Guest Author - Mona McKenzie
As an avid fan and follower of the Big East Conference, I was disheartened and very upset to learn that Pitt and Syracuse are jumping ship to join the ACC. It didnít help that Pitt football blew a 17 point lead to Iowa earlier that day. In case I havenít mentioned it before, I am a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. The only sports conference Pitt has been aligned with since before I moved into Tower A was the Big East Conference. I love the Big East, plain and simple. When Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech jumped ship to become members of the ACC back in 2004 and 2005, I was again highly upset because the move seemed nothing more than a money grab, and, frankly, I hoped the move would backfire against the ďtraitorsĒ in a big way. These schools didnít care about the relationships and rivalries that were cultivated as a part of the Big East. So far, the move for those schools hasnít provided the year-in, year-out, on-the-field dominance that was projected and Iím not mad at that. About a week prior to the big announcement, there were rumors that Pitt was looking to join the Big 12, which seemed absolutely ridiculous. I should have know then that something controversial was in the making.
With Pitt and Syracuse scheduled to leave in 2014, and the possibility of UConn and Rutgers leaving as well, there is a very real chance that the Big East might go the way of the dinosaur. However, the strength of the Conference isnít in football...basketball drives its notoriety. The Big East is the top basketball conference in the country, bar none. Even with the departures of two powerhouse programs, basketball is what will save the Conference. TCU is in a tough position because it agreed to join the Big East earlier this year. Now, TCU must figure out if it still wants to align with the Big East or go elsewhere. Rumor has it that there are a few schools who are looking to join the Big East, so, all is not lost. Itís going to be rough ride for all who love the Big East.
All the expansion moves and unrest in the Big 12 cost Commissioner Dan Beebe his job. Teams in his Conference are especially unhappy that Texas signed a mega-deal with ESPN on his watch, leaving the other 11 schools to financially fend for themselves. The last straw seemed to be Texas A&M leaving for the Big 12 in 2012, along with the possible departure of Oklahoma to the Pac-12, causing member schools to lose confidence that Beebe can keep the Conference from folding. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced there will not be any further expansion of his Conference. Iíd bet that he meant no further expansion of the Conference...at this time. That seems more realistic. Iím glad that the Pac-12 is trying to slow down the mega mergers on their end, though they were a major contributor to unrest we know know because of recent expansion moves. However, this seems to be the calm before the storm, again.