Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If you pressed me to name which college football schools I favor, I'd say Penn State & Army.   I'm actually a casual & disinterested follower of college football. Any game is fine if I'm in the mood to watch & it's close. But  football is killing what is most likable about collegiate sports - tradition,  historic rivalries, regional conferences & competition.

I am a college basketball fan.  Football is undermining the Big East, arguably the best basketball conference in America, but the weakest of the conferences with an automatic BCS football bid.  There's two Big East schools in Jersey, one in New York City, one in Philly, & two - Syracuse & Notre Dame - with large alumni fan bases in the NYC metro area, The Big East Tournament, played at Madison Square Garden, has in some years been so exciting that it made the NCAA Tournament anti-climatic.

Syracuse & Pitt  have opted to join the ACC,  Sometimes Pitt  has a really good football team.  Syracuse hasn't been a power for a long time. Both have  great basketball teams year-after-year.

Briefly, it looked as if the Big East would crumble.  Rutgers & UConn would certainly receive invites from ACC, Rutgers possibly from Big Ten.

The Big East would still be a pretty good basketball conference if it dropped all the football schools. Assuming Notre Dame remains independent in football (the Irish have a very lucrative TV deal all to themselves), they stay. Plus St. John's, Georgetown,  Seton Hall,  Providence, Marquette, DePaul, & Villanova ('nova has a fledgling football program,  hoping to upgrade to BCS level but may now be having second thoughts.  That's 8 schools, back to the predominantly Catholic league it was at the beginning.  IF BE wanted to be larger, it could try to steal a school or two from Atlantic Ten,  Temple & Rhode Island would be good fits, especially the latter if UConn leaves BE.

But the fate of the Big East depended on what happened far away  in the Big 12 & PAC 12, conferences producing National Championship contenders every season.  If PAC 12  expanded to a superconference with four schools from Big 12,  the Big 12 would collapse,  creating a ripple effect as more Big East football schools sought the security of larger conferences,   the remaining Big East scavenging the ruins of Big 12.  PAC 12 wisely decided to stay a far west conference for now, Texas wouldn't compromise or share  its lucrative cable network, & the Big East stayed glued together, with one traditional football power nobody else wants, West Virgina, because it has a lousy media market. The Big East is also the only conference willing to let Notre Dame, with it's huge, exclusive TV contract,  stay independent in football. In all other sports from basketball to fencing, the Irish are a Big East school.

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