West Virginia wants to bolt the Big East for the Big 12 next year. Big East bylaws require 27 months notice.
The Mountaineers, according to CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy, are suing for their freedom. Big East commissioner John Marinatto says “a contract is a contract.”
Syracuse and Pittsburgh are publicly silent but also hope to skirt the 27-month rule as they move to the ACC.
Stalemate? Posturing? Can’t we all just get along?
Welcome to the food fight of conference realignment, where no one escapes unstained.
The Big East is torqued at West Virginia, Syracuse and Pitt, and depending on what was said behind closed doors, that anger may be absolutely justified. Moreover, the three defections have prompted a reconfiguration of the league that can only be described as tortured.
Boise State and Air Force? Houston and SMU? Somewhere Elbridge Gerry (look it up, kids) smiles.
But what’s the point of holding WVU, Pitt and Syracuse hostage for not one, but two more seasons?
To help retain the conference’s Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifier status? Those standards figure to change when the BCS contracts expire in two years, and if Marinatto irks his fellow commissioners, they may do him no favors when crafting a revised AQ formula.
To fulfill TV deals? Just to make the Mountaineers, Panthers and Orange suffer? Look, have your people call their people and let’s negotiate this sensibly. Surely, the three schools are willing to pay more than the contracted $5 million exit fee, and just as surely, the Big East has a price in mind.
That’s how the world works.
Or maybe not.
“We are disappointed that West Virginia has adopted this strategy and cannot imagine why it believes it does not have to respect and honor the bylaws it agreed to as a member of the Big East,” Marinatto said in a statement. “Based on an initial review of the lawsuit, it is clear that the allegations and claims in it are false and inaccurate. Certainly there is nothing in it that would justify WVU’s not fulfilling its obligations.”
Really? Does the Big East really want malcontents hanging around, malcontents who, by the way, might win a few conference championships and steal a few NCAA tournament bids?
Big East presidents on Tuesday extended invitations to new members, Air Force, Navy and Boise State for football only, SMU, Houston and Central Florida for all sports, according to the New York Times and other media. Extricate them from their respective conferences ASAP, let WVU, Pitt and Syracuse go, and let’s move on.
Most certainly, neither judge nor jury needs to waste valuable time on these matters – though the lawyers undoubtedly appreciate the billable hours.
OK, maybe the bizarre timing of this realignment – previous rounds have transpired in the spring and summer – precludes the shifts for next season. Schedules must be made and logistics finalized for the 2012 football season. But waiting until 2014 is preposterous.
Remember the ACC’s last expansion? The league announced the additions of Virginia Tech and Miami in June 2003. The Hokies and Hurricanes competed as Big East members for the 2003-04 academic year and then headed to their new home.
But the ACC didn’t finalize Boston College’s admission until October 2003. The Eagles completed that season, plus all of 2004-05 in the Big East.
North Carolina State football coach Tom O’Brien was then Boston College’s big whistle and recalls the awkwardness.
“It wasn’t fun, I can promise you that,” O’Brien said on an ACC teleconference in September. “… From that point on, everybody in the Big East got together and did their best to make sure we didn’t win a football game in the Big East. It was everybody against BC in those days.”
If one extra year in the Big East was unpleasant for Boston College, imagine two extra for Pitt and Syracuse.
“To put it simply, a contract is a contract,” Marinatto said in his statement.
So is marriage. But if your spouse dumps you for another dude and files for divorce, do you still want to cohabitate?
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