The Big East has died about five times now.
Once when Pitt and Syracuse left, again when Notre Dame bounced and, of course, when Louisville got the ACC invite over UConn.
Each move — even the Louisville defection — caused a gross overreaction in Connecticut.
We all knew UConn football was in trouble, but despite all the abandonment, Huskies basketball — a program with rich tradition and a young, charismatic head coach — still had the pieces to remain relevant, if not prosperous.
That was the optimist’s view, at least.
Today, the optimist’s view looks something like this: _______________________.
If you can fill in the blank above, be my guest. I’ve got nothing.
The seven Big East catholic schools will split from the league, the New York Post reported Thursday, leaving UConn with two holdovers — Cincinnati and South Florida — with newcomers Central Florida, SMU, Houston, Memphis, Temple and Tulane.
Now, it’s unclear whether or not the seven schools will simply branch off or vote to dissolve the league altogether. Dissolution of the league requires a 2/3 majority vote, and the seven schools hold the power to make that happen. So UConn could be forced to become an independent. Or, if invited, it could choose to follow those seven Big East catholic schools and join a legitimate basketball conference (Butler, VCU, Xavier, Dayton, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s are all candidates for this new league, according to SNY’s Adam Zagoria).
Unless the ACC comes calling again (which isn’t totally out of the question), UConn can’t have the best of both worlds. At this moment, there is no ideal situation for both basketball and football. There is, however, a scenario in which both major sports can suffer: Staying put.
If UConn stands pat, it will be a big fish in a tiny basketball pond. Kevin Ollie is a great recruiter; he’s not a miracle-worker. In order to attract top talent in the coming years, UConn must join a semi-competitive hoops league soon. Perhaps the University can stick as a football-only member in the “Big East.” It’s certainly not perfect, but nowadays in Storrs, it never is.
UConn is a basketball school, first and foremost. The administration must make a move (if it can) to preserve the tradition Jim Calhoun started 26 years ago.