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The Big East Has Not Been Saved

When Dan Beebe improbably kept the Big 12 together earlier this week, the popular opinion was that the Big East had been rescued. With the Pac-10 unable to expand to 16, and with the SEC unable to get Texas A&M, and with everyone unable to get Texas, the super-conferences had died. Big East commissioner John Marinatto was so happy with this turn of events that he apparently sent Dan Beebe a set of 10 white and 10 red roses to thank him for saving his conference.

Um... how exactly has the Big East been saved? If anything, it's been given a stay of execution. What's more, no one has any idea how long this stay will last. It's practically an article of faith that this revised Big 12 will eventually fall apart again. Whether it takes a year, or two years, or 10 years, it's widely assumed that someone or everyone in that league will get so mad at Texas that they can't take it anymore, and teams with leverage (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, maybe Missouri) will start looking to get away. Once other conferences get a whiff of teams wanting to jump ship, the super-conferences are right back on the table and the Big East is right back on the ropes. Of course, it might not even take that long. If the Big Ten still wants to expand, and Notre Dame still isn't interested, the only options Jim Delany has left right now are Big East teams.

Nothing has changed for the Big East. The football schools and basketball schools still don't get along. The commissioner is still weak, reactive, and likely not looking out for the football schools' best interest. The TV money is still paltry compared to every other BCS conference. And most importantly: Every single football program in the Big East would gladly accept an invitation from any other BCS conference. Whether that's Rutgers or Syracuse going to the Big Ten, or Louisville going to the SEC, or anyone going to the ACC, we would all leave in a minute. Those conferences would all be a huge upgrade over the Big East in terms of money, prestige, and stability.

Which brings me to John Marinatto, who still has no cards to play in the expansion poker game and never will. It's way too late for proactive moves. Just like everyone in the Big East would leave for any other BCS conference, no one in any other BCS conference would leave to go to the Big East. On top of that, adding new football teams now from Conference USA or wherever is illogical. It doesn't bring much value to the football side. It might even harm the conference, because if you buy into this rumor, they wouldn't even be picking the best teams. Plus the basketball teams would probably veto it anyway. He's stuck with the setup he has until the conference is inevitably pried apart by whoever decides to cherry-pick it.

If Marinatto really wants to do something to help the football schools out (and even that is a questionable assumption), he needs to do whatever he can to make sure that when the football side of the Big East dies, the eight members don't get left out of whatever super-conferences form. Once he secures safe passage for all of us, then he can go back to doing what I think he really wants to do - running a basketball league.