I knew this would eventually happen, though I thought it could've happened earlier. The non-football schools in the Big East are fed up with this mess and are looking to split from the Big East.
I thought when the Big East turned into a 16-team mammoth league that the non-football schools already in the league (St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall and Villanova) as well as the two non-football schools they acquired from Conference USA (DePaul and Marquette) an possibly Notre Dame would break off from the Big East and form their own league.
I was originally wrong. While I thought that the hoops schools would become testy after watching the football side of things (which formed nearly 15 years after the conference actually began) run the league and the futures of those programs. However, the Big East's cache grew due to the collection of dominant basketball prowess. While it became a bit more tedious to have to travel to South Florida or DePaul, that was the price to pay to have this big-time conference.
Well, the same reasoning the conference blew up is the same reasoning the conference is now ... well ... blowing up. West Virginia (Big East Final Four team) left for the Big 12. Louisville (Big East Final Four team) is leaving for the ACC. So is Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. Even also-ran Rutgers is bolting for the Big Ten. Even Cincinnati and UConn (Big East championship squad) threw themselves after the ACC and pouted when they were rejected.
That is devastating for the pigskin side of things. While losing Syracuse, Louisville, Pitt, Notre Dame and West Virginia are tough for any conference to take, the basketball league still has nice programs. A league with UConn, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Nova, Marquette and St. John's isn't that bad of a league ... with DePaul and Seton Hall decent programs. But football ruled the roost and the Big East sold its soul. Adding Houston, SMU, Central Florida and Tulane for all sports (as well as San Diego State, Boise State and East Carolina for football) told the non-football schools a lot.
WE DON'T CARE!
A once eastern-only conference will feature Texas schools. It was one thing to go to the midwest to face Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Marquette or DePaul ... but it is another to travel to Tulane.
Tulane. Why? Tulane is one of the worst programs in college basketball and may have broke the camel's back. I know you need their football membership, but you just pissed off all of the Big East Hoop-dom. You may have held off the mutiny a few days just by now giving East Carolina full membership.
Not only to those non-football schools want to leave, they want their brand back. They want the Big East name, history and that cache back. They want what they had before the league office sold their soul for football and watched as outsiders poached your league. They want this, but won't get it. Why? They need the votes to make it happen, and Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida and Temple (who now is a member) won't let it. They want to keep all this together until ... ya know ... Cincinnati and UConn finally get that offer from the ACC. Nice.
Breaking away would be difficult. They'd have to find some more members (Xavier? Butler?) to join them to create a new league. A new, non-historical league. They'd lose their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as well as some of the cash they would normally receive. Plus, start ups are kinda expensive.
The other option could be the Atlantic 10. The A-10 said they'd welcome those seven schools with open arms. They are currently a 16-team league that will lose Charlotte (Conference USA) and Temple (who completely leaves for, ironically, the Big East) to bring membership down to 14. Yeah, that means this would be a 21-team league but it should be exactly what the Big East members want.
GEOGRAPHY: St. Louis would be the furthest member west. That's not a big deal since that's closer than Tulane or the Texas schools and not much worse than traveling to DePaul or Marquette. The furthest south would be Richmond which isn't anything for those Big East schools to make. Everyone else sits right in those non-football Big East school's footprint and helps DePaul and Marquette bridge the gap.
LIKE MINDEDNESS: No football here. The basketball-only league would serve the interests of all the schools. Not to mention, those non-football Big East schools would love having fellow Catholic schools among their friends. Of the 14 members of the A-10, only UMass, Rhode Island and VCU are public universities.
The A-10 says they could do this pretty easily. They could either split into two divisions or just have a 20-game conference season where everyone plays once. I like either way, though I'm partial to no divisions in basketball. But, the A-10 could accomodate those Big East schools by essentially giving them their own division and a quasi-conference.
DIVISIONAL FORMAT (SCENARIO ONE)
Give the Big East their own division. Then they sorta get what they want and fashion their own league. They'd have to take on three more schools at least to even it up, and figuring out who that would be wouldn't be that big a deal. So how would that look?
I: Butler, DePaul, Georgtown, La Salle, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St John's, VCU, Villanova
II: Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, St Bonaventure, St Joseph's, St Louis, UMass, Xavier
I placed Butler and VCU with the Big East side of things since they are the newest members of the A-10. I put La Salle with them to give one of the Philly schools to join Villanova. While the Big East side looks much more formidable, that may be what would be best for everyone. It doesn't hurt the current A-10 since they all get a lift from just having those Big East schools linked with them. It doesn't hurt the Big East schools since they are used to having a high difficulty of schedule. Maybe Butler and VCU should switch back to the other division and schools like St Bonnie's and Fordham get moved over, but that shouldn't be that tough a discussion.
DIVISIONAL FORMAT (SCENARIO TWO)
Maybe an East/West format would be best?
EAST: Fordham, George Washington, Georgetown, La Salle, Providence, Rhode Island, Seton Hall, St John's, St Joseph's, UMass, Villanova
WEST: Butler, Dayton, DePaul, Duquesne, Marquette, Richmond, St Bonaventure, St Louis, VCU, Xavier.
This is decent. The talent level is broken up a bit (Butler, Xavier, VCU and Marquette on one side; G'town, Nova and St. John's on the other). The one thing that could bother western schools is that they'd be alienated from the New York area. I liked the first scenario because is sort of spread out the geography of things. Of course, you could go rogue and split everything evenly ... but why not just go to the orginal format.
Of course, I love no divisions if they don't want it. With this league, it would be great home-and-away since so many schools are located near each other.
NEW YORK CITY (St John's, Fordham): Play one at their place each year and one at home. That gives everyone a shot at playing in the New York area each season. I know Fordham isn't St John's, but you still can sent NYC kids back to play in front of the family each year.
PHILADELPHIA (Villanova, St Joseph's, LaSalle): These three join up where you'd play two in Philly one year and one the next. Not a bad gig.
OHIO (Dayton, Xavier): Each school would get a shot to play in the Cincinnati-Dayton area every year.
RHODE ISLAND (Rhode Island, Providence): One Lil' Rhody trip.
RICHMOND (Richmond, VCU): You get a Virginia trip each year.
DC AREA (Georgetown, George Washington): Everyone gets a trip to the highly fertile DMV area.
CHICAGOLAND (DePaul, Marquette): Not really the same market, per se, but you make the one trip in that area each year. Same goes too ...
MIDWEST (Butler, St Louis)
WESTERN NEW YORK/PENNSYLVANIA (St Bonaventure, Duquesne): Yeah.
Seton Hall and UMass don't really have a partner so you could just split the pair.