Skip to comments.Texas Christian, Villanova Picks Point Big East to Conference Tournament?
Posted on 11/30/2010 3:13:31 PM PST by dangus
The Big East's football expansion plans leave the conference with 17 universities, including non-Football members. That's a terrible number for scheduling; the only way the basketball teams can schedule an even number of games is if they play every other team only once. 18 teams would allow three divisions of six teams each. Any team would play the other five teams in its division twice, and one half of the twelve other teams in the conference. 18 sounds like worsening the problem of too many teams, but having three divisions could actually restore some rivalries, and return the conference to a sensible geography.
The following shows possible divisions if a team such as Central Florida, for instance, were added to the Big East:
Villanova (suburban Philly)
St. John's (NYC)
Seton Hall (NE NJ)
Rutgers (NE NJ)
Notre Dame (N Indiana)
Texas Christian (Ft. Worth)
Here, the Eastern Division restores most of the old Big East line-up into a geographically compact line-up rich in rivalries. The Central Division allows for the development of rivalries among large universities with football rivalries; Pitt and Syracuse could exclusively football rivals or teams from the original Big East. And the West features the rivals from the former American Division of the Conference USA. Schools with little in common could avoid each other; For examples, Seton Hall and Providence could avoid Cincinnati and Louisville, and Marquette and DePaul could avoid UConn and Rutgers.
Intriguingly, the Big East could have reached 18 teams had they chosen to invite a team other than Villanova to join the football conference. As a small school, Villanova was somewhat hesitant to upgrade their football program into the expensive Division I-AA league. But adding only one team, such as Central Florida, leaves the Big East one football team short of the twelve teams required by NCAA rules to host a conference football tournament. A 12th team also allows the creation of two six-team conferences, the most common configuration of I-AA football conferences. the Big East currently only plays seven conference games. Eight might be ideal, but ten is unthinkable, and the Big Ten (11)'s solution of skipping certain teams is simply ugly. There are, however, several ways of getting to 18 basketball teams, while getting a workable number of football teams:
ADDING 1 FULL MEMBER AND PROMOTING A TEAM INTO THE FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
Could Georgetown join I-AA football? Their team isn't as successful as Villanova's yet, but if they went to I-AA, as the only major-conference team in Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia, they'd have a great basis for expanding their program's reach. (The University of Maryland at College Park is just north of Washington, and is in the major Atlantic Coast Conference.) That would allow them to add a football team, without adding a basketball team. One more full member of the Big East would bring them to those desirable numbers of 18 teams in basketball and 12 teams in football.
ADDING 1 FULL MEMBER AND ONE FOOTBALL-ONLY MEMBER
Years ago, Temple played most sports with the Atlantic 10 conference, but football with the Big East. (The A-10 doesn't have a I-AA football conference.) Faced with poor attendance, and able to expand to eight teams without Temple, the Big East booted them. Since then, Temple has put together a better program, and boosted its attendance. But having two divisions would also allow the Big East to to schedule most of Temple's opponents to be nearby teams, cutting travel costs, and building rivalries. Villanova and Connecticut are much closer than former Big East members Miami and Boston College, while Temple could avoid playing teams like Louisville, Cincinatti and Texas Christian. Villanova wouldn't be happy with Temple joining as a full member, but the positives of Temple joining as a football-only school might outweigh the negatives for both teams. It's the negotiations that'd be tough.
ADDING ONLY 1 SCHOOL AND STAYING AT FOOTBALL TEN TEAMS.
Dayton, Xavier and St. Louis are center-city, Catholic institutions with renown basketball programs and no 1-AA football teams. Any one would fit well among Notre Dame, Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John's, Seton Hall, and Providence. The basketball-only teams might be eager to see one of those teams join to retain some collective influence in a conference which was founded around basketball but threatens to be dominated by football. Currently, there's no ten-team football conference team with divisions, but since ten is an even number, it could be done; In fact, it would allow the Big East to stay with only seven conference games, if they wanted to.
Football Programs which might join.
Central Florida is a huge school, trying to increase its visibility, with an improving football program; joining the Big East would help it develop other sports programs. Memphis is a great basketball program dying in Conference USA, which already lost most of its better basketball programs to the Big East and the Atlantic Ten, but the football program is weak and brings in a rather small television market. Flame away, but although Maryland would have a smaller TV contract with the Big East, playing Temple or Georgetown, plus Villanova, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Connecticut would cut costs significantly; and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) is fading. In the short run, the move looks like a loser, but it could be far-sighted of Maryland to jump. And maybe even Boston College is regretting their move to the ACC; they were certainly expecting to move up, not step down.
PREDICTION: Central Florida joins the Big East, setting off a push for either Temple or Georgetown to join the football conference.
That would be awful for fans. The ACC expanded a few years ago and we no longer play UNC twice in basketball and instead get to play Boston College. They are not a natural rival and i’ve never actually met a Boston College fan. One of the great things about school is the banter between people at work and the ability to make people at church squirm after your team wins. Play against a team with no overlapping fan base and wins aren’t as great and losses as bad. Bragging rights aren’t worth much if you don’t have anyone to brag to and I can’t imagine that fans in Syracuse, New York will have much of a real rivalry with fans from Texas. Certainly they won’t travel in the numbers they would against a regional rival.
It isn’t good for the “student” athletes either to have to travel so much and miss even more class than they already do. Then again everyone knows that college sports haven’t been about education and the student in student athlete for a long time.
Has any of this been approved by Obama? Don’t print this stuff unless it’s been approved by Obama!/sarc
Actually, if you read the article, I explain how the conference could “shrink by expanding.” With 17 teams, teams in the conference can only play rivals once, and must play teams which are completely alien to them. Going to divisional play would six of the seven original Big East members to play each other twice, the old CUSA teams to play each other twice, the football rivals to play each other twice, and avoid mismatches like Louisville v. Providence, or Marquette v. Connecticut altogether.
(Syracuse gets left out of the old Big East rivalries to some extent, but gets to play the core football rivals twice. And I bet they’d rather play South Florida than Providence, anyway.)
I like your creative thinking but I have two comments:
Football conferences don’t have “tournaments”. They have conference championship games if/when they get to 12 schools.
As weird as it sounds to have TCU in the Big East, it will sound even worse to say that they are in the West Division of the Big East. Kinda of like when the Atlanta Braves were in the West Division of the NFL and National League, respectively.
I’m also not sure how Syracuse will feel being left out of the “old school” East Division of your realignment but almost every time they split up a league, somebody is unhappy with it.
My guess is that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be glad to play against all the big schools of the Central Division (or whatever you want to call it). Huge schools in huge TV markets ought to keep the attendance figures up... and I would expect Syracuse could get matched up with UConn, Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John’s for some of their 6 out-of-division games. (They probably won’t mind missing out on Providence or Seton Hall, who would likely play DePaul and Marquette instead.)
As for the Western Division, maybe we could call the divisions “Atlantic,” “Eastern” and “Midwestern?” How would you feel about a “Midwestern” Division in Ft. Worth, Cincinnati, Louisville, Chicago, Milwaukee and Indiana?