- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Big East commissioner John Marinatto has made it known he wants his future 12-team football league to play a conference championship game.
New York City would be ideal, he says. He appears to have a willing partner in the New York Yankees. Team president Randy Levine told Bloomberg News the team would be "very" interested in having the game at Yankee Stadium.
But is this ideal for the Big East?
There are a few questions I have right off the bat.
1. Why? Certainly revenue and prestige are two factors to consider. But shall we take a look at the ACC? That league has struggled mightily to get any national relevance for its conference title game. Shoot, it has struggled to get regional relevance, too. It is a game that has been overshadowed by the SEC and Big 12 title game, in part because it has never featured an undefeated team. Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas are just more appealing than Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. How would the Big East title game play if it pitted an 8-4 UConn team against an 8-4 Houston team?
2. Attendance. It is difficult enough filling neutral-site games. Now you want to fill a neutral site, potentially outdoors in December, and hope fans whose teams are 2,000 miles away travel all the way East? Then expect them to travel to a bowl game? It is one thing for Alabama fans to drive to Atlanta. But it is quite another to ask Boise State fans to go to New York City for a conference title game, then maybe even a BCS game, too. Let's be honest, the current Big East members do not have a reputation for traveling well. Even if they did, it would be a hard sell. Have you seen all the empty seats at the ACC title game?
3. What if ... The Big East has an undefeated team in position to play for a national championship? But it loses in the conference championship game? It happened four times in 15 years in the Big 12. You can see why Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Texas coach Mack Brown are not in favor of a league title game.
Stoops once said: "You could be undefeated and you could be playing a team that has two-or-three losses and the teams that you are looking at playing in the national championship are sitting at home not playing because they don’t have the championship game ... In those situations, you don’t like it. It’s just another major hurdle on your way to another possible national championship. You have all this emotion in your conference championship now you have to have it all again for the next game, the national championship."
Would there be a bump for an undefeated Big East team that wins a 13th game? Hard to imagine. The SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 all have championship games of their own.
A home game for the team with the best record might just be more feasible at the start in order to get momentum built and at least ensure a large crowd. But I am just not sure what a conference title game does for the Big East.
Weigh in now. Thumbs up or thumbs down?