So, who is really to blame with all of this conference realignment mess?
Big East commissioner John Marinatto would have the country believe that the fault lies with the likes of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who announced weeks ago that they were leaving to become members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and West Virginia, which recently dropped the bombshell with its announcement of becoming the 10th member of the Big 12 Conference.
But, a wise man once told me that when you point a finger at someone else, three point back at you. And, that is the case in all of this conference shifting.
Marinatto, as well as his predecessor, Mike Tranghese, has no one to blame for this mess than the leadership (the lack thereof) of the Big East.
The warning signs came in 2003 when the ACC completed its first successful raid upon the Big East by convincing Miami (Fla.), Boston College and Virginia Tech into leaving. The response was to raid Conference USA, taking Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida.
But, instead of continuing to make the football side of its conference stronger, the Big East's leadership elected to strengthen its basketball membership by adding DePaul, Marquette, and Seton Hall. The results should have been expected. The basketball side of the Big East flourished, earning a record 11 invitations to the NCAA tournament, while the football side continued to flounder in the eyes of those who make up the Bowl Championship Series.
Wins by WVU in BCS bowls against Georgia and Oklahoma slowed that perception, but with the BCS coming up for renegation after the 2013 season, it became more and more likely that the powers that control the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 were getting tired of sharing the pie with the redheaded stepchild named the Big East. Forced with the inevitable, those in control at Pitt, Syracuse and WVU did what they had to do to keep their football programs relevant. Anyone who believes that these decisions were done easily is just plan naive. Why would anybody leave a conference where its worst recent finish is tying for the conference crown?
Now, Marinatto and the Big East want to "punish" the Mountaineers as well as Pitt and Syracuse by holding them to the agreed-upon 27-month exit notice. A move that makes the Big East look more like the kid that takes his basketball and goes home when the other team won't play by his rules.
What's even funnier is the fact that the Big East's most recent leader (and I use this word lightly) has had to have heard the rumblings even before he took over for Tranghese. Yet, nothing, except hallow words echoed by a leader of a sinking ship.
And, the Titanic (Big East) is still sinking.
Connecticut has made it plain that it wishes to become the next addition to the ACC while Louisville would like to join WVU in the Big 12. Even Notre Dame has given implications that it would surrender its football independence for a spot in the lifeboat.
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org