Death Becomes The Big East

With all the crazy movement and conference re-alignment going on in college athletics over the past few years, it appears that a major casualty of all of this will be the Big East Conference.

Over the past few months, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame have bolted for the ACC, Rutgers to the Big 10 (or 14 but who’s counting), West Virginia to the Big 12 and on and on. Then this past week, the “Catholic Seven” of the league (those schools that are primarily basketball only) – Georgetown, St. John’s, Providence, DePaul, Marquette, Villanova, and Seton Hall – announced their departure from the conference, which has pretty much put the last nail in the coffin of the Big East.

Say what you want about the Big “East” adding teams to the league like Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, University of Houston, and that it will sustain itself for the near future until things settle down. But let’s be real…the heart and soul of the Big East Conference is gone and what is left is a vapid conglomeration of schools from all over the country. Rumor has it they will break the Big East into two divisions – the West and the East division…so you will have the Big East West and Big East East divisions. If they could only add Southwestern Oklahoma State University and Northeastern University to the conference, all corners of the compass would be accounted for. Schools from San Diego, CA, Texas, and Boise, ID in the Big East Conference makes as much sense as Chris Brown making a movie about relationships.

The history of the Big East was driven by basketball yet it’s demise was driven by football. For those, like me, who grew up watching Big East basketball in the years of Chris Mullen, Pearl Washington, Sherman Douglas, Derrick Coleman, and others, this is a sad sad time. The irony is that about 10 former Big East teams will now be part of the ACC when you also count Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech. Where is the sense in that?

So to commemorate this sad occasion, the fine folks over at Bleacher Report have put together a top 20 best moments from Big East history and I’m proud to say Syracuse had quite a number of spots in the top 20, including the following:

#2 – Six Overtime win vs UConn – 2009 Big East Tournament
#5 – SU’s Crazy Unexpected Run to 2006 Big East Tournament As #9 Seed

#8 – Georgetown vs SU in Manley Field House, where the Hoyas snapped SU’s 57 game winning streak and thus started one of the great rivalries in College Hoops.

#9 – The 1981 Big East Tournament in the Carrier Dome, where Leo Rautins led the Orangemen to their first Big East crown.

#16 – Jim Boeheim’s 900th win (last week)

So yes, this is a sad time for long time Big East fans. The long rivalry of Georgetown – Syracuse or Pitt – West Virginia will be replaced by Florida State and Clemson. At least the “Duke Sucks” chant won’t need to change.

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William Barry

I couldn’t agree with you more Steve. I’ve been saying since all this conference shifting started that the Big East was founded as a Basketball conference. When w’e started acting like a football conference we forgot our identity thus dooming what we all know was the BEST basketball conference in America. I can’t believe that the B.E. as we know it is dead. RIP Dave Gavitt and the conference you built.