John Marinatto did not know that Pittsburgh and Syracuse were leaving for the ACC until Brett McMurphy told him, but that did not stop Marinatto (or a close underling) from feeding McMurphy more supposedly anonymous quotes, as he has for months.
What's most troubling to Big East officials is that Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenburg is the chairman of the Big East's executive committee. Nordenburg also "put the brakes" on accepting a $1.3 billion media rights deal from ESPN this spring. Now Pitt is gone to the ACC. "It's sort of like the fox in the hen house," a Big East source said.
Pete Thamel has been talking to the same noted golfer.
But the Big East passed on a television contract that would have put it on the same financial plane as the A.C.C., and must now regret that decision. Big East officials are irate that Pitt led the charge (with Rutgers close behind) to reject that deal, meaning it jeopardized the league’s security in both the short term (by leaving) and in the long term (by helping shoot down a lucrative contract).
What a load of crap. After the football schools basically told Marinatto to get out of the way, he publicly praised the decision to wait as potential bounty for the league. The ACC is locked in at a 12-year, $1.86 billion deal - paying teams at thirteen million per year, the contract looks wildly undervalued only a year after being signed. The prospect of paying Big East teams eleven million per year, when Versus was willing to push the Big East past the ACC, was pure lunacy. Of course Marinatto and his cronies wanted to take the deal. Not only do they not care about football, which was driving the revenue boost, but they actually feared the eight/nine Big East football teams being flush with football cash. The proposal way in no way acceptable, and wouldn't have been worth the paper it was printed on after multiple teams left.
The status quo was not in any way sustainable. It was impossible not to see this coming; certainly every Rutgers fan was screaming about yesterday's events as a likely scenario for months. One wonders whether the Big East actually believes their own absurd spin, or recognizes that their actions alone are responsible for alienating every football program in the conference. Thinking ESPN's pittance was acceptable in the first place was the first shot across the bow. While the league's progressive athletic directors like Tim Pernetti and Oliver Luck were pushing to build a stable foundation for the league by aggressively expanding into new markets, the parochial schools acted well... parochial.
Along with corrupt, greedy, entitled, spoiled, and short-sighted, put upon by the very notion of Big East football not being subservient under their heel. They were terrified that they would be outvoted into irrelevance, valuing their stranglehold on power over the broader conference good. They forced the league's demise through every hostile action, such as brazenly suggesting that the football schools add a feeble Villanova program AND generously subsidize its move to FBS, when the football programs are already struggling to make ends meet. How is it possible to interpret those actions as anything other than a brazen middle finger? The Big East cartel tried to play chicken, and yesterday their carefully constructed web of cronyism and thievery came crashing down into oblivion.
With all due respect to Dave Gavitt after his passing, the Big East was a rotten abomination from the start, and its eventual demise cannot come soon enough. The cartel formed at the start specifically to crowd out Eastern independent programs, staving off all early attempts to bring balance between football and basketball, driving the East's marquee program in Penn State away into the waiting arms of the Big Ten. They were basically forced at gunpoint to add Rutgers and West Virginia in 1994, with the football schools ready to walk at that point; their rejection of Virginia Tech at that same moment creating hard feelings that encouraged the 2003 ACC raid. Mike Tranghese tried to give Big East football away to the ACC in 1998, planting the seed for his own destruction. When Tranghese rode off into the sunset, Providence College's stranglehold on the league office was only cemented with the elevation of Marinatto over the infinitely more-qualified Kevin Weiberg.
The seven remaining football programs in the league certainly have no recourse left but to flee at short notice. It's not that Syracuse and Pittsburgh are irreplaceable on the gridiron. They're not, and Big XII remnants like Missouri could easily pick up the slack in that respect. As Cuse and Pitt fans were so fond of reminding us last year when the Big Ten reportedly showed more interest in Rutgers, no Big East football program outside of West Virginia is truly essential. Whether it's the Big Ten, ACC, whatever, it's time to get out of this bleeding corpuscle of a conference before it drags Rutgers athletics down to into its all-encompassing, never ending sinkhole of perpetual failure. We can't afford to spend one second more joined with the eight programs with blood on their hands.
As far as the Big East football schools go, it's been real. We all had our differences, but at the end of the day, everybody each shared the same common goal, the same collective chip on their shoulder. They had a good run, and it doesn't matter what some yahoo sitting in a cornfield thinks. They proved that they belonged beyond a shadow of the doubt, and if not for internal, self-inflicted sabotage, Eastern football would be a force to be reckoned with to this very day instead of being about to enter hospice care. Those bastards killed it, and the remaining Big East football refugees should spare no act of spite or retribution to make them pay for their multitude of crimes. Enjoy playing in the new Atlantic 10. You've earned it.