It’s just another week in the Big East.
The commissioner resigns unexpectedly, and rumors of doom and destruction are repackaged and served up daily via Twitter and RSS.
The basketball teams are going to break off and form a new conference. Louisville and Connecticut want out. Boise State is going TCU.
Strangely, it’s something conference fans have come to expect. The Big East probably could rebrand itself with a bulls-eye in its logo.
During its relatively short (33-year) history, the conference has seen seismic changes. It has more than doubled in size from the original seven basketball schools, and since it added football as D-I sport in 1991, has had a revolving door with schools constantly coming and going. Despite two decades in which to settle on a unified identity, it seems to remain a strange hybrid of disparate interests.
The sad truth is Big East basketball and Big East football are mutually dependent. The strength of the brand comes from basketball, but the revenue and media attention comes from football.
So what’s the next step for the new commissioner?
Further expansion in football? One thing is plain: the Big East football is like the proverbial middle child. It just doesn’t seem to mesh with either end of the spectrum. The Northeast, though the birthplace of college football, does not field teams to compare with the strong programs in the South, West and Midwest. It cannot lure a program from top conferences into its ranks, but its teams nonetheless are easy pickings for the upper echelon.
When it does bring in another football program, it must look beyond its natural geography to find schools to complement its ranks. Even if it does attract a new program into in the football ranks, it has to "fit" with the basketball culture. And then it’s just a matter of time until another league’s expansion raids the Big East ranks.
Fracturing off the Catholic basketball schools? That could be the death knell to those programs which no longer enjoy their dominance of the 80s and 90s. What’s more it diminishes the league’s relevance and doesn’t change the fact that its football program is a repository for other conferences.
So … turbulence prevails.
Two things are sure though: Big East schools will continue to play football and basketball, and Big East writers will always have plenty of content for their columns.