Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mike Tranghese Stars In: The Big Sleep

Part #2

The Big East is the last to BCS conference to form and as the raid five years ago showed us the most vulnerable to external forces. Originally built with a combination of northeastern basketball schools in 1979 the addition of football and in a move of profound stupidity rejected Penn State’s application for membership in 1982 in a move that effectively killed the formation powerful football conference. The football branch was not added until the mid-1990’s with the mysterious aversion to the pigskin by the founding click. “It’s not big on our campus so it must not be any good,” was the attitude taken by the smaller schools and schools were added for football only as second class citizens. Finally after securing an independent a lucrative contract with NBC for football Notre Dame joins the conference in 1995 for everything but football. The Big East is the astronomical equivalent of a binary star system plus one with the competing centers of basketball and football and the disruptive gravitation field of Notre Dame (mostly siding with the basketball).

If John Swofford is the corporate raider then, Mike Tranghese is the asleep at the switch corporate management oblivious to the economic forces that destroyed the Southwest Conference to create the building blocks for the Big 12 and a piece for the SEC. Even then the Big East was the runt of the BCS conferences and in competition with the ACC for bragging right of not being in 6th place. The U flourished in the Big East and brought the conference both the credibility and disrespect, Miami and the Seven Dwarfs winning championships seven of the eleven season they were members. While other conferences have a feeling of togetherness Big East football was merely a convenient home for Miami that was happy to take a super-sized slice of the pie—money provided the gravitational pull that bound the Cane to the conference.

Patching itself up after the ACC raid the Big East is once again feeling good about the future. Unfortunately the cancer of the lack of a center, a common purpose, and a common identity remains and while not enough to kill the group it will continue to be a source of weakness. The Big East can now boast three consecutive BSC wins but in a term borrowed from Matt Zemek of College Football News are Nuevo riche and lack a reputation to fall back upon in lean times. As pointed out by Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant there are few options that make sense as additions so the Big East will remain the Awkward Eight.

As an example of the lack of respect given the conference look at the BCS selection rules and specifically at the bottom Conference Automatic Qualification in Future. Basically it says that any conference that is NOT assigned a permanent BCS site is subject to review as far as, “…athematical standards of performance which be applied to determine the number of conferences whose champions will automatically qualify for a BCS game.” The Big East and any other conference that seeking membership at the BCS Country Club is subject to review. Mitch Vingle’s May 7th column detailed the non-event of the conference maintaining BCS status

Last week, however, without fanfare, BCS officials reaffirmed the participation of the six leagues currently involved through the end of the 2013 season. That includes the Big East.

The reinvention of the league since the 2003 purge is complete. And one can now call it a complete success.

The reason is simple: no one noticed the news. No one questioned the Big East's place at the adult table. The reaffirmation wasn't even a note in BCS meeting coverage.

Mr. Tranghese a word of caution: 2013 will be here before you know it.

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