Big East basketball schools get what they wanted

Keeping the Big East football programs under their thumb in perpetuity was never going to happen. Instead of a light touch, the Providence cabal went in whole hog, perhaps rightly recognizing that they were in no way viable without the undermining half of the league at every opportunity. The eight dwarfs forced an incompetent John Marinatto onto the conference as commissioner, and were determined earlier in this year to not only shoehorn an inept Villanova football program into the conference (aided by a generous subsidy from the other football teams.) As such, Pittsburgh and Syracuse are now flirting with (who else), the ACC, acting presumably in preemptive measures to stave off a looming SEC raid. Guess that talk of raiding Maryland/BC or of colluding with the ACC will all be for naught.

They may be greedy, short-sided, and pathetic, but they were not necessarily stupid; that power play, along with a single-minded determination to sign with ESPN for pennies on the dollar were surely motivated by the fear that this precise scenario would play out. They wanted to lock in one last payday for basketball, with zero concern about upping football revenues through competitive bidding. So no, this isn't BC-esque treachery.The Big East forced Pittsburgh and Syracuse's hand, just as they forced the hand of the six other football programs that would bolt from the conference like rats off a sinking ship. It's no indictment of Big East football. The parties involved made the best of a bad situation considering they were being sabotaged and undermined at every turn from internal enemies.

The Big East isn't dead yet, but with the Big XII on life support, any looming speculators will inevitably start moving on to the next-weakest party. If Eastern Football (tm) is to survive in some form, the eight football schools need to act immediate to force a split in the conference and expand. The ACC is locked into a crummy television deal. The Big East is the only property hitting the market soon, and that makes adding a Kansas or Missouri realistic and feasible in a conference not run by leaders actively rooting against football. Such an all-sports conference  would have legitimate negotiating leverage over possible television partners if they added more game inventory, and that remains the only hope if these rumors are true. Maybe, just maybe, this is one last power play to force the issue to a headway. Marinatto has to go and the conference has to split, and these headlines may be the last, best, only hope to force change before it truly is too late.

Update: according to Brett McMurphy, who's practically been a mouthpiece for Marinatto over the past year, Syracuse and Pittsburgh are gone. That's what'll happen when you run the conference as a dictatorship, with half of the members having no say and completely subservient to the other half.

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