If you'd asked anyone in college football a month ago which major conference faced the most serious threat of extinction from conference realignment, all of them would have said "the Big East," including the ones associated with the Big East. Cowering in the looming shadow of Big Ten expansion, former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese, longtime Syracuse athletic director Jake Crouthamel and West Virginia coach Bill Stewart all weighed in this spring on the conference's imminent demise as a viable football league.
Instead, with the realignment gears apparently grinding to halt this week, the Big East emerges not only unscathed but un-mentioned in the turmoil that threatened to raze much of the national landscape over the last two weeks. That might not have been the case if Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe hadn't stepped in over the weekend to save what remained of his conference with a miracle television deal, without which the dominoes may have continued to fall and the Big Ten might have set its sights on the Big East, after all.
Indirectly, then, Dan Beebe saved the Big East, too, kind of. So it was only appropriate that Big East commissioner John Marinatto let Beebe know how much it meant to him:
... on Tuesday, Marinatto showed his appreciation with a small gesture. His office sent 10 red and 10 white roses to Beebe and the Big 12 conference with a card that simply read "Unity."
"The color combination signifies unity and 10 -- rather than a dozen -- represented their new membership number," Marinatto told FanHouse Wednesday.
"Unity" is an ironic sentiment to celebrate with a commissioner who lost two members of his conference in two days and almost watched the whole operation go up in smoke until he came up with a $150 million pledge from the TV networks. (For good measure, Beebe also trashed two fellow conferences in an effort to salvage the Big 12, ultimately losing a team to both.) Still, as long as Mrs. Beebe doesn't get to jealous, I'm sure it was appreciated.