- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Rick Pitino has turned into a mighty interesting blogger. Last time we checked in, Pitino was tossing around "Godfather" references (Syracuse was "Tessio," if I remember correctly) and prescribing advice for a suddenly besieged Big East conference.
You may not agree with his latest take on conference realignment, but it is just as entertaining as any of the previous efforts. In this edition, Pitino bucks the current consensus -- that conference realignment, even Syracuse and Pittsburgh's moves from the Big East to the ACC, are football-driven -- with precariously sourced insider knowledge. Let's see what he means:
Let’s get to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If my information is correct, the ACC, namely certain basketball coaches, did not like the amount of exposure BIG EAST basketball was getting nationally and the amount of tournament teams selected the past couple of seasons. Their feelings were made known at conference meetings. Now true or untrue, you can’t tell me that Pitt and Syracuse are making ACC football significantly better. In the last few years, they have laid off more football staff coaches than Bank of America did with its employees last week. Obviously this is an exaggeration, but let’s take a step back.
[...] BIG EAST basketball became too strong and certain factions didn’t like that fact. Remember, the ACC had that reputation and dominance in basketball for years.
That's certainly one theory. It's one we haven't heard all that much about, frankly, which causes one to instinctively think it might be a little bit farfetched. Conference realignment has always been about football markets and football money. Maybe basketball strength applies in rare cases -- and an ACC/Big East move would seem to be one of those cases -- but it's hard to imagine a group of ACC coaches or ADs pressuring the league office to add two dominant basketball programs with the No. 1 goal being to strengthen the ACC and win back that "best hoops conference in the country" moniker. Is that really an argument those coaches could have won? Or was it just another minor factor in an overwhelmingly good move for the league?
I don't know, but it's an interesting theory. From there, Pitino covers the steps Big East members need to take to keep the conference strong, all of which are worth your glance. (For example: They include the addition of Temple "immediately.") If only every coach was willing to be so revealing in blog form. If basketball never worked out, the man might have been in my chair typing this post as we speak. In other words, dude can blog.