September 18, 2011
Amid the hand-wringing over the Big East's future in the wake of the abrupt departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh this weekend, Louisville coach Rick Pitino penned a candid blog calling the next 72 hours "crucial" to the league's future.
Pitino acknowledged the very realistic possibility that UConn and Rutgers follow Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, leaving the Big East with just four football-playing schools until TCU arrives in 2012. As a result, Pitino urged Big East officials to identify schools from other leagues that the league can pluck to stave off extinction.
"The Big East will have a conference call and the football members will all say they will stick together — that is, until an offer they can't refuse comes along," Pitino wrote.
"The Big East must move quickly and secure four football schools to enter ASAP and be ready for two more possible defections. Central Florida? Is Baylor or Iowa State next? What about Kansas and Kansas State? Personally, I like Memphis being tossed into the mix. Great basketball tradition (much needed with Syracuse and Pitt leaving), but they must guarantee an upgrade of their football program, which is definitely possible."
That Louisville could be left without a seat at the BCS table in this game of musical chairs is yet another sign of how little basketball pedigree matters to the conference realignment power brokers. The Cardinals have top-notch facilities, a large fan base and rich basketball history, yet the ACC appears more interested in adding success-starved Rutgers instead.
Pitino expects Louisville, Cincinnati, West Virginia and South Florida to stick together, but he acknowledged it's possible that's in the Big East or a new-look Big 12. He also admitted he was surprised Syracuse and Pittsburgh would so suddenly abandon the Big East, throwing in a zinger at ex-league member Boston College in the process.
"Didn't they check Boston College's championship totals since leaving the Big East — one, in soccer in 2005," Pitino quipped.
"This was a 72 hour decision by Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The next 72 hours will be crucial to the Big East."
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