No matter what happened on the field Saturday, the action paled in comparison to the off-the-field news. The Big East is scrambling to survive as conference with Syracuse and Pitt as good as gone to the ACC.
Commissioner John Marinatto, silent all day, issued a statement late Saturday night:
“Although I was obviously very disappointed to learn the news about the ACC’s being in discussions about membership with the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University, I continue to believe the Big East Conference is well positioned for the future and that the events of the past 24 hours will unify our membership. We have been working steadily to solidify and strengthen the Big East Conference and position us for our upcoming TV negotiations and I am confident that we will again emerge from this situation and remain strong.”
A lot of fans beg to differ. Losing Syracuse -- a founding member of the league -- and Pitt is a punch in the gut. And to the ACC -- a league that has raided the Big East once before has got to be even more galling. It was a month ago that Marinatto made headlines for wanting to reach out to his fellow commissioners about realignment. Now, his conference is in full-on survival mode.
There are so many unanswered questions tonight. The most logical place for the Big East to look would be the Big 12 -- if that league falls apart. Oklahoma is set to have a board of regents meeting on Monday, so we could know more then about whether the Sooners decide to stay or move on to the Pac-12. That could end up being a factor in what the Big East does.
What of the current league schools? It is every president and athletic director for himself. Loyalty is a nice concept, but there is no such thing in this landscape. Pitt and Syracuse were looking out for their best interests. Now every other league member has to do the same. Several schools issued statements in which they said they were aware of the shifts. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told the Courier-Journal he was keeping all his conference options open. You can bet every remaining Big East team is doing the same.