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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 6:31 am 
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It has been suggested elsewhere from time to time that the Big East made a mistake 25 years ago when they failed to admit Penn State & build a stong football nucleus to prepare itself for future viability. I would like to use this thread to explore that idea.

Let me say first that I strongly disagree with this proposition. In fact, i believe that it is the admission of football oriented programs that has led to the current problems of the Big East.

The Big East had a clear mission when it was formed in 1979. That was to bring together the East's premier college basketball programs under one umbrella. Most of these schools had a long tradition of independence. Five years earlier they had become loosely organized in 4 regional associations, managed by the ECAC. These 4 regions had been granted automatic NCAA tournament bids, but by 1979 were required to play all other members of their region. The Big East's founding members were not interested in this scheduling restriction & saw a brighter future in an association with others who placed a similar emphasis in achieving excellence on the basketball court. Two college betting scandals in the '50s & '60s plus the formation of the Ivy League as a non-scholarship conference had destroyed many of the traditional Eastern sports powers. New powers began to emerge in the '60s & '70s while some old ones were revitalized. By & large the powers in this region had never been the large state flagship universities as they had been in the rest of the country.

Within a few years, the 2 major football powers in the conference were approached by other football schools about a different kind of association. BC & Syracuse were committed to the Big East, but saw a threat to their football schedules if others in the East affiliated, resulting in their exclusion from the schedules of traditional rivals. The 2 of them approached their BE brethren about making some accomodations to preclude such a development. This led to membership for Pitt in 1982 & Miami in 1991. Others followed later.

I was lukewarm about the admission of Pitt at the time & strongly opposed to the inclusion of Miami. It is my opinion that the move to include football schools compromised the conference's mission & created an untenable tension that finally brloke apart 2 years ago. The admission of every new member changed the balance of power & increasingly created competing agendas that ultimately couldn't live together.

The alternative scenario would have been for BC & Syracuse to have realized that the Big East didn't meet their needs. In such a scenario, these 2 would have joined with Penn State & Pitt - rather than playing them off against each other - & would have begun the work to organize an Eastern all-sports conference.

My question is: What would the Big East look like today & what would an Easter All-sports look like today if BC & Syracuse had opted for the road not taken. Clearly the core members would have looked like this:

Eastern All-Sports

Boston College
Syracuse
Penn State
Pittsburgh
West Virginia

Big East

Providence
Connecticut
St. John's
Seton hall
Villanova
Georgetown

Options for the all-sports conference would have included Army, Rutgers, Temple, & Navy from the Northeast, but they could also have approached the numerous independents that were available elsewhere at the time, such as Miami & Florida State.

Options for the Big East are too numerous to mention but would have included any of the non-football Div. I basketball programs that were competing at the time, including the remaining members of the Eastern Eight who would have been abandoned by the football powers, i.e. UMass, George Washington, & Duquesne.

What do you think?


Last edited by friarfan on Wed Jul 20, 2005 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:24 pm 
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You've worked so hard and broken it down too elegantly to ignore. Nicely done!

Based on my posts in the pasts I obviously think a lot of people forget how things evolved, particularly UConn football. I love how so many people run through this idea of what would've happened and assumed UConn would be there in lock-step with the other schools you've mentioned. I do not. The BE would've had enough pedigree that they could've moved on, probably assuming UMass and other current A-10 notables.

I'm not knowledgable enough to assume Temple and Rutgers would've been slam dunks for the EAC, but if we are to assume there was enough savvy for this league to come together in the first place I'm sure they would've taken them in. Travel costs, access to Philly and NYC, someone to give you W's... ;)

As for FSU and Miami, less doubtful, IMO. At that time there were enough other southeastern indies to fill their ranks, such as So. Carolina, ECU and more. Perhaps a stronger version of the Metro forms, who knows. If you or anyone is serious enough, you need a table that shows each conference's memberhsip at the time and then we can see who had relationships and so on.

I think it is safe to say that had your version of the EAC come together, then what we'd end up with is an EAC of considerable merit, probably w/8-10 members. Arguably one other major conference than we have today with the ACC and possibly the SEC both at smaller rosters. Meanwhile the BE basketball conference would also be an 8-10 member roster with likely no 1-A football. As to whether the absence of 1-A ball would hurt that league in the BCS era, that we can't truly say.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 11:28 am 
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Friarfan, I agree with your comments on the direction that BC and Syracuse should have taken for football. Less face it the whole thing was based on greed just like the recent ACC expansion. I slightly disagree on purpose of the creation of the Big East. The Big East schools were really threatened on the creation of the old Eastern 8 and used good marketing and logic to create made for TV big city schools to overtake the plans of the Eastern 8. Have to admit Syracuse was much to blame for the failure of the Eastern 8 and did not join when invited. Villanova a charter member of the Eastern 8 was convined to join the Big East and this started the whole mess of power play with eastern schools. Penn State arguably the most markatable school in the east at that time would not accept being in conference that was second rated to the Big East.

Syracuse the other major Eastern school with maketablitly and inflence made a major mistake and is paying for it to the day by not going with Penn State. Of all Eastern schools, Syracuse lost the most. Being replaced by Va Tech in the ACC expansion war says it all.

Now if history could just be repeated.

The Eastern Sports Conference would have included

Penn State, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College, Army, Navy, and Maryland.

Ironically Maryland would have been easily convined to join the East in those days as the school had great football rivalries with Penn State and WVU.

If the Eastern Sports Conference would have formed, Penn State would not have joined the Big 10. The SEC would not have jumped into expansion to 12. The Big 12 most likely would be two seperate conferences as it should be.

The Big East would have replaced Syracuse and BC with a school from Boston (possibly Boston U or UMass). Since Pitt was not admitted at the creation of the Big East, the Pittsburgh market would have been left to the all sports conference.

Big East today if Eastern Sports Conference formed:

Saint John, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, UConn, UMass or BU, St Bony or U of Buffalo.

Basically the above would have been the orginial Eastern 8 idea without the football schools.

I think both eastern conferences would have been successful and most likely would have prevented the creation of the super conferences that bring so many issues to college sports today. Again greed continues to drive college sports and so we have the current situation with Big East as the largest division 1 all sports conference.

The Big East has survived some of the most difficult hurdles that the old SWC, Metro, old WAC and others could not handle.

Each time the Big East has reinvented its self the conference has just got stonger. To the frustrations of many who would like it to fail, its liken to a flu bug that just keep resisting a vacine and each new strain is stonger than ever. ACC better look out in the future as the current expansion has created an monster of a conference that may well over shadow the entire eastern seaboard in a few years.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 2:57 pm 
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Lash, you made a really interesting point when you said:

"If the Eastern Sports Conference would have formed, Penn State would not have joined the Big 10. The SEC would not have jumped into expansion to 12. The Big 12 most likely would be two separate conferences as it should be."

If an Eastern all-sports conference had formed as per your vision, I wonder what might have happened with the other independents on the east coast, primarily the Metro Conference schools. If Florida State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, and Tulane formed an all-ports conference in response, would the ACC have replaced Maryland with one of these members? Would said member have wanted to switch leagues? Would this conference have brought in Miami and East Carolina to increase the numbers? Would Miami have wanted to be a part of such a conference at the time? Would the SEC have sought expansion to twelve? Would then the Big 8 and SWC continue to be separate entities as you suggested?

What a landscape that would have been.


Last edited by bchokie on Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:32 pm 
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Quote:

Each time the Big East has reinvented its self the conference has just got stonger. To the frustrations of many who would like it to fail, its liken to a flu bug that just keep resisting a vacine and each new strain is stonger than ever. ACC better look out in the future as the current expansion has created an monster of a conference that may well over shadow the entire eastern seaboard in a few years.


I doubt that ::)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:05 pm 
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Sportskc, dougt all you wish, however I am marketing fan and 16 markets are better than 12 which is better than 8. The New Big East has already secured two New Years Day Bowls (only real important day for bowls), and the NCAA is changing the rule to allow for conference members to meet as early as the second round in basketball tournament (can you say 8 or 9 future Big East bids - remember it will be the best 32 at large). As for the ACC, this conference better get two BCS bids very soon or the conference will slip back to the old ACC with a couple football guns and the rest basketball schools. Keeping up with the SEC will not be easy with the SEC having about 10 crazy football schools and the ACC about 6. Virginia Tech winning the conference last year just makes a statement.

BCHokie, I was living in Miami at the time the Metro was trying to expand for football. Many reports stated that Florida State would not join unless Miami was invited as well. Miami was not interesting at the time and shortly afterwards began the conference jump with Penn State to the Big 10, SEC expansion, Florida State to ACC, ---

The following Metro would have been an impressive conference:

Miami, Florida State, South Carolina, Louisivlle, Cincinnati, Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulane,
Ga Tech, Va Tech

As for the ACC in this scenerio, the tobbaco road schools and UVa wich had a long string of football losing seasons would probably have become a basketball conference and invited some prep schools such as Davidson.




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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:15 pm 
Keep in mind conferences such as the SEC would have expanded to 12 anyway due to seeking divisional play and the championship game. Also, if certain schools had consolidated or joined other or newly formed conferences earlier, there is no assurance certain schools would not have left and hooked up elsewhere as they have.

South Carolina would have taken a SEC invite regardless of whom they joined up with earlier. VA Tech wanted the ACC. Even Penn State could have later changed their minds and still have gone with the Big10. Contrary to what many have believed, the ACC was not interested in Miami when it first sought conference membership. Their outlaw image then created reservations. The Miami-SEC dialogue did not meet eye-to-eye either. Miami then, did not have a well-developed women's sports program, and along with Miami's expectations, proved not to be a match.

Had there been an "all sports" eastern conference, chances are it would have held together and there would not have been an ACC raid. However, that conference would needed to have Penn State, Maryland, West Virginia, BC, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and perhaps Rutgers as the core. Then it could have stretched out and included available others such as VPI. Franky, an association with Penn State, could have been a key to have helped Temple stay vital.

The Big10 and ACC went into the geographic east and took prime schools to fill their perceived needs. The opportunity for the "east" to have consolidated ALL of its top schools in the region for all-sports has long past.

Lash, are you stressing a point by making a suspicious claim? My reaction follows SportsKC remark. The 16 member new BE, 8 football BE, is yet to deliver a tract record.



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:27 pm 
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The BE kept the Gator Bowl bc they are tied in with Notre Dame, plus the Big 12 wanted both the Gator and Sun so they came up with a compromise. It wasn't bc the BE is the mighty conference, it is their affilation with ND that is getting bowls not the play on the field. ACC is by far stronger than the BE, even in hoops. Plus the BE comes no where close in terms of depth in all-around sports programs following way behind the Big Ten, Pac 10, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. Maybe having 16 teams is good for hoops but it is just setting itself up for future failure.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:28 pm 
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Dogsnthings, I am not stressing any point on Big East membership performance and to your point neither has the ACC or Big 10 done anything spectator in football the last couple years based on previous expansion.

I tend to believe your strong desire to see Big 10 expansion with Notre Dame would somehow help Penn State? Well Penn State would still be in the east and the Big 10 would still be a midwestern based conference and Penn State will never be a top dog again until its in a conference made for it top dog status. By this desire, any remote stableness of the Big East causes havoic with your wish to have the Big 10 expand. We all know the Big 10 would never expand without Notre Dame just to save face. My bet is on the Big 10 remaining with 11 members for a very long time.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 5:35 pm 
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Sportskc, you can slant the bowl deal anyway you want it does not change the fact the Big East can market and requit high school players on having two New Years Day bowls for first and second place teams. Not bad at all for a battered conference that has only 8 football members. As for failure of 16 members that remains to be seen. From all observations the fans are pleased and the scedules in basketball are made for interest of the region. Comparing the new Big East to the old Wac is not remotely the same. An accurate gage on Big East stability will come from the Big East fans and not everyone outside who has other opinions on how the conference should be managed including yourself.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:37 pm 
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Sportskc, you can slant the bowl deal anyway you want it does not change the fact the Big East can market and requit high school players on having two New Years Day bowls for first and second place teams. Not bad at all for a battered conference that has only 8 football members. As for failure of 16 members that remains to be seen. From all observations the fans are pleased and the scedules in basketball are made for interest of the region. Comparing the new Big East to the old Wac is not remotely the same. An accurate gage on Big East stability will come from the Big East fans and not everyone outside who has other opinions on how the conference should be managed including yourself.


So you going to tell a recruit, yeah we have the Gator Bowl - the same bowl the Big 12 sends it #4 team to. Or yeah we can go to the Gator Bowl, twice over 4 years if ND doesn't take our spot in 2 of those. I hope the BE does well but it won't be until they break off and make the all-sports league, until then ::)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 5:11 am 
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The BE is in reality a 9 team football league,where one member ND has their own tv package,plays only 3 games in league per year within the league.However,this one member brings them better bowls,helps them with BCS and gets them tv exposure.Yes the BE is different,they always have two BCS payouts one for 8 members and the other for ND.Their total BCS/non BCS payoutsper league quite close to any other BCS league.The BE is a real BCS league and will successfully compete.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:32 pm 
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Sportskc, less clarify your slanted comments. I would be telling a requit that you have the opportunity to play football in conference that qualifies for the BCS. Likewise has enough clout to make arrangements with Big 12 and TV star Notre Dame for very good bowl deals. If you play hard a win you will qualify for a nice bowl or play for the BCS National Championship. No other conference outside of the 6 BCS conferences can come close to that. Enough said. By!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 3:09 am 
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The BE is in reality a 9 team football league.


No, not in reality. . . . In your mind. ;D


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 21, 2005 3:42 am 
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Quote:

The Eastern Sports Conference would have included

Penn State, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College, Army, Navy, and Maryland.

Ironically Maryland would have been easily convined to join the East in those days as the school had great football rivalries with Penn State and WVU.

The Big East would have replaced Syracuse and BC with a school from Boston (possibly Boston U or UMass). Since Pitt was not admitted at the creation of the Big East, the Pittsburgh market would have been left to the all sports conference.

Big East today if Eastern Sports Conference formed:

Saint John, Seton Hall, Villanova, Georgetown, Providence, UConn, UMass or BU, St Bony or U of Buffalo.


Lash, I think you nailed it with the Eastern All-Sports Conference. Maryland certainly would have been torn, & it would have been interesting to see if they could have been wooed. Historcally, football had been very important to them, but by the mid-80s they were also big time bb in the ACC mold. Maybe their frustration at never being able to beat out UNC in ACC hoops would have been a catalyst to move them to such a conference as much as their rivalry with Penn State in fb. I think that Rutgers would have been part of the mix as the State University of New Jersey & because of their academics, their facilities, their proximity to NYC, & because of their bb, which had been top notch in the decade leading up to the mid-'80s when these decisionswould have been under consideration. I also think that Temple would have gotten some consideration. I'm not sure about Army & Navy, but you're probably right.

One of the things that gets lost in discussions of the old Big East is how important facilities were to their blue print. ESPN came along after the conference was founded, so as important as they were to the early success of the conference, they were not an important consideration in the original blue print. However, downtown arenas were enormously important to the conference & they sought schools that had the capability of selling out such arenas (12 - 20K). Oddly enough, it was the 2 football schools that were the exceptions to this - BC & Syracuse - although BC had access to the Boston Garden for a really big game. Syracuse had the largest on-campus arena in the region in the old Manley Field House & within a few years, the Carrier Dome was more important than any downtown arena

It was the Providence Civic Center, the Hartford Civic Center, MadisonSquare Garden, The Meadowlands Arena, the Spectrum, & The Capital Center that were the crown jewels. I think that any attempts to replace BC & SU would have followed this same blue print. Unfortunately, I don't see any schools at the time that had access to major civic arenas & had shown the capability of filling them up. Holy Cross was an original invitee & had access to the Worcester Centrum, but by the mid-'80s they were moving to non-scolarship sports. The BE already had all of the major arenas locked up otherwise, so I don't know if they might have considered a 2nd NY school like Fordham or a 2nd Philly school like Temple if the latter was not invited to the all-sports conference. St. Bonaventure is too far from Buffalo & I don't think that they would have seen Duquesne as a viable competitor to Pitt. UMass never showed much inclination to play in Springfield the way UConn did in Hartford even though the distance is about the same. (I also think that UConn would have opposed their membership because they wouldn't have wanted the competition for their own at-the-time precarious program.) I don't see BU because they had always been a hockey-first school.

So, I tend to think that they either would have stayed at 6 - a perfectly acceptable number in those days - or that their path may eventually have found its way to DePaul & Marquette just as it has now. These 2 schools best fit the profile of the other BE bb schools, had successful programs that were selling out downtown arenas, & were in positions of prominence in major cities because the state university is located some distance away. The biggest obstacle would have been the mindset of Big "East". It might not have gone "Midwest" in those days. I think that another possibility at the time may have been Richmond, which had an up & coming program in those days, had access to the Richmond Coliseum, and had developed ties with the Northeast through its membership in the ECAC. Another school which fit this mold was Old Dominion, a strong bb school at the time with access to a downtown arena in a large metro area.


Last edited by friarfan on Thu Jul 21, 2005 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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