Thursday, May 15, 2003

Collegiate Musical Chairs-The recent move to add Miami, Syracuse and a Big East team to be named later (Boston College would be a better TV fit while Virginia Tech would be better geographically) has a lot of long-term permutations. Coupled with a rumored move that a number of the basketball-only members of the Big East are looking to start a Catholic League of sorts, the result could be the demise of Conference USA. The Big East would likely look to pick off some of the better CUSA schools, such as Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis and East Carolina. They have a pipe dream of getting Penn State into the Big East, but it's more likely that Pittsburgh would hook up with the Big 10. Marshall and Central Florida might be a good fit for the revamped Big East, as might CUSA schools UAB and Southern Miss. When the Big 8 grabbed the best of the old Southwest Conference, morphing into the Big 12, it killed it off, leaving the survivors to move to the WAC or CUSA. Ironically, it might be a couple of those schools, Houston and TCU, who might get the short end of the stick again. Mass defections to the Catholic League and the Big East would leave a unviable rump (Tulane, Houston, TCU, UNCC and maybe St. Louis) to either gather in some independents or split up. St. Louis might fit in the Catholic League, UNCC might gravitate towards the Atlantic 10 and the three western schools would be candidates for the WAC. What does this mean for Football?-The ACC becomes a powerhouse rather than a weak-sister to the top four of the BCS conferences. A title game will mean one more big payday in December. The Big East will likely lose its automatic spot in the BCS, for with Syracuse and Miami gone, only Virginia Tech would have a perennial Top 25 program, and if they're the third club rather than BC, then the Big East has become a three-quarters-major like the Mountain West. Given that deterioration, Pittsburgh might look at the Big Ten as a good alternative. That would give the Big Ten, or whatever we'll call it by then, a 12-team format and yet another title game. Notre Dame would benefit from the demise of the Big East, for it would give three at-large BCS spots. If the ACC and Big Ten get championship games, when would all four big-conference championship games be televised? With three, you could go with a 1PM-5PM-9PM triple-header, but with four, you'd have to move one to a Friday night or have two of the title games go mano-a-mano. What about Basketball?- I've seen some comments that a new Catholic League wouldn't have an automatic bid in year one. However, the projected conference is deep enough that it would earn three or four at-larges, making an automatic bid a moot point. The revamped Big East will be down a peg but still a major conference. The ACC will be watered down a bit, but Miami has had some good teams and Syracuse is the defending national champs and a perennial power. The Atlantic 10 seems to be the biggest loser, as the Catholic League and the Big East will compete for airtime with them. This will be interesting to see play out.

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