The Big East is a basketball conference. With powers such as Syracuse, Georgetown, Pitt, and many others, they will always be one of the best in the sport. However, things are about to change. With colleges changing conference affiliation quicker than ever before, the Big East is in a perfect position to strike.
Unlike many conferences, there are eight members fully committed to this conference. Pitt, Rutgers, West Virginia, USF, Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, and Syracuse, meaning the conference is in no danger of getting eaten alive if they move quickly. Pittsburg and West Virginia have repeatly declined invites from other conferences including the Big 12 to stay in the Big East not only because of the basketball prestige but its football.
Big East football is better then most people give it credit for. Since 2006 the league has a 17-6 bowl record which is better than the all powerful SEC and every other conference. Dating back to the creation of the BCS in 1998 makes the picture even clearer. From 1998 to 2009, they were 36-23 with a winning percentage of over 61 percent. The SEC was 56-39 during that stretch with a winning percentage almost five points lower than the Big East.
John Marinattio has the opportunity to turn this conference from the laughingstock of college football to a powerhouse if he moves quickly. Yes, they have lost team after team and coach after coach to bigger conferences and colleges with higher prestige but times are changing.
With the leagues television deal ending next September, they are in a great position to succeed. The Pac 12 just received a 12 year 2.7 billion deal from ESPN earning each college almost 19 million per season. Television giants CBS, NBC, and ESPN have shown that they are willing to pay top dollar for the best in college football. Marinatto has said "It's the most important television negotiation in our history,". And he is poised to make it the most profitable.
The conference currently resides in ten of the nations top 35 television markets including national brands such as New York, Philadelphia and Chicago along with Washington, D.C., Tampa, Dallas/Fort Worth Pittsburgh, Hartford, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. With the addition of TCU, the Big East markets will contain more than 30 percent of all television households in America. ESPN, NBC, and CBS know the best way to earn money is through viewership, the Big East provides it.
Nows the time to strike.Already a basketball powerhouse the Big East can become a football equal if they move quickly. Texas A&M will be leaving a weakened Big 12, following the path set by Nebraska and Colorado last offseason. Word on the street is that Oklahoma is prepared to move West, heading to the Pac 12, taking Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State with them, ending the Big 12 as we know it.
Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa State will be on the outside looking in, trying to find a BCS conference to continue there athletic and academic endeavors.
Missouri might find a place in the SEC or Big 10 but do they really want to play against such high competition? The Tigers have stated that they want to continue there rivalry with Kansas and could potentially be convinced to move Eastward with the new television deal in fold.
If Marinatto could add that six (Baylor, Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa State) to the nine members he already has he would truly elevate the value of his conference. Throw in either East Carolina or UCF and you have the making of a super conference.
Even if Missouri decided not to come, adding the 19th, 31st, 71st, and 94th largest markets along with eight solid football teams could bring the Big East the financial stability its been lacking.
Heres how it would look
*Possibly East Carolina if Missouri decides to come or the Big East decides to add Houston
The Big East is on the rise. With a setup featuring 12 of the largest 35 television markets, Marinattio would be able to change the direction of the conference and assure its future as a college conference power. The Future is Now For The Big East Conference.