This weekend has been more about a few football games on TV. Truly the marquee games for Big East schools like Pitt vs. Iowa and WVU vs. Maryland took a back seat to news that Pitt and Syracuse had extended interest to the ACC in joining their conference. It was a little more serious than that. The schools actually sent letters of application to the ACC which is the second to last step to actual admittance. The final step has been completed as the conference’s presidents officially voted them in.
For now, it seems like the Big East is about to get set out on the corner like one of the many West Virginian burnt couches. Speaking of the Mountaineers, their role in Cincinnati’s future is very important. With Texas A&M joining the SEC, that leaves the conference likely looking at a 14th school to balance out the divisions. There’s a good possibility WVU will be that school and if they leave, the Big East is stuck with the Conference-USA invitees from 2005, UConn, Rutgers, an assortment of tiny basketball schools, and maybe TCU if they decide to hang around. Oh, and they have plenty of cash to pay two exit fees if they feel that the pastures aren’t as green anymore.
Well thank god John Marinatto is on top of things. Just check out this telling tweet about the Big East’s inspirational leader:
On one hand you could say Syracuse and Pitt went behind the conference’s back. But this is the kind of reactive mindset that has been plaguing the Big East for years. Was Marinatto REALLY one of the last people to hear about this? Did he not see the writing on the wall when Big East presidents like Oliver Luck at West Virginia were continuously complaining about his pro-basketball mentality in this football-led college football world? This is the guy that is expected to instill confidence in his members but by all indications he’s doing the exact opposite and has no idea what the hell he is doing.
For now, President Williams says the university is firmly committed to the Big East conference. Unfortunately there also appears to be quite a lot of chatter between Williams and that buffoon Marinatto:
“We’re having a lot of conversations right now, which I can’t divulge,” Williams said. “This is not something that we’ve been sitting on the sidelines. I talk with (Big East commissioner) John Marinatto on a regular basis. This is a very fluid situation.
Does that make you feel confident in Cincinnati’s future? It shouldn’t.
The university simply needs to take their athletics elsewhere, as in down the Ohio River to the Big XII conference. The good news is that UC is closely linked with Louisville a hundred or so miles away. The two have been together since the Metro Conference days and have traveled together through C-USA and their current affiliation in the Big East. Rumors are rumors but Louisville has been talked about as an invitee to the Big XII. This addition would present a new market for the Big XII and adding Cincinnati would just expand their footprint even further. Remember, realignment isn’t about rivalries or traditions. It’s about new media opportunities and money.
Quite frankly, the University of Cincinnati needs to join a conference not run by John Marinatto and instead by Dan Beebe. Sure he allows the Texas juggernaut basically dictate the direction of the Big XII but at least he realizes that football is king. Plus if Texas bolts for the ACC or PAC-12, that will be a moot point anyways. Being in an AQ conference has taken UC athletics to new heights but the Big East is so backwards thinking because of its leadership that football will never be a priority. The Big XII is all football all the time with institutions deep in the football-crazed cultures of Texas and Oklahoma. A new nine-team conference led by Dan Beebe comprised of Cincinnati, Louisville, TCU (assuming they move to the Big XII), Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State is the next step for Bearcats athletics.
That’s the dream anyways. Unfortunately the reality is that Cincinnati will likely be stuck in the Big East unless President Williams finally realizes that a new Big XII is the best option. He probably won’t, at least according to the quote above. I’m not sure who will replace Syracuse, Pitt, and West Virginia if they are in fact SEC-bound but it doesn’t matter a lick. It could be Central Florida, East Carolina, or Southeast Missouri State for all I care. The fact that UC will still be associated with a conference that is essentially starting from scratch like in 2005, will just be a diluted version of itself, and whose leadership still hasn’t the slightest idea that football runs college sports means that Cincinnati will continue to be behind the 8-ball compared to schools in other conferences. If there was a better opportunity than now to jump ship I don’t know what is.
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