The time has come for the Big East to do the right thing and admit that no matter what they do, they should no longer be considered one of the top conferences in college football.
It's something that fans, experts, and people involved in college football has known for years, but despite losing its biggest names to surrounding conferences, the Big East still tries keeping its BCS standing alive with paste and leftover parts.
The Big East just lost Rutgers, one of their better football schools, to the Big Ten. Sometime within the next month, they will lose another one of its big players to the ACC as Maryland's replacement. These losses are coming on the heels of losing Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia, and TCU (to an extent) to the ACC and Big 12, respectively.
The losses also come at a time when the Big East is earnestly trying to secure a new national television deal. But with what the Big East is going to be providing football wise in the future, it can't look that appealing for potential suitors.
While the Big East tries hard to keep their BCS hopes afloat and their conference intact, here are my suggestions on how the Big East could rectify their situation:
1. Admit It's Over. I don't know if the Big East ever really warranted an automatic BCS bid, but they sure don't now. The loss of 80% of their top football programs has decimated the conference beyond repair. There are two mid-major conferences, who if put head to head against the Big East, would assuredly triumph. Those two conferences are the Mountain West and the MAC. That's right, the MAC, who at the moment have six 7+ win teams and boast victories over two of the Big East's top teams, Rutgers and Cincinnati.
With that said, they need to keep the football conference alive, just on a smaller scale. There are certain football playing schools who are important to keep around for basketball purposes. So a retooled Big East football conference is needed, a conference with a regained idendity. And the first place to start is:
2. Figure Out a Way to Lose the Western Schools. The conference is still called the Big East. The onlything San Diego is east of is the Pacific Ocean. If I recall correctly, Texas was part of the Old West, not the Old East. Boise? I'm in bed when they're still watching Prime Time television.
Boise State might be easing themselves out of their deal with the Big East, as they remain in talks with the Mountain West to possible stay in the conference. Sand Diego State confirmed they would be leaving for the Big East, but I would assume would rethink their position if they were the only team west of the central time zone to be making the jump.
I'm going to assume for the story's sake that UConn will be the team to jump to the ACC. While Louisville has the more attractive football/basketball combo, UConn has the better television market and the more sensical geographic location for the ACC. If you subtract the incoming Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, and SMU, that would leave the Big East with 4 current football playing schools (Louisville, Cincinnati, Temple, and South Florida) and 3 incoming schools (Central Florida, Memphis, and Navy eventually).
It wouldn't be hard to add one more mid-major school east of the Mississippi, maybe the likes of Marshall or East Carolina. That would leave the conference with 8 football playing schools, making for a nice 'play each team once a year' conference. If Conference USA can strike a deal with CBS, I'm sure the Big East could find a suitable deal with these 8 teams in the mix. The last football move would be to accept the loss of your BCS standing, and move on to the biggest part of the plan:
3. Focus on Being a Basketball Conference. That's what you've always been, and as much as you try to deny it, that's what you always will be. The loss of Syracuse, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and UConn will hurt, but there is still a strong foundation for Big East basketball. The major players from the Big East's hayday are still around in Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's and Providence. Louisville and Cincinnati (Big 12 willing) are still around as well and are solid basketball programs.
Add to those teams current schools Marquette, Seton Hall, South Florida and DePaul, plus incoming Temple, Memphis, UCF, and let's say Marshall, and you have a very good 14 school basketball conference. Is it upper echelon anymore? No. But it's also not a conference to sneeze at. Basketball is where the Big East will prevail, with football just being a means to appease some of the basketball playing schools.
I realize there is a lot of legality and financial motives that may make my plan difficult to accomplish. I'm sure some will disagree with the direction I think the Big East should take. But the Big East is drowning, and its pathetic attempts to pull in western schools to try and save the standing of its football conference isn't getting it any closer to land. The conference is called the Big East, not the Big East and Friends.
It's time to say goodbye to your automatic BCS bid and earn it the way other schools of your caliber have to. It needs to be done for the sake of your remaining schools, their students, and their fans. If not, we may not be far away from seeing the Big East go the way of the Southwest Conference. And I, for one, never want to see that happening.