Big East
The Big East Tournament gets underway on Tuesday. Big East

Big East conference members Pittsburgh and Syracuse are heading to the ACC and possibly taking with it the Big East's chance of long-term survival.

Syracuse, a founding member of the Big East, and Pittsburgh, who joined the league a few years after its creation, were two of the more attractive schools to other conferences and the ACC quickly scooped them up.

The two schools put future stability and more potential money ahead of tradition and brotherhood with its fellow Big East members.

And it makes perfect sense why they did it.

Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino astutely compared the situation to a scene in The Godfather. Before his death, Godfather Vito Corleone warns his son Michael that the first person to try to arrange a meeting with the other families is the traitor.

Pitino wrote, Robert Duval, as Tom Hagen the consigliore, thought it would be Clemenza who would be the one. Instead, it was good old Abe (Vigoda) as Salvatore Tessio. Michael Corleone's response to Tom was the answer to why Pittsburgh and Syracuse would make the move. His response: it was the smart move.

Pitino is dead on -- it is the smart move -- but just because it's smart doesn't mean it's any easier to swallow.

Basketball fans everywhere could see the end of one of, if not the, best college basketball conferences and that's nothing to be excited about.

As a fan of the Big East growing up, but an alumnus of an ACC school, I have extremely mixed feelings on it all.

On one hand it's good to see my alma mater's future secured for the long-term with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, but I'll always have fond memories of growing up and watching the Big East.

The ACC surely would contend it was always the best basketball conference in the land, but there was just something extra special about the Big East, especially when March came around and the conference took over Madison Square Garden.

Whether it was Syracuse-Georgetown, Georgetown-Connecticut, or Villanova-Pittsburgh -- the league boasted some great rivalries.

When you look back and think about all of the great players that have played in the Big East since its establishment in 1979, it almost brings a tear to your eye to think it might all be over.

Classic battles between Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas and Chris Mullins' St. John's Redmen might have never happened had the Big East not existed.

Even recently you can easily conjure up memories of incredible Big East basketball moments.

For this basketball fan, it will be hard to forget Kemba Walker's incredible run through this year's conference tournament on the way to a National Championship or Syracuse's Gerry McNamara carrying the Orange on his back to a Big East Tournament Championship in the 2005-06 season.

It's possible some of this strong basketball legacy can live on, especially if the Big 12 implodes and the Big East is able to add programs like Kansas and Kansas State, but it won't be the same.

Tradition is something that fans have been forced to let go as school presidents and athletic directors pursue more and more money for their schools.

It's not just in the Big East, though, it's happening all around the country. Dead is Texas' long-standing rivalry with Texas A&M due to A&M's defection to the SEC, and the Longhorns could also lose its annual rivalry with Oklahoma, the Red River Rivarly, if Oklahoma's Bob Stoops comments have any merit.

This lamentation isn't going to stop what's going on in college athletics, nor will the columns from fellow sports writers about the loss of tradition. Conference realignment is an unstoppable locomotive that shows no signs of stopping and a few measly columns that tug at heart strings aren't going to persuade school administrators to stop what they are doing.
But it's still worth reminiscing about the good times the Big East had and to express some sorrow about the bad times ahead.

If you understand business then you understand why this is all happening, but it's still tough to deal with for basketball traditionalists.

To follow Rick Pitino's path of movie quotes, another Godfather quote aptly applies to the situation. After the death of a corrupt police officer, Michael Corleone tells older brother Sonny, It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business.

That sentiment rings incredibly true with the latest conference realignment moves, but it sure does feel personal.