1. Villanova’s Jay Wright, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and Pitt’s Jamie Dixon all said this past week that UConn coach Jim Calhoun was a mentor to them when they got into the Big East. They mentioned how Calhoun essentially indoctrinated them into the league and Wright added that he was essential in helping Wright prepare for the Final Four in 2009. Calhoun has now retired. The senior statesman in the Big East, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, is off to the ACC in 2013. Now, veterans Dixon and Brey will be off to the ACC, as well, in 2013 and either ’14 or ’15 for Brey if not next season (if the Irish can buy their way out earlier). So who will be the leader in the league? The onus will now be on Wright and Georgetown’s John Thompson III to take the leadership role in the Big East meetings and be the new voices of the conference. Wright and JT3 have to be a dominant presence and speak up to help steer the direction of a conference that is looking for new roles going forward.
2. I agree with new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco that the league’s demise is not an issue. Losing Notre Dame is a brand hit. The whole key to holding the league together is keeping Louisville and Connecticut. So far the Big 12 and ACC haven’t shown any new interest in either party. Keep those two programs to go along with Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Cincinnati, St. John’s and newcomers Memphis and Temple and the Big East should be able to secure a solid financial hoops package that likely will be televised by multiple partners from ESPN, NBC and CBS. I’ve never thought the Big East would go exclusive to one network. There is too much inventory for one network in hoops with 17 teams. Aresco is from the television world and it makes sense to maximize the viewership by distributing to multiple properties.
3. The Atlantic 10 doesn’t seem too concerned that it will get poached by the Big East, according to multiple league sources. It shouldn’t be at this juncture. I can’t see in the current climate the Big East adding a non-football-playing member to its roster of teams during a television negotiating period. As great a coup as it would be to land Xavier, the Big East doesn’t need the Musketeers when it has UC in the marketplace. And the above mentioned schools are enough to satisfy a TV deal. If any more alignment were to occur, the Big East can always grow with more football-playing schools like Boise State and San Diego State (BYU and Air Force are always options to explore).