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So Long to the Big East; You Will Be Missed

For decades, the highlight of early March has been the Big East Tournament. Every year at Madison Square Garden, the giants of college basketball got together and played some of the game’s most memorable tournaments. The six overtime game between Syracuse and UConn a few years back. Or watching UConn win five games in five days, then parlaying that into a national championship.  How about the great players to play in the Big East? Derrick Coleman, Chris Mullin, Pat Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, etc. is basketball royalty. And now because of football, it is all over. And that is too bad. The “Catholic 7” will announce, probably today, that they are leaving the conference and taking the sport of basketball with them. Georgetown, Villanova, St John’s, Seton Hall, DePaul, Providence and Marquette, all of whom we’ve seen in the Final Four (although DePaul was in a different conference at the time) have had enough.

Football and the chase for the BCS has caused all this conference shifting. Not everybody in college football has equal access to the championship. So it has created a system where the schools on the outside are constantly searching for a crack in the door to get in. The conferences who hold the keys then take advantage to position themselves to acquire as many TV viewers as possible. If there is a small time school that happens to play in a big time TV market, all of a sudden the Big Ten is interested in having you aboard. This has caused the silliness we’ve been seeing the last few seasons. It has not been an improvement to the college football world as a whole either.

Oh sure, there are some schools pretty happy about their new conference. Texas A&M can’t be complaining too much about life in the SEC. One year in and they bagged a huge win at Alabama and their quarterback became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. But there was a price even for their fans. They no longer play their biggest rival, the University of Texas.

But the biggest injustice of all this conference shifting, is what it has done to college basketball. College basketball was just fine. The teams in college basketball ALL had an equal opportunity to get into the NCAA Tournament. Once you’re in, how far you go is up to you. A Butler, for example, can win the whole thing. Basketball had all their schools in the right conferences. They were all close together, and all around the same size and strength. And now because of football, it is all screwed up.

We have the ATLANTIC Coast Conference who now has a team from Louisville, Kentucky and  South Bend, Indiana. There are probably million of residents of those states that have never seen the Atlantic Ocean or any other ocean.  But the most egregious injustice of all, is the destroying of the Big East Conference.

This has been a long time coming. When the Big East watered themselves down for the sake of football by taking South Florida, you knew their days were numbered. When they took on UCF, East Carolina, SMU, San Diego State (really?) and Boise State, it was more than the Georgetowns and Villanovas can stand. Can anyone blame them?

How are Georgetown fans supposed to get excited about conference games against UCF or East Carolina? Those are teams they are supposed to play to get ready for conference play. So goodbye Big East. Early March will never be the same without you.

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