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Friday, March 1, 2013

The Big East is Dead. Long Live the Big East.

It looks as though we finally have a clear path to how the Big East saga is going to end, or rather continue. The ubiquitous "sources" are reporting that the seceding Catholic 7 will sever ties following this season, join with Xavier and Butler, and retain the Big East name. The remaining football schools - an unsteady amalgam, as Louisville and Rutgers will not yet have departed - will need to find a new name.

The only part of this that's actually news is the timing and the final decision on the name. While it would be my preference that the Big East name be retired and both conferences emerge as something new, this is the next best option. As much as I, as a USF alum, have an affinity for the Big East name, it only goes back eight years. Of the schools on our side of the fence, only UConn has a birthright to the Big East, while Georgetown, Villanova, Providence, St. John's, and Seton Hall make the case clear for those who will retain the name. The split is still occurring along the predetermined lines, lines that were drawn far before many would admit it.

As for the football conference formerly known as the Big East? I have it on good authority that regardless of the name, the conference will maintain its autobid in the final year of the BCS as we know it, which is really all it had going for it anyway. All other second class citizen fears have already been realized, so this doesn't change much except for some nickel-and-diming with the TV contracts and the fact that the conference won't look as many expected it to in 2013-2014. The folks at Voodoo Five even point out that the financial windfall from the secessionists will likely end up greater for USF and the other schools left behind. And the original article seems to point to the conference containing the football schools maintaining a bid to the NCAA tournament, so we're covered there.

While the Catholic schools will take the name, the tournament at the Garden, and the history with them, neither conference is the Big East. While many changes have taken place throughout the conference's lifespan, this time it actually loses a sport, as the Big East that begins in 2013-2014 will be without football for the first time since 1991. The Big East as we know it is dead.
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