"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, June 12, 2010

High Stakes Realignment – 94% of 4-stars chose BCS or Memphis

The Big East gives 20% to 25% of all US Television sets access to Marquette basketball games, which is crucial to those of us who don’t live in Chicago or Wisconsin. More important, it provides advertising in New York and elsewhere that the University could not afford to buy, and has helped MU land nine 4-star or better players since joining the Big East.

Yes, the stakes of the current realignment are high. Signing even a single 4-star player in a class is a rare feat if you are not in a BCS conference. Last year 83 four- or five star recruits chose either Memphis or a BCS school, leaving only St. Joe’s, Dayton, Xavier, LA-Monroe and Florida International with ONE 4-star player, and the other 278 non-BCS programs without a single 4-star player.

For the second time in six years, the Big East’s status is threatened by Conference expansion. However, the Big East came out even stronger in basketball after the ACC’s 2004 raid of Virginia Tech and Miami, and there are five scenario’s under which Marquette and Big East basketball could not only survive but come out as strong or stronger.

First, let’s acknowledge the current BCS pecking order, since only the top 4 to 6 conferences on this list will retain BCS status for football purposes:

1. Big 10 - $23 million payout
2. SEC – over $17 million, tops in football now
3. Pac10 – if they get the Texas teams, they nail down the No. 3 spot
4. ACC – would be the 4th BCS ahead of Big East unless…
5. Big East – see below
6. Mountain West Conference – Boise State and eyeing Big 12 leftovers
7. Big 12 – on brink of dissolving unless Texas keeps it together this week

Thank goodness B10 picked Nebraska over Rutgers first

As scary as this week was, the important good news is that by picking Nebraska instead of Rutgers, the Big 10 actually set a realignment in motion that – temporarily at least – made the Big East the 5th strongest BCS conference, ahead of the endangered Big 12. The Nebraska move provides five potential scenarios that keep Marquette with BCS-level status:

1. The Big 10 does not go to 16 teams. The first thing we all need to remember is that the Big 10 does not need to go to 16 teams. They remain No. 1 with only the SEC anywhere close, and going to 12 teams adds the lucrative Conference title game. The immediate impact of adding another four more teams would be for all 12 Athletic Directors to give up about $6 million per year, so the ADs are going to have to feel pretty confident in the long-term benefit of a 16-team conference to give up that kind of money while the economy stinks. If the Big 10 doesn’t go to 16 teams, then the Big East could remain largely intact to remain a 5th BCS Conference.

2. Notre Dame joins the Big East in football. I’ve rooted against Notre Dame football since they beat Bama in 1971, but if they were to choose the Big East over remaining independent or joining the ACC or Big 10, they would assure the BCS-status and I’d grudgingly be very thankful.

The first two scenarios would solve the threat without the Big East doing anything proactive, but if they don’t happen, there are still three proactive steps the Big East can take to stay one of four to six elite conferences.

3. The Big East acquires Kansas, K-State and perhaps even Missouri. Make no mistake, the Mountain West hopes to pass the Big East in the pecking order by adding K-State and Kansas to their recent acquisition of Boise State to make the case that they should take the BCS spot. TCU will fight against allowing Baylor into the conference. If the Big East were to claim the Kansas schools and any other combination of Baylor and Missouri, it can stay ahead of the MWC, make the case for BCS renewal, and create an incredible basketball conference.

4. The Big East passes a weakened, SEC-raided ACC. Right now the assumption is that if we go to four 16-team Super Conferences, then the ACC beats out the Big East for the fourth and final spot. However, just remember that the Big 12 was way ahead of the Big East until the potential raid by the Pac 10. Here in SEC country there is some talk of a pure Florida-Virginia grab by the SEC (Miami, Flo State, Virginia and Virginia Tech let the SEC dominate the Florida markets and add DC and Virginia’s Hampton Roads market). This would leave the ACC with five teams from the Carolinas to go along with Georgia Tech, Maryland and Boston College. While the ACC would certainly try to raid the Big East to replace those teams, it also creates the possibility that Boston College would get tired of fighting to make it to an ACC championship game attended by 7,000 fans, and come back where it belongs. If BC came back to the Big East, Maryland might consider a New York venue for their conference title after years of complaining about having to play in Carolina almost every year. Unfortunately, this scenario would become less likely if former Bama coach Gene Stallings is successful in getting Texas A&M to go to the SEC instead, because that turns their attention west instead of north to Virginia.

5. Dumped elite basketball-only schools pull off one extra High Major conference. If the first four scenarios fail and all the Big East football teams are lost, then the task is to form one basketball conference that is on par with the BCS conferences for basketball. Such a conference could compete for 4- and 5-star athletes by giving them the only major conference they could attend to be the big stars on campus rather than be overshadowed by the football players on campus. While the payouts would be much lower on a school-by-school basis, the budgets could be as strong since none of the schools would incur the huge costs of running a football program. Even assuming a worst-case scenario under which all Big East football programs left for the Big 10 and ACC, the remaining schools could combine with the Atlantic 10 and a few other elite programs to form a Conference as good as any BCS conference in basketball:

Butler, Dayton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Memphis, Old Dominion, Providence, Richmond, Saint Joseph's, Seton Hall, St. John's, Temple, VCU, Villanova and Xavier.

The only teams in that conference with football are Temple, which plays football only in the MAC, and Memphis, who hopefully would figure out something to do with possibly the worst Division 1 football team in the country.

In basketball, Memphis No. 55 Pomeroy ranking last year would have put them in the Top 8 of all six of the BCS conferences. In that new conference, Memphis would have ranked as the 11th best team. Under this scenario recruits could be offered a spot in the deepest basketball conference in the country, with New York and many other major markets intact, and it could be the only of the five major basketball conferences on which they could be the biggest stars on campus ahead of the football players at all BCS schools.

Crazy times – but we have hope.


Championships Matter said...

Looks like realignment is the non-event most intelligent readers of Cracked Sidewalks thought it would be. With Texas, Texas A&M et al staying put in the Big 8/10/12, there's little need or taste for any additional realignment.

The Big East stays intact and Notre Dame stays independent for now. The result is we continue to move up toward being a real national contender. All you nattering nabobs of negativism that worried about tomorrow failed to see that money that is earned in Texas should stay in Texas. That hasn't changed a bit now.

Now, back to Basketball and GO WARRIORS!!!!!!

Jimmy said...

I wouldn't worry too much. You guys will be fine...at last mark, didn't you spend second to only Duke in men's basketball recently? There's a place for Marquette in the BCS-level conferences, even if it doesn't include football schools.

I'm a bit biased. Not because I have any love for Marquette, but because I know the buffer in conferences will always exist with Marquette above Milwaukee. If Marquette stays up top, Milwaukee can sneak into the next tier.

Matt said...

A solution to all of this would be to restart the football program, but of course that opens a completely different discussion. We would have to add womens's sports, where would they play, etc.

I'm just glad it looks like the Big East will stay intact for now.