"We are committed to each other"...so says Big East commissioner John Marinatto after a meeting with Big East Presidents on Tuesday evening. When I first read that I wondered if the school Presidents had their fingers crossed when they said it. Actually, I don't have to wonder as it seems some of them did. Rutgers and UCONN did not raise their hand, cut their finger and share blood with the pinky best friends salute. Not a surprise. UCONN wants out and Rutgers believes, for whatever reason, that they are wanted by everyone and can't believe no one is taking them.
The recent decision to stop expanding out west with the Pac 12 seems to have folks in a good mood, but you have to wonder why exactly. The dominoes have not stopped, only delayed. The only reason the Pac 12 said no was Texas' unwillingness to equally share their $200+ million revenue from the Longhorn Network. UCLA's Athletic Director, Dan Guerrero, made that perfectly clear to some of us a few weeks ago at a function in Westwood. It simply wasn't going to fly if Texas wasn't going to share and that's exactly what happened.
As a result of the Pac 12's decision, the Big 12's impending doom has been put on hold and might become more of a headache for the Big East. A few short days ago it was entirely possible that OU, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech were going to the Pac 12 leaving the Big 12 in complete ruin without any leverage at all. Instead, the Big 12 has those four schools still in the fold. Missouri may leave for the SEC, but nothing is finalized yet.
What becomes of great concern now is the commitment of the so called Big East schools. UCONN and Rutgers want out. West Virginia badly wants out, but was denied by the ACC and SEC. Louisville would love to keep the Big East together but with all the uncertainty is potentially looking at...gasp....you guessed it...the Big 12. TCU may be another. Notre Dame's status has been almost forgotten in all of this, but the Big Ten and ACC would love them to come over. The ACC has even agreed to let them stay independent for football but play all other sports in the ACC.
One has to think that Marinatto will desperately try to shore up his football roster as soon as possible with Central Florida and probably Houston for all sports and perhaps, as rumored, Navy for football only. Whether he holds firm to forcing Syracuse and Pitt as members for the next 27 months will be fun to watch. In one sense it's a shot across the bow to other members that might consider leaving. However, it also ties his hands a bit in adding new members because he has two schools in lame duck status that are occupying slots. As a matter of practicality, don't be surprised if that 27 months is reduced if additional schools are added to the Big East. Besides, not all members want Pitt and Syracuse to be punished and have to wait.
The new reality....