Big East Needs to Put on Its Big-Boy Pants

 
on October 12 2012 3:13 PM

With all the recent upheaval, change and confusion wreaking havoc on its core, uncertainty and saving-face have reigned in the Big East’s decision-making process the last couple years.

At some point, though, the powers that be, especially new commish Mike Aresco, need to settle in and say, enough; enough with the wishy-washy commitments, enough with others telling us what we can and cannot do, enough with member schools dictating movements that strictly benefit their own motives and are not best for the conference.

OK, so the Naval Academy being offered and accepting a bid to join was part of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants salvation plan, and any delays or hiccups with its arrival on the scene probably should be accepted.

But the almost indignant, “don’t bother us until we’re good and ready” response by the Midshipmen in the past couple days to the Big East’s request to push up their 2015 entry … well, that’s a big much.

Navy may have a worldwide presence in sea operations, but we’re talking college athletics here, and, frankly, it has no business pulling its new “boss” around by the nose and putting him in his proverbial place. The Middies are taking a major step up in class just in trying to compete on a regular basis with what they’ll face in the Big East, and that’s being kind.

If anything, they should be making concessions. Not the other way around.

At this point, it’s time for Aresco and Co. to not only gain a measure of self respect, but to show it, too. No more quick-fix resolutions, no more kow-towing to whatever strong-arm tactics your underlings are trying.

Big East, have some pride. You’re better than all this. You really are.

For starters, you have the best group of basketball schools in the country – bar none. Sorry, ACC and Dickie V, truth hurts sometimes.

Football? Well, the embarrassment that the depleted circuit was destined to become with its latest rash of departures has failed to materialize. Indeed, as we stand right now, three Big East teams – Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati – are unbeaten and ranked in the national polls. Boise State joining forces next season only strengthens, and extends, the conference’s presence and Central Florida’s arrival gives it a potentially dynamic 1-2 punch in Florida with current member South Florida.

The jury is still out on Temple, which joined this season. But the Owls, under former Florida assistant Steve Addazio, seem like they could really get something going if fans in Philly would only take notice. Hoops wise, they certainly bolster the Big East.

Thing is, the Big East doesn’t need Navy. It really doesn’t need any individual school it currently claims under its umbrella. The conference is bigger than all of ’em, and really needs to start acting like it.

Come up with a set plan and begin making better deals, from a position of strength, not desperation, and targeting schools that would make better sense – um, hello, Delaware and Virginia Commonwealth; not Air Force or Army (or Navy, for that matter) – in an academic and athletic sense. How the Big East went to member Villanova, a smaller Catholic university, and asked if it wanted to join the rest of its basketball brethren on the football field while delaying discussions with former member Temple, a 38,000-student school, and Delaware, a 20,000-student school that rules an entire state, currently plays in the same football league as ’Nova and has the means to move up, is astounding.

Same thing with VCU, Richmond’s version of Temple, essentially – with a basketball team that captured the nation’s attention with a run into the 2011 Final Four. No football? No problem. Start it – just like South Florida did 15 years ago, and got rolling pretty quick into the big time because of its size and location. VCU has 31,000 students, and Virginia is hardly hurting for quality football players. Nor is the Mid-Atlantic region in which it resides.

Big East, it’s time to go with some more progressive thinking here. The ever-evolving landscape of college athletics demands it.

More importantly, it also requires some self respect for those involved … if they hope to succeed.

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