With the pending breakup of the Big East (h/t ESPN), the decision for BYU to forgo membership now seems almost inspired.
Many were asking, "What can the leadership of BYU be thinking?" Now we see within just a few months what inspirational leadership BYU really has.
One of the options the Catholic 7 have for departure is to just leave the Big East. If they do that, they will be paying out $20 million a piece. A second option would be to disband the conference and pay nothing. The objective mind asks, "Let's see, Option A: 140 million buckeroos or Option B: zero buckeroos."
Which path do you think cash strapped Catholic schools under assault from federal regulations will pick?
Assuming the Catholic 7 choose option B, the Big East will shortly become the new WAC. It also means San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, and Houston will be looking to play football some other place than under the Big East tent.
But where will these four teams go for the next two to three years? And what about the remnants of the football powers of the Big East?
For Boise State, Houston, San Diego State and SMU admission to the Mountain West Conference would seem a natural fit. It would make them a 14 team league, or 12 if they chose to dump the weakest two members, Wyoming and either New Mexico or UNLV.
With the success of San Diego State, Boise State, Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State this year the Mountain West would be a very competitive conference and certainly a BCS buster candidate every year.
A new East Coast Athletic Association could comprise of Navy, East Carolina, UCF, USF, Temple, Connecticut, Cincinnati, and East Carolina. Memphis and Tulane would have a choice to stay at home in Conference USA or join the Big East making 10 schools. Louisville of course heading to the ACC and Rutgers to the Big 10.
However, what may be more likely is an even bigger shake up than anyone can predict. Perhaps some teams will chose to go independent like BYU. In 1991, there were 18 independent teams, and with new communication and broadcast facilities available, teams may see a greater reward in independence than stuck with teams that have no draw or fan base.
Look at little Wyoming, who wants to see them on ESPN? UNLV can't even fill its 36,000 seat stadium with its own fans. Regularly visiting teams have more fans in the seats than UNLV. New Mexico is another loser financially for any team to visit both for TV ratings and fan interest.
The breakup of the Big East and the move by the Catholic 7 will shake up more than just the Big East, it will reveal the weaknesses of other conferences, alignments, TV contracts and broadcast rights. The decision the Catholic 7 make will impact football, basketball, and collegiate sports more than any other decision any school or conference has made in the last 50 years.
Congratulations go to the Catholic 7 for their courage, a decision that is not based on dollars. They will bring back to collegiate athletics the purpose of participation.
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