Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Tulane changes tune on fickle Big East
By Matt Fortuna
This gives whole meaning to the phrase Big Easy.
Tulane's announcement Tuesday that it will join the Big East in 2014-15 marries New Orleans with a conference that is down to one football program in the New York market, is about to boast nine former football-playing Conference USA members and is seemingly hanging on to several others by a thread.
And there's the whole pending new television deal, too, something considerably more difficult to negotiate when one of the biggest schools in the conference jumps ship to the Big Ten. (Rutgers, fittingly, opened this season with a win at Tulane.)
"The Big East has been a conference of opportunity for new members, and Tulane is well on the way to taking advantage of Big East membership," commissioner Mike Aresco said during Tuesday's conference call.
At least Tulane president Scott Cowen saw the conference for what it was eight months ago, when he told the school's student weekly, The Tulane Hullabaloo: "If you look at the Big East now, the Big East is no more than the old Conference USA. Every school in the Big East with the exception of Rutgers and UConn will have come from Conference USA and the Mountain West."
Well, there is Temple. And future football members Boise State and San Diego State. But no more Rutgers.
And, well, there are some more gems, thanks to that telling interview with The Hullabaloo unearthed by colleague Brett McMurphy.
"My view is that the Big East is not a power conference, and anyone who thinks they are doesn’t know athletics," Cowen told The Hullabaloo in the March 23 story.
More than 40 years ago, Cowen played college football at UConn. On Tuesday, naturally, he was singing a different tune about the Big East, saying it is a great fit for Tulane.
"I would say on a personal level, as someone who was born and raised in New Jersey, who was a student-athlete at a Big East school, I've always been looking for the bridge between the Big East and New Orleans," Cowen said on a teleconference. "This is the bridge I had hoped for, and I am so delighted that I'll be able to go back and forth now over the years between a great conference and a great city."
Where to next is anyone's guess.