Can the Big East be saved?
Fri, 01 Oct 2010 19:51:52 GMT —
As recently as a few months ago I resisted Syracuse moving to another conference. The Orange are virtually synonymous with the Big East and a huge part of making it one of (if not the) premier basketball conferences in the country. Sure the conference has some football issues. While the concerns are nothing new the reality is that Syracuse football will struggle to compete as a bowl caliber team until they can get the schedule (and money) that comes with a conference like the Big 10. To be fair, SU has come a long way in two years. Doug Marrone and his staff have taken one of the most troubled teams in the country and given them discipline, focus and effective game management. The Syracuse staff have made the most of their strengths and done an admirable job dealing with some unfair setbacks. As good as the coaching staff has been, they still need help in recruiting and the help may only come with a move to another conference. Basketball, recruits want to play for a solid program in a good conference that will allow them to get minutes and shot attempts. Top tier recruits can be scared off by playing with too many other top tier players since they could be stuck in a complementary role or get limited scoring opportunities. In football, the opposite is true. Top quality QB prospects want to know how good your offensive lineman, receivers, tight ends and running backs are. Basically, a five star recruit wants to know that he'll be protected by five star linemen. In basketball, a great player needs other good but not great players around him so he can show his skills while also showing he can play a team game. In football, a great player needs as many great players around them as possible for them to look great. In essence, football recruiting is even more inter-dependent than other sports. making that recruiting even more difficult is the mess known as the BCS System. BCS conferences have an obvious advantage (for more on this, turn on any sports radio station from September to late December) but the Big East is becoming an awkward second class BCS member. The overall quality of play is well below the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10 and ACC. The Big East was receiving some sympathy after the BC, Virginia Tech and Miami defections but that well is starting to run dry. Football is incredibly expensive and the Big East just hasn't been able to get a TV contract that makes it competitive with the big conferences. The fact that it's made up of smaller private schools and large public schools with limited football history doesn't help things. For SU, a school that has a rich history and a respectable fan base considering it's size - the time to get on board with a big conference in now. I don't want to call Big East football a sinking ship but the risk of a collapse is real. It's very doubtful that adding Villanova or Memphis would help either the conference's financial or recruiting pictures anytime soon. For SU, the best hope is the Big 10 or ... the ACC. (It's still hard for me to write that.) Both conferences are inferior basketball conferences but still power players. SU would instantly become the second best basketball program in the Big 10 behind Michigan State and would be a top tier ACC program. I love the Big East. I was born in Boston, graduated from SU and basically grew up on Big East football and basketball. But (you knew there would be a but) change is needed and history may need to stay in the past.