A quick take on the latest round of realignment with the seven Catholic basketball schools in the Big East:
WHAT HAPPENED: Seven Catholic basketball schools—St. John’s, Georgetown, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova—announced they were splitting from the Big East to form a basketball-centric conference. “The basketball institutions have notified us that they plan to withdraw from the Big East Conference. The membership recognizes their contributions over the long distinguished history of the Big East. The 13 members of the Conference are confident and united regarding our collective future. We have a strong Conference with respected national universities, and are working together to forge the future. We have a variety of options, and are looking forward with great partnership, collegiality and optimism,” Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said in a release.
* Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville and Pittsburgh must be breathing another sigh of relief. Sure, it’s easy to get sentimental about the conference you just left, but what a mess it’s become. And now these four schools are insured a spot in college athletics relevance for the foreseeable future.
* Instead of having to toil in the Big East for another year, perhaps both Notre Dame and Louisville can join the ACC in the 2013-14 season with Syracuse in and Pitt.
* Who doesn’t feel bad for San Diego State and Boise State? The two west coast programs thought they had finally turned the corner and joined a conference with an automatic BCS bid, a nod to their recent mid-major success. That was surely the only reason why either team would fly to Connecticut to play a conference game. At least now, they can rack up frequent flier mileage. Perhaps a secondary winner is the Mountain West, because the two schools may rejoin.
* Cincinnati and UConn are in serious trouble. Both teams lobbied desperately to leave the Big East for the ACC, and were turned down in favor of Louisville. I’m less worried for Cincinnati. The Big 12 seems like a possible destination for them, and their basketball and football programs have been steadily on the rise over the last decade. UConn can’t say the same. Legendary coach Jim Calhoun is gone and the direction of the basketball team is, at the very least, uncertain, with Kevin Ollie on a one year contract. And football with coach Pasqualoni missed a bowl game for the second straight season.
* The move to bring Mike Aresco in was correct. The timing was not. Had the northeast basketball schools made this move before Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia defected, the Big East as we know it may still have continued to exist because he would’ve been able to negotiate a hefty television contract. Now, the value of the league is estimated to be about $40 million a year, which works out to about $3 million a school.
* The Atlantic 10 is next in realignment. The joke was made a few days ago that the Atlantic 10 adding the Big East teams would be like the Mountain West raiding the Pac 12. A little harsh, but true. The new Catholic basketball conference will surely pluck the top teams from the conference, which likely include Xavier, Butler and Dayton.