You'd be hard-pressed to find a Rutgers fan that did not think Mike Tranghese's interview on WFAN today with Mike Francesa was anything other than the conflation of two of the most bloviated, self-important figures in all of sports; mind-melding in a perfect symmetry of factual errors, inconsistencies, hot air, and the most controversial opinions and commentary 1987-era talk radio has to offer. Yes, we get it. Fossilized Mike Francesa is set in his ways, so to say. Francesa literally said that he outsourced all of his opinions about college sports to Mike Tranghese and Dave Gavitt because they took his side in a dispute with the NCAA.
All Francesa cares about is who St. Jawn's is playing at the Gahden, and that's after largely ignoring college sports for the better part of the past decade. Who ever heard of a sports talk radio host who doesn't actually like debating sports? After multiple callers attempted to argue Francesa's points this afternoon, he repeatedly cut them off; ultimately declaring that "nobody cares about Rutgers! Rutgers is not a pimple on anybody's rear end!" Considering that about half of the WFAN staff consists of Rutgers alumni, he might want to hire a professional diet coke taster for the next few days.
More worthy of vilification is former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese. The biggest Big East critics, the ones who think Marinatto is the antichrist, plausibly could not have made up these quotes in their wildest fantasies. They would have been dismissed as unrealistic, too biased, too negative. But here's Tranghese, out and confirming that only cares about Providence College, he always only cared about Providence College (referring to PC as "us" and "we" throughout the interview), and he has zero concern over the nine all-sports Big East members imperiled the the disastrous tenure of Tranghese and his hand-picked successor, John Marinatto. Tranghese just went on New York City sports radio and shilled like a televangelist for donations for a small university in Rhode Island that bears the brunt of the responsibility for destroying the Big East.
Francesa: if the schools in the East decide to go off on their own, their first call should be to you. That'd be a labor of love for you to put it back together again. You know what? It can work in this time, it really can, it can control the Garden for the tournament, the schools have enough in this day and age, you know what, they have let the football schools wag the tail of the conference for a long time now. If they go back and be the league they were in the beginning, I think it can work, I really do. They have enough there, enough firepower, enough markets, I think. They'll miss Syracuse, no question, and it'd help if UConn was there, but let's be honest: Jimmy Calhoun is not gonna be there that much longer, so, that's gonna change too. So, uh, you know, I think it can work well, but they need a guy like, they need you to put it together for them. That's what they need.
Tranghese: Well my, my, the one person (sic) I'm gonna help is Providence College, and I've told them I'm gonna help them out of respect for Dave, because that was Dave's true love. In fact, uh, that's, uh, in lieu of flowers, that's where all of Dave's, that's where donations...
Just like you helped bully Memphis into the Big East? How pathetic is it that he immediately raises Dave Gavitt's bloody shirt. There you have it. Tranghese out and confirmed that not only did he only care about Providence College, but Dave Gavitt only cared about Providence College. That, more than Tranghese's bitter recriminations and half-baked conspiracy theories, is why Syracuse and Pittsburgh left.
It sure was lovely to hear Tranghese wax out about Gavitt's devotion to the greater good after a lifetime of pulling strings to give the Friars an unfair edge. How unnerving is it for a former Big East commissioner to publicly trash Rutgers's appeal in New York City as secondary to Notre Dame? Your job for the past decade was to Rutgers in New York City as a selling point for the league. Tranghese (and Francesa) are not only fossilized several decades in the past, but this interview clearly displays Tranghese held dual loyalties and blatantly favored Providence College. His presence in the commissioner's office was an insidious fifth column that brought the Big East conference nothing but ruin and instability. Attacking Big East members probably isn't the best strategy for keeping the league together.
Here's a real choice gem:
Tranghese: Big East football has not produced.
BECAUSE YOU INVITED THE 2003 ACC RAID BY TRYING TO DESTROY BIG EAST FOOTBALL IN 1998, YOU CORRUPT, LYING BUFFOON! GAVITT EXPLICITLY FORMED THE LEAGUE TO STRANGLE JOE PATERNO'S ALL SPORTS CONFERENCE IN ITS CRIB! Football runs the roost because football produces more revenue than basketball, which is clear to anyone who doesn't think that Led Zeppelin is at the cutting edge of rock music. How wonderful is it that we'll soon be able to recall the two Mikes' dream conference in the past tense?
It's been long-clear that Tranghese was a figure worthy of ridicule deserving a great deal of blame for the Big East's decline and eventual demise, which is why it was so distressing today to see a respected New Jersey sportswriter like Gannett's Jerry Carino singing Tranghese's praises. The iron hand of Providence was the only thing standing between South Orange and the Atlantic Ten, so of course Tranghese was a messianic figure worthy of praise for Seton Hall. Not so much for the eight schools suffering through decades of oppression. How Carino can single out Tranghese for praise, while at the same time burying John Marinatto? John Marinatto was Tranghese's hand-picked successor, shared the exact same resume (with the sole criteria being fealty to Providence College), and followed an identical strategy (bleeding the football schools dry with no room for compromise) to the bitter end.)