. Then a conference championship for the BCS bid.

OTB: The Big East football schools received $8 million dollars each in conference revenue last year. I would very much like to know what the basketball schools receive, but that is not a matter of public record as they are private schools. This is important because the non-football schools DePaul, Providence, and Seton Hall intuitively would seem to be revenue drags on the conference. No doubt John Marinatto and friends would never consent to cutting out these schools, but perhaps the football schools could force the issue if they threatened to bolt en masse. There has to be some kind of split along football lines;full or partial, amicable or heated; along with new leadership and more of an emphasis on football, which drives television revenue.

The ACC does not generate that much more revenue than the Big East. It's conceivable that the Big East could be within striking distance of them, especially if they had moved earlier on a network. If the conference's stability and future viability could be guaranteed, then you may not have seen a Boston College leave in 2003. While it's fairly unlikely that BC or Maryland could be lured north, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility, which is the case for adding Penn State or Notre Dame. I like Central Florida and Temple as additions, but neither would be an adequate band-aid to losing multiple schools.

It doesn't look good now for the Big East. The conference leadership has not shown any sort of commitment to football or evidence of a long-term strategy.

2. If you had your druthers, how would the conference alignments ideally look?

PB: I'm assuming you mean big picture. For all of the BCS Conferences.This is tough, because money conflicts with geography something fierce. I would prefer Pitt to be in more of an East Coast conference in terms of geography and rivals, but the money from the Big 10 is so much better.

There is something that just unfair about screwing teams that have made the commitment to play 1-A football get screwed out of conference -- and competition -- because they were in the wrong conference. Why does Duke or Wake have a better chance at survival than Louisville and USF? Vandy over WVU? (And yes, I know that this along the lines of what teams like Utah, BYU, TCU, etc. have been saying.)

I know, life is unfair. And honestly, as long as Pitt is still at the table I'll get over it quickly.

I guess I wouldn't mind seeing:

Big Ten go to 14 -- Pitt, Syracuse and Mizzou.
SEC also goes 14 -- Clemson and FSU
ACC freaks and goes 14 --  Rutgers, UConn, WVU and (USF or Louisville)
Pac-10 goes to 12 -- Utah and Colorado
Big 12 gets back to 12 -- TCU and Boise St. (BYU's refusal to do Sunday kills their chances and it is possible that New Mexico gets considered instead if they can get it together in football.)
ND remains Independent.

Mountain West weeps along with Cinci and either USF or Louisville

OTB: Joe Paterno's proposed all-sports conference in the 80's consisted of Boston College, Maryland, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, and West Virginia. Add Louisville and Connecticut to that lineup, and it's a perfect geographic representation of Eastern Football. The Lamberts would be proud.

TNIAAM: Speaking only for the Northeast, I would love to blow the whole thing up and put together a conference consisting of Syracuse, Pitt, Penn State, Rutgers, Boston College, UConn, Maryland, West Virginia, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, Virginia Tech and Louisville.  Ten football teams, thirteen basketball teams.  Maybe throw in Seton Hall to make things even.  Done.

After that, let the rest of the country sort itself out.

3. Even if the Big East had been more focused on football from the start and looked something like Joe Paterno's Eastern Conference plan, were raids from the ACC and Big East always inevitable? Don't forget, back in the 80's most of the Eastern schools were independent in football. You had all of the Big East members past and present, plus PSU, Miami, FSU, and South Carolina (both of whom were mentioned as Big East targets before the SEC and ACC expanded during that round). The SWC still existed, and there wasn't as much of an exclusive mentality on the top conferences. Any chance at all then?

OTB: Whatever problems there were with Joe Paterno's proposal, it should have been accepted. Once lost to the Big Ten, Penn State will never come back across that rubicon, and the Big East's future is not viable without a traditional power as an anchor. It'll always be vulnerable to raid.

Security could have been achieved by being more decisive in 1989. They could have cut the chord entirely from the basketball schools in 2003, which may have convinced BC to stay. It probably wasn't ever going to happen though with conference leadership not exactly being fair in their dealings between the two factions. I mean, this is a conference that refused to accept Rutgers and West Virginia as full members until RU started flirting again with the Big Ten in 1994. The insular basketball schools wouldn't accept Virginia Tech for five more years, which surely factored into their later decision to leave.

Dave Gavitt and co. wanted to rule the Big East as a fiefdom. This is the end result.


TNIAAM: Think of it this way...the idea of everyone giving up their independence to play in a conference probably sounded just as crazy 30-35 years ago as the idea of creating 16-team megaconferences sounds today.  The arguments made and the sentiment was probably exactly the same.  Now...we can't imagine the landscape without conferences.  And so I think it's all part of the natural progression of the sport. 

That's why most people are so gung ho about a playoff.  The bowl system is a nonsensical system from another time.  It made sense then.  It doesn't make sense now.  The sport progresses.  Unfortunately in that area, we don't seem willing to move with it.  In terms of megaconferences...I think we will.

PB: Hmm. Inevitable? No. If anything, it would have made the Big East (or JPEC) possible to raid the ACC. It's all hindsight, and it would have required Paterno dropping his insistence that the conference share all revenue except in football -- which did as much to doom the proposal as anything else.

You would have had PSU, Pitt, WVU, Rutgers, Syracuse, BC and Temple for sure. Rumors still swirl, that Maryland was willing at that time to jump. Who knows what would happen with VT?

Maybe Miami and FSU eventually join but I think in the early 80s, there would have been less interest in coming up north like that.

I don't think the Big 10 would be able to get Penn State, but there would have been a very interesting competition with the ACC. Would the ACC have stayed more focused on their basketball ties too long in this scenario? I just don't know.

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