How can the Big East save itself?

It’s 2005 all over again, and the Big East is emerging from a decade of being one of the nation’s most power football conferences. That’s just a joke — it was never powerful. I mean, if UConn is your BCS representative, you’ve been doing something horribly wrong. You wouldn’t know it by asking the powers that be in Providence.

When you are deluding yourself, you’ll tend to do anything to keep this magical fantasy alive. So, the remaining Big East teams, when they aren’t busy trying to find a conference to jump to, are working to keep their fantasy alive. To do so, they’re going back to their old model because it apparently worked so well the first time. Let’s just pick the prettiest team from the Island of Misfit Toys that are the non-BCS football schools and add them to the conference. Tradition, rivalries, ability to play other sports. Doesn’t matter. Warm bodies will keep us alive. Genius.

Guess what? It won’t work.

I feel for the teams that are left in the Big East conference. I really do. I mean, they are like that coworker who locks themselves in their office, keeps their head down, and does their work day in and day out. Never rocking the boat, just waiting to be rewarded with that big promotion. Sadly, the world doesn’t always work like that. In life, the aggressive are generally the most the successful. Fortune favors the bold.

In order to stay relevant, the remaining Big East teams need to be innovative. Otherwise, they will fall into the dustbin of college sports history. Like the University of Chicago. Do you remember they had the first player to win the Heisman Trophy? Me neither — I found it on Google.

So, how do you save the Big East? From a conference standpoint, you need to look at what it does best. That’s basketball. The worst thing the remaining Big East teams can do is add more teams to their bread and butter that have no geographic relation, tradition or student athletes who know how to dribble a basketball. There is already a South Florida. They don’t need more South Floridas. In fact, the Big East would best serve itself by dropping a team or two (I’m looking at you DePaul). You are a basketball conference. Keep being an East Coast basketball conference and excel at that.

Next, let Pitt and Syracuse go. There is nothing to be gained by keeping them for two more seasons. This is like a failed relationship with a live-in girlfriend. She just dumped you, but instead of talking to your landlord to get out of the lease, you decide that you must keep the apartment and live together until the lease runs out. Guess what buddy? She’s doesn’t want to be with you, and as long as you’re living together, no other self-respecting woman will either. You need to pick up the pieces and move on. Petulance is not becoming.

Finally, how do you save Big East football? The answer is easy. You don’t. You kill it off. Let’s face it. Out of the original eight Big East football teams, only two remain, so it’s not like there is Big East football anyway. Remember, in the original Big East football conference, only Syracuse, BC and Pitt played all of their sports in the conference anyway. There doesn’t need to be a football conference.

Well, if there is no Big East football, what do the leftover teams do? Since geography doesn’t seem to matter anymore, it’s time to form a football consortium of the leftovers. The remaining six Big East teams (Rutgers, WVU, Louisville, Cincinnati, USF and UConn) should join with the top 10 teams not affiliated with a BCS conference who don’t choose to be independent. Now, it appears this would be Houston, Boise State, SMU, East Carolina, Central Florida, Air Force, Navy, Southern Mississippi, Nevada and Temple.

I know what you are saying. How does that monstrosity keep its BCS bid? How is this any different than what the Mountain West and Conference USA are doing? If this conference was a 50s pop group, they would be Boise State and the Mediocre.

Well, this is where innovation comes into play. Creating a two-division conference with a championship game is so 2002. This consortium needs to be different. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Premiership of American College Football.

The Premiership of American College Football

Division A – Rutgers, WVU, Louisville, Cincinnati, USF, UConn, Boise State and Houston

Division B – SMU, East Carolina, Central Florida, Air Force, Navy, Southern Mississippi, Nevada and Temple.

This football consortium would operate like the English Premier league. There will be two eight-team divisions, A and B. The A division would encompass the old Big East plus the top two teams in the BCS standings at the end of the season. The remaining teams would start in the lower B division. At the end of the season, the bottom two teams in the A division would be relegated to the B division, with the top two finishers moving up to the A league.

Take a look at the A division. It’s not that bad. It’s not good per se, but you could do worse. There isn’t a real cupcake team there. Plus, if a team becomes one, they’re gone. Rutgers and UConn struggle, say hello to Nevada and SMU.

Relegation will make the A division, while still admittedly average, void of truly bad teams. There won’t be any large creampuffs to beat up on. This will only help the BCS standings and could give it a credible claim to BCS bid. The conference strength will be in its depth, not its power.

This model helps the weaker teams as well. The B division won’t serve as whipping boys to superior teams and will give these developing programs room to grow to the point where they could truly compete with superior teams and compete for a BCS bid when their time has come. They have the opportunity to be great in the future, without dragging down the other teams in the present.

The remaining Big East schools need to face the facts. They don’t have the sustained tradition of Alabama, Michigan or Texas. It is time for them to stop pretending they do. You have to market something else. The selling point of this system is that this conference where the young blood of college football is located. It’s Darwinism at its finest, where the strong survive and grow while the weak are punished. There are now much worse consequences to having a 3-9 season than angry alumni. In an America angry at large corporate America, you can sell a conference of small businesses fighting out to play with the big boys.

You know what you can’t sell. The same old failed formula that didn’t help save the conference the first time. Look at this way: if Chrysler can reinvent itself, why can’t the Big East football programs?

America was built by innovation. If the remaining Big East teams want to still be players in the game of college football, listening to the advice coming out the Big East powers in Providence isn’t going to save them. They are a reactionary body, and acting reactionary will only lead to continued failure and futility. If you want to be big, you dream big.

Delusions don’t count as dreams.

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