The Big East officially added Conference USA member Memphis and secured its spot as the weakest of the power BCS conferences.
Adding Memphis isn't the sole reason why the Big East will always be in last place among the heavy hitters -- the school will actually bolster a diminished basketball presence -- but it surely doesn't help quell concerns that the Big East's storied tradition is dead.
The Big East at one point was known as the premier basketball conference in the country, but those days appear to be long gone. Instead the Rhode Island-based conference has an above-average basketball side of things, while still owning the worst football conference of all the BCS automatic qualifiers.
It has lost some of the heart and soul of the conference -- Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia -- and replaced it with schools that neither add much financially to the conference nor make much sense geographically.
These points have certainly been made before, but it takes another expansion move by the Big East to realize how badly commissioner John Marinatto has bungled the entire process. He was caught off-guard by the Pittsburgh and Syracuse departures and also badly mismanaged the Big East's expansion efforts to the point that TCU and West Virginia jumped at the first lifeboat that came their way.
Instead of those strong basketball programs, excluding TCU which never played a Big East game, the Big East has added programs such as Central Florida, Houston, and Southern Methodist. Not only are those programs not good at basketball, but they don't do much to shore up the weak football division either.
The conference had to do something with the conference realignment carousel going full circle, but it's easy to signal out the Big East as one of the biggest losers in the college athletics crisis. Its existence is secure for a few more years, which is somewhat of an accomplishment, but its identity is completely destroyed.
The local rivalries in the Northeast will be overshadowed by uninteresting games between Houston and South Florida. Its reputation will continue to circle the drain before the basketball-only schools break off to form their own conference or it just becomes mostly irrelevant.
That would have been ludicrous to say only a few years ago, but this Big East is just a bastardized version of the old Conference USA with a little good tradition sprinkled in. In 2015 when all of the teams officially join the Big East, the conference will sport a whopping seven schools that were once in Conference USA.
That move was meant to ensure that the conference would keep its automatic qualifier status and be able to reel in big money when its television contract runs out in 2014, but likely won't earn it near the reported $1 billion offer from ESPN that it turned down in 2011. CBS Sports reported on Tuesday that television industry experts don't expect it to get that high of an offer again and that ESPN might completely avoid the conference altogether after it brazenly rebuffed its offer.
The conference will get someone to buy in -- college sports are a financial bonanza -- but if it gets relegated off ESPN coverage, it will suffer even more irrelevancy. The conference that seemingly has made every mistake possible in the past few years might end up on the channel formerly known as Versus or CBS Sports' relatively small college sports channel.
To those that grew up with the Big East's glory days in the 1980s this is very sad news. The conference that was built up by Georgetown's Patrick Ewing and St. Johns' Chris Mullins has been virtually destroyed. There are some remnants of what used to be, but the addition of Memphis and others pretty much secured the death of the once-great conference.