The Big East is digging for a fight, and the league appears to have found a new mouthpiece in Paul Tagliabue.
Tagliabue, the former NFL commissioner, was hired this week by the Big East as an unpaid consultant. But like everyone else in college sports, he spent time this week talking about the Big Ten and had some harsh words toward the league and the potential ramifications of its expansion push.
Tagliabue told The New York Times that the Big Ten's expansion study is "very disruptive" to everyone else in the college sports world.
"Everything outside the Big Ten is held in artificial suspension," Tagliabue told the newspaper. "The Big Ten looks at a bunch of choices and everyone else has to deal with the depreciating value and a ton of negativity. I hope there’s a better way. Otherwise it’s going to have a terrible negative effect on everyone other than the schools in the Big Ten.”
Tagliabue also questioned whether adding schools in the New York area, such as Rutgers and Syracuse, could really help the Big Ten or its television partners.
"One of the real challenges for the networks is to provide value, but you only provide value in markets where you provide traction," he said. "Is Minnesota and Rutgers going to get a big rating on Long Island? Give me a break. Every game isn’t Michigan and Michigan State.” He added, "Am I going to rush home from a tennis game on Saturday to watch Minnesota and Rutgers if I live on Long Island?"
Rutgers, for the record, is still a member of the Big East. I'm sure the folks in Piscataway loved hearing those words from a new consultant to their league.
Is Tagliabue correct in his comments? For the most part, yes. The Big Ten's expansion decision certainly will have a major impact on college sports, and it could decimate leagues like the Big East or even the Big 12. And a Minnesota-Rutgers game probably doesn't move the needle much, but having Ohio State or Penn State coming to Rutgers would create some more buzz in the area.
Once again, I see this as a reaction to the Big Ten. Since Dec. 15, everyone has reacted to the Big Ten. And that's not a bad thing at all for Jim Delany and his league.