For well over a year now the realignment of college football programs has had a major impact on college basketball. Specifically in the Big East, which for the last several years has been regarded as one of the top college basketball conferences in the country.
The trigger pulling of teams like West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse to move to different conferences to expand revenue on the football frontier of their institutions has caused a colossal shake down on the Big East in college basketball.
This is the last season that Syracuse and Pittsburgh, two of the premiere names in Big East basketball, will be playing in their once proud conference. Up until this season the Big East had 16 teams competing in its basketball conference, often times bringing between 6-8 teams to the NCAA tournament.
West Virginia’s immediate move to the Big 12 brought the Big East’s total this season to 15, not a huge difference, but it is certainly foreshadowing of what might become of the remainder of the Big East in years to come.
The “Catholic 7,” (Georgetown, Marquette, DePaul, St. Johns, Providence, Seton Hall, and Villanova) are a group of seven current Big East schools who are planning on splitting away and forming a new conference while still keeping the Big East name, which will cost a lot of money.
These seven schools are also looking to add current Big East School Notre Dame to the mix as well and are reportedly going to have the additions of Butler and Xavier as well. This would set up a pretty decent field of teams that could have some legitimate contenders.
Georgetown, Villanova, and Marquette are clearly the top dogs of the “Catholic 7,” Notre Dame would bring a lot of attention to the conference and the additions of Butler and Xavier would only help.
This is all a result of these institutions making huge decisions for the sake of their football programs at the expense of their basketball programs. We all understand why Syracuse and Pittsburgh left the Big East, as far as football is concerned the Big East is a flat-out joke.
But simply moving to the ACC won’t solve Syracuse and Pittsburgh’s struggles in football. Both of these schools are known for their basketball programs and they are leaving the Big East, a conference that they have helped grow, for new waters.
This will certainly make the ACC even more of a battlefield for basketball, but unfortunately we might be watching the Big East, one of the country’s most exciting conferences, crumble right before our very eyes.
Overall, everything should be okay. Teams like Connecticut, Louisville, and Cincinnati should find a home and whereever they land they should still all have great basketball programs. If the new “Catholic 7” version of the Big East takes off and it includes the likes of Butler, Xavier, and Notre Dame then it should also provide plenty of great competition for years to come.
But college basketball will be losing one of its most staple events. Every year the Big East Tournament has been held at Madison Square Garden, for a week the top teams in the conference have thrilled the nation and provided plenty of memorable moments.
Unfortunately we will never have what we once had, this year will still be a good year, but it will be the last year with teams like Syracuse and Pittsburgh and it could also be the last time that any form of the Big East plays its tournament in the Garden.
At this point everything is up in the air; the future is unknown for a lot of the current Big East Schools. We will all have to sit and watch it unfold together.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.