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Big East basketball will never be the same


Mike Miller


Mike Miller

The Big East’s downfall began once Pitt and Syracuse bolted. West Virginia leaving didn’t help either.

But Tuesday cemented the once-proud college basketball conference into a hoops afterthought.

The conference will add Houston, Central Florida and SMU to its basketball rotation starting in 2013, which is basically replacing a Porsche, a Ferrari and a Range Rover with three Hyundais. (San Diego State and Boise State are joining as football-only schools.) If UConn wasn’t happy about getting left behind back in August, I can only imagine how pleased the Huskies are by this development.

As Mike DeCourcy notes, none of the three new schools have anything to offer in hoops. Houston used to be good, but merely shows promise. UCF was an Atlantic Sun program a decade ago. And SMU? Why do the Mustangs even have hoops?

That makes half the league either in rebuilding mode (DePaul, Providence, Seton Hall, Houston) or building mode (Rutgers, South Florida) or irrelevance (SMU, UCF). Sure, the league’ll stick around – how can it not when UConn, Georgetown, Villanova, Louisville, and Marquette, among others? – but it’ll never be the same glorious conference it once was.

This graf by Matt Norlander sums it all up nicely:

Twenty years from now, I think we’ll look back at today, the days the news broke, as one of the critical notches in the timeline of the downfall of the Big East. It may not have been responsible for losing its place in the pecking order in the first place (re: the ACC taking Syracuse and Pitt), but it’s woefully out-thought itself by expanding across the country. It’s undeniably spreading itself too thin for the sake of trying to keep up in the football race, and even that’s clear to see it can’t do. You can make the argument Boise State’s already peaked as a program -- and it’s sure as hell not a major TV market.

It’s enough to make me wish the remaining good basketball programs had been siphoned off by other conferences such as the ACC, Big 12 and SEC and leave the dregs to fend for themselves.

Then the Big East could’ve gone out on top, rather than turning itself into a sad, pathetic shell of its former self.

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