Mar 3, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; A Big East banner is displayed during the game between the Georgetown Hoyas and Marquette Golden Eagles at the Bradley Center. Marquette defeated Georgetown 83-69. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Being Vindictive Will Not Help The Big East

If you haven’t heard yet, the Big East released the pairings for this year’s Big East/SEC Challenge yesterday. There are a lot of great match ups, highlighted by Kentucky traveling to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on November 29. Like always with the Big East however, communication and questionable leadership have stirred up more problems with two programs within the conference.

Jan 16, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward C.J. Fair (center) fights for possession of the ball with Pittsburgh Panthers guard Cameron Wright (3) and forward J.J. Moore (right) during the game at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Coincidentally enough, the two programs involved are Syracuse and Pittsburgh, who are off to greener pastures hopefully sooner rather than later. Pittsburgh was promised a home game in this year’s challenge but never received one, while Syracuse was scheduled to play at Arkansas and already has scheduling conflicts for the weekend in question. Both athletic directors came out swinging after the schedule was released.

“We discovered the day before the announcement,” Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson said. “On June 1, to try to find a good home game, that’s very difficult. (The Big East) put us in a very difficult situation. I’m disappointed for our players because we were clearly under the impression from numerous conversations that we were in it and we were going to play a home game,” he said. “(Coach Jamie Dixon) has been holding a spot on the schedule, and somebody could have told us three months ago.”

Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross shared his distaste for the lack of communication and cooperation in an e-mail sent out to Big East athletic directors, coaches, and administrators.

“OJ (Tom Odjakjian) this is premature as we are over committed and can’t play at this point. I wish we could have an agreement as you have put us all in what could be an embarrassing situation. We are not confirmed. I find it amazing that there is no discussion to make a better plan. We have been collegial with the Big East yet it appears that there is no willingness to cooperate.”

Mar 3, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange players hoist the Big East regular season championship trophy after the game against the Louisville Cardinals at the Carrier Dome. Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

My question here is, who is this actually benefitting? You put Syracuse in the challenge because they are the winningest program in the conference and defending conference champion, and that’s great. But if you were putting teams in to the challenge based off of success, why not have the most successful program conference wise in the past 5-10 years in as well with the Pittsburgh Panthers? And why tell them they are going to have a home game in this thing if they were never going to be included at all?

Because the Big East is vindictive and bitter, plain and simple. And this vindictive attitude is hurting the conference more than helping it. Will it make the current school presidents happy that the Big East is attempting to stick it to Syracuse and Pittsburgh? Maybe some of them.

But how does this look to a team who is thinking of joining the conference? You can join what will still be a very good basketball conference along with a second tier football conference. You have a meager TV deal in place in comparison to all other major conferences, and if you ever cross us we will provide you with false information and make things as difficult as we possibly can for you.

TCU must be thanking their lucky stars that they got to back out of this disaster before they even started. This situation makes the Big East look petty, bitter, and absolutely ridiculous in a time where they need to show strong leadership more than ever following the ousting of John Marinatto. But instead they would rather play games with two teams that could care less about them anymore.

I can only speak to the Syracuse side of things and not the Pittsburgh perspective, but Syracuse University has not filed any kind of lawsuit and has seemingly cooperated fully with the Big East’s demands. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind Daryl Gross would love to go to the ACC as soon as possible and start receiving that increase in revenue that comes with the new conference.

As soon as the announcement was made that Syracuse was leaving, the Big East immediately came out and declared that both Syracuse and Pitt would be forced to stay 27 months unless they wanted to pay a ridiculously high buyout fee, and Syracuse respected the decision. I’m not saying they aren’t negotiating some kind of earlier release, but there has been no scrutiny publicly from Gross to show disrespect.

If anything, Gross has shown the Big East more respect than anyone. He has said as much numerous times, including last December at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.

“We’ve been respectful of the entire process. With John making his announcement today I think they’re putting together what the new Big East is going to look like. As they go forward to put together multimedia deals and all that stuff, they’re going to need us to move out of the way. We’re waiting for that. We want our departure to be more of a mutual respect for each other.”

Well that makes one of us. With this latest snafu, it appears the Big East would rather be difficult rather than mature, and schools on the outside will without a doubt take note.

I for one originally wanted to see one more athletic year in the Big East following 2012-2013, but the more I read about the leadership at the top of the conference, the more I agree with the decision to move for more than monetary reasons, and the sooner I want to do it. Syracuse and Pittsburgh did not kill the Big East as we know it.

The Big East killed the Big East, and there are no two ways about it.

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