Sometime this weekend, Rick Pitino floated an idea that has sort of grown into something of a story. He suggested hiring Jay Bilas, former Duke Hoops star and current college hoops analyst for ESPN, as the new Big East Commissioner. He even suggested a salary--5 years 2 mil per.
This is a move that is likely to divide Big East fans even more. The basketball only schools and their fans will likely love it. A former college hoops star, who knows and loves the game will keep those teams relevant. The football first fans will probably hate it. ANOTHER BASKETBALL GUY?
Football fans in the Big East don't care about basketball. They'd love for basketball to just go away, fade into the ether until March when some Big East team can step up and win the tournament. They would rather a commish step up that is in the Tim Pernetti mold. Young, smart and football first. Take the sport that drives the bus (even though it's essentially only played once a week over the span of 11 weeks) and turn it into the Big East's strength. Find someone of that caliber.
But what a football fan is likely overlooking is this: Jay Bilas is in the Pernetti mold. Relatively young, very smart, a TV and law background. Bilas is the best of both worlds and he would work to keep the Big East relevant in hoops. At the same time, he's no fool. He's not going ignore the money making machine that is football, because he knows that supporting that sport would help the conference as a whole.
It would be foolish not to.
Bilas IS a good choice and would support the whole conference and all it's sports. Being the commissioner is not about being a football fan. It's about understanding how important football is. And understanding how important TV and football can be to the conference's well being.
At the same time, he'd work hard to keep basketball strong. A strong basketball conference helps the conference as a whole as well. The more teams in the Big East that participate in March Madness, the more money for the conference as well.
Bilas is a smart choice. Even as a Duke hater, I would hope this would happen.
Of course, I'm a basketball first guy, and I don't know who or if they're are other rumored candidates..... so have at it in the comments.
UPDATE: Jay Bilas has humorously commented on the idea to Adam Zagoria: "Interesting idea and really flattering. I'm not sure the Big East Presidents are ready for a Little Jeezy bumping in the Big East hallways. It would be nice to earn almost as much as the NCAA President, though."