Wednesday, June 25, 2003

CONNECTICUT LITIGATION SETTLEMENT Let's take a break from law talk and and focus on a business of real importance. College sports. ACC expansion. Here's a basic principle that should be no surprise to Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese: if you cobble together a conference with 14 universities, 6 of which don't even play Division I football program, expect to fail. When your conference is held together by duct tape and rubber bands, don't be surprised when a well-run, top tier conference like the ACC takes an interest in some of your football schools.

Let this be a message for Conference USA too, which will be poached by the Big East when the ACC adds Miami and Va Tech, without any irony (unless C-USA acts to protect itself). The major money-making sports in college are football and men's basketball, it makes little sense to organize conferences with different membership rosters in these important sports. The Big East has known plenty of tension between its Georgetowns and Villanovas and its BCs and Virginia Techs and Temples (oops, they kicked Temple out). The Big East basketball-only schools should be in a conference that doesn't have to worry about football, doesn't have to worry about positioning for a BCS berth. The football schools should move to conferences where they can participate in both football and basketball. Sure, it would take action by the NCAA to make this happen, but, here's my suggested alignment anyway (schools new to a conference are in red):

Big East
Georgetown
Notre Dame
Providence
Seton Hall
St. Johns
Villanova
Charlotte
Depaul
Marquette
St. Louis


Then, Conference USA and the ACC will be able to each play football and basketball among all of their members, and C-USA gets the BCS berth previously awarded to the Big East. The Big East gets out of football and becomes a top tier basketball conference.

ACC
Clemson
Duke
Florida State
Georgia Tech
Maryland
NC State
North Carolina
Virginia
Wake Forest
Miami
Virginia Tech
Pittsburgh


C-USA
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Houston
Louisville
Memphis
Southern Miss
TCU
Tulane
Boston College
West Virginia
Rutgers
Syracuse


I understand that this would leave out Army, Alabama-Birmingham and South Florida, but if you're upgrading C-USA, these would have to go find the MAC or be independent. Heck, if we put together enough 12 team conferences with championship games, then those games could serve as a first round of a playoff. But, then, I'm dreaming.

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