Big East hung up on 14th member

… says Brett McMurphy. He follows that up with the usual talk about BYU, Air Force, and Army. For the most part it’s everything you already know. But at the end, we get this bit:

When the Big East grows to 14, league officials already have had discussions how to split the divisions. The most popular 14-team model, sources said, would be “Red” and “Blue” divisions that are non-geographic.

The Red Division would consist of Louisville, South Florida, Connecticut, San Diego State, SMU, Navy and Memphis. The Blue Division: Cincinnati, Central Florida, Rutgers, Boise State, Houston, Temple and the 14th team.

Each team would play six league games within its division and two games against the other division, including one permanent cross-division rival game. Those annual cross-division matchups would be: Louisville-Cincinnati, USF-UCF, UConn-Rutgers, San Diego State-Boise State, SMU-Houston, Navy-Temple and Memphis versus the 14th team.

Well there’s something new to talk about.

Geography-based divisions were off the table pretty early. Neither Cincinnati or Louisville wanted to be in a “West” division, and the new conference members didn’t want to play in a division by themselves without really integrating with the “old” Big East. This is the first report we’ve seen of a possible divisional alignment, and while it’s possible that it’s subject to change, I like this setup. For Navy, anyway. We’d keep our developing rivalry with SMU (GANSZ TROPHY FOREVER!), gain a permanent presence in California, and have the fringe benefit of playing in places where there are a lot of Navy fans when we hit the road (San Diego and Memphis). I don’t mind playing Temple as our cross-divisional rival, although I might prefer Rutgers only because they’ve become more of a rival recently. That’s splitting hairs, though, since we’re no stranger to Temple either. If Air Force becomes the 14th member then it wouldn’t matter either way since we’d play them instead.

The only downside in this alignment is not having an annual game against UCF. I was hoping to start a rivalry with them, with the trophy being George O’Leary’s severed head on a stick. It’s not too late to make it happen, Big East!

What would your ideal divisions look like?

New Big East Power Rankings – Week 3

The New Big East had a pretty good week this week (until you get to the bottom, but hey, that’s why they’re the bottom). There were two wins against ACC teams, and there were no OOC losses that weren’t expected. Three weeks in and we’re starting to get a handle on the conference.

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Notre Dame To The ACC (Sort Of): The Knee-Jerk Reaction

Notre Dame is leaving the Big East and taking its non-football (and non-hockey) programs to the ACC. Some thoughts:

— Get ready for another round of “OMGLOL @ THE BIG EAST!” in the media. It certainly isn’t a good thing for the Big East image-wise, but I don’t think it’s a disaster, either. Obviously, the first thought is how this will affect the Big East’s upcoming negotiations for its new television contract. It shouldn’t make that much of a difference. Notre Dame basketball isn’t exactly the crown jewel of the whole media package the Big East is selling. The Big East is still a premier basketball league, and football is still the primary driver in all of this. NBC and FOX’s desire to get a foothold in that market– and ESPN’s desire to keep them out– is still what will drive the value of the deal.

— The big “if” in all that is assuming that the ACC stays at 15 for basketball and doesn’t add another basketball-only member from the Big East. If the ACC goes after, say, Georgetown or St. John’s, then that would be a pretty serious blow to the basketball side of the conference. That is pure speculation, though. I have no idea if the ACC sees any appeal in adding another Big East school for any reason other than symmetry. In a larger sense you have to wonder what the overall reaction of the basketball schools is to this, but I don’t think this is the catalyst for a split. They have nowhere to go and aren’t as valuable financially when separated from the football schools.

— Losing the “or Notre Dame” option doesn’t do the Big East any favors in trying to secure bowl partners. The flip side of that is that they won’t have to worry about conference members getting shut out of games in favor of Notre Dame either. Still a net loss for the Big East in my opinion. Having the Notre Dame carrot definitely made the Big East more attractive to bowl games.

— While Notre Dame remains independent in football, they will schedule 5 games per year against ACC opponents. Navy and Notre Dame are scheduled to play through 2026, but it’s only natural to wonder if Notre Dame’s new scheduling obligations will have any affect on the series after that.

— Along those lines, this is particularly noteworthy:

If changes in college football are making Notre Dame feel scheduling pressure, then that should silence any doubters who didn’t believe that similar pressures are part of what drove Navy to the Big East. It’s very real. I don’t know what this means for BYU or Army, but if they aren’t feeling that pressure now, they probably will soon. I’m sure the Big East has a place saved for either of them.

— Finally, Big East lacrosse is nothing special anymore with the losses of Syracuse and Notre Dame. After adding Loyola, the Patriot League is arguably the (distant) #2 lacrosse conference now. Not that it means anything.

New Big East Power Rankings Week 2

I’m going to shoot straight with you and let you know that this week the rankings are based on box scores and the few summaries I’ve had the time to read this afternoon. I spent most of my weekend delivering Navy’s newest donated offshore sailboat from Newport, RI – something I’ll write more about later this week. As a result, the only college game I got to watch this weekend was the Pitt-Cincy matchup on Thursday night. Without further ado, here’s my latest completely unscientific but unbiased ranking of the teams that will be in the Big East when Navy joins in 2015.

Continue reading “New Big East Power Rankings Week 2”

The New Big East Power Rankings – Week 1

While Navy’s move to the Big East might not be happening for another 3 years, it’s never too early to take a look at what our future conference looks like. Taking the 13 teams that are slated to be in the Big East in 2015, we’ll be ranking them against each other based on their current performance on the field.

1. Louisville – W 32-14 vs. Kentucky – Starting your season off with a win over your in-state, in-the-SEC rival has got to feel good. The final score doesn’t tell you that their starting quarterback, Bridgewater, was 19 for 21 passing (a school record for completion percentage) before heading for the bench in the 3rd quarter and getting the backup QB some serious reps. Louisville also had 2 running backs over 100 yards rushing while Kentucky couldn’t break the century mark as a team.

2. Boise State – L 13-17 @ Michigan State – This was Boise’s 4th consecutive season that started on the road against a ranked opponent. This was also the first time Boise lost that game. Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell turned out to be just too much for the Broncos to handle, rushing for 210 yards and 2 TDs. But even with an offense that sputtered most of the game, Boise was in it right to the end. Give credit to Chris Peterson – Boise lost a lot of talent last year to graduation and the NFL, but they were in the lead until the final 8 minutes of the game.

3. UCF – W 56-14 @ Akron – George O’Leary’s team had a lot of preseason hype that was dinged by an NCAA investigation and postseason ban. While they are appealing the ban, it’s unlikely UCF has anything more to play for than the regular season. The team got off on the right foot, beating the Fighting Chuck Amatos of Akron. Really, these guys were a toss-up with USF for the #3/4 spots. UCF beat a “1-A” team, so they get #3.

4. USF – W 34-13 vs. Chattanooga – What can I say about this game? Nothing really. Didn’t see it. It’s a 1-AA team. BJ Daniels (a candidate for the All-“Wait, what? he’s still in college” team) tossed 3 TDs while Chattanooga was held to just 151 yards. Well get to know a little more about the team when they head to Nevada next week. Maybe?

5. UConn – W 37-0 vs. Massachusetts – UConn won. And they shut them out. And this was UMass’ first game as a FBS team. The fact they held UMass to 59 total yards gets them the #5 spot.

6. Rutgers – W 24-12 vs. Tulane – Greg Schiano, the man who gave Rutgers something other than “we were in the first football game” to talk about, is gone. Tulane lost 10 consecutive games to end the season. But hey, a win is a win.

7. Cincinnati – Idle – The good news is you didn’t lose. The bad news is you didn’t win. You get Pitt on Thursday night coming off that embarrassing loss. Do us proud, Bearcats.

8. Temple – W 41-10 vs. Villanova – Congrats to Temple on winning their first game back from Big East exile. You did get out-gained by Villanova, but who cares. Steve Addazio has kept Temple on the upward trend established by Al Golden, delivering the 3rd Mayor’s Cup in this rivalry. Upcoming games vs. Maryland and at Penn State look to be winnable.

9. San Diego State – L 12-21 @ Washington – OK, if there is a team I underrated here, it’s SDSU. They put up yards on Washington. They had a turned it over on downs inside the Washington 10. But when you only score once in the first 47+ minutes, it’s hard to get too psyched up about a close loss on the road.

10. SMU – L 24-59 @ Baylor – You got your doors blown off, but you managed to score a couple of TD in garbage time to make it more respectable than the #11 team on the list. 501 yards of offense is no joke, but you know what June Jones teams do, so it’s not amazing either.

11. Navy – L 10-50 vs. Notre Dame – Hey, Ireland is pretty. Navy’s defense? Not so much. Trey Miller passed pretty damn well. But anyone who woke up early knows it was a beatemdown.

12. Houston – L 13-30 vs. Texas State – Look, your loss was so bad your offensive coordinator resigned after just one week of the season. But hey, at least you’re not Memphis.

13. Memphis – L 17-20 vs. Tennessee-Martin – What more can we say. At least you have very low expectations right now. But losing to a team from the OVC who had a losing record last year? You gotta do better than that.

Links 6/6

– The Annapolis Capital is reporting that three members of the Navy football team have left the school. They are Center Dale Howard, Fullback Mike Patrick, and linebacker Jarvis Cummings. All three were back-ups on the depth chart, with Howard and Cummings listed as #2 at their positions, while Patrick was 3rd string. While this doesn’t hit the top-line, it certainly undermines depth at those positions.

– Navy Women’s Lacrosse team captain Kierstin King has been selected to play in the IWLCA Senior All-Star Game on June 16th. She joins two other players from the Patriot League, Lehigh’s Leigh Ann Torcivia and Colgate’s Courtney Miller.

– The Big East is looking towards the Poinsettia Bowl for possible western expansion of their bowl game tie-ins starting in 2014. Their current bowl inventory does not reach the Mississippi River, with the westernmost bowl game being the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. The MWC has an agreement with the Poinsettia Bowl that expires in 2013. With Navy scheduled to play in the bowl game in 2014 (if bowl eligible), such a match-up could give us a preview of league play in 2015.

The demo for NCAA Football 13 has hit the PS3 and Xbox 360. While this normally wouldn’t be huge news for our blog, there’s a hook. Users who share the demo with friends will unlock Nike Pro Combat uniforms for five teams: Ohio Shate, LSU, Boise State, Stanford and…wait for it…Navy. That’s not bad company to keep.

No word yet if there is a combat coaching mode for Air Force fans.

WE CAN’T LET THEM GET ALL OPTIMISTIC ON US, NOW

I’ve been pretty bullish on the Big East’s prospects for getting a competitive television contract, and for a while there was a bit of momentum in the media to support my position.

The surprising reality with the Big East — if it stays together in its intended 13-team and 18-team formats — is that it could still be a lucrative league. Football drives the financial bus, and basketball provides boundless inventory. While there have been plenty of jokes about who would want to watch San Diego State and Connecticut play football, apparently someone is willing to pay to find out.

Neal Pilson, a media consultant and former president of CBS Sports, predicted that the Big East could surpass the deal it turned down last year, which was considered similar in value to the A.C.C.’s $155 million annual deal.

“I think if they stay together and negotiate as a single unit, I think they can come away with a reasonably favorable result,” Pilson said. “Even more than what ESPN offered a year and a half ago. I think the competition will drive it.”

That’s not the case anymore, as stories this week are all about how the Big East’s TV deal could fall way short of the conference’s expectations. It seems odd to me that these stories started coming out only three days after NBC and Fox Sports representatives made presentations at last week’s Big East meetings that suggested otherwise. Maybe “odd” isn’t the right word… “Convenient” might be more appropriate. It appears that we may be entering a period of public negotiation, with both sides taking their cases to the media. The outgoing Memphis athletic director isn’t exactly an unbiased source, and obviously the Big East wants to appear optimistic coming out of its own meetings. Pilson may or may not have an agenda (I have no idea), but at least he’s named so we can scrutinize his comments accordingly. On the flip side, “industry sources” could have just as much motivation to use public perception to drive down the Big East’s asking price. (In fairness to McMurphy, he points this out at the end of his article).

Continue reading “WE CAN’T LET THEM GET ALL OPTIMISTIC ON US, NOW”

Links 5/23

Inside Lacrosse is reporting that Richie Meade will be named as the first head coach of the new lacrosse program at Furman. It’ll be weird seeing him on another college sideline, but we all knew it would happen at some point. Good for him, and good for Furman.

Navy won the Patriot League Presidents’ Cup for the 2011-2012 academic year. It’s the first time Navy has won. Bucknell had won the last six, with the Mids finishing second in five of those years. Navy doesn’t play Patriot League football, field hockey, or softball, and only recently added women’s lacrosse and women’s tennis. Both of those programs have become very successful very quickly, and their rise (along with the rise of women’s programs in general) helped to finally push Navy over the top. I’ve never worried much about the Presidents’ Cup, but it’s a nice to get a bit of affirmation for a great year by the athletic department.

— Speaking of the rise of women’s lacrosse, Cindy Timchal shall now be addressed as Hall of Famer Cindy Timchal.

Not all the news is good. As the kids say, “smh.” Sperry had dropped on the depth chart this spring thanks to the rise of Jonathan Wev, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have fought back. At the very least he would’ve provided experienced depth for a defense that had none last year. I hate the offseason.

— On to the conference expansion mess… The headline here says “Texas AD not for expanding,” but that’s not really the impression I get from reading the article. The way I read it, DeLoss Dodds is just trying to remain noncommittal, either for the sake of not tipping his hand or just not wanting to set off a firestorm of rumors based on his comments. Like this. I do believe that Big 12 expansion is far from a given, though, especially after their recent monster television deal. Would Florida State and Clemson really add that much value? Would a championship game make enough money to offset splitting television revenue by two (or more) additional teams? Maybe, but I don’t know if that’s a certainty. Let’s hope not.

— The Big East’s league meetings are wrapping up today, but there is plenty to talk about already through days 1 & 2:

  • The most interesting (and important) bit is that NBC and Fox both gave presentations on why the Big East is appealing to them. I don’t know what was contained in those presentations (or where that lovely $2 billion number came from), but I suspect that it pretty much sounded like the last few paragraphs of this. I’m telling you, this conference has the potential to make money if it can just stay together.
  • Speaking of which, one report is saying that “multiple sources” expect Air Force or BYU to join along with Navy in 2015. Well, OK. I don’t know if anyone’s “expectations” are really worth mentioning, since these stories change by the day. I’m going to need to see a lot more smoke before I believe there’s a fire there. If we’re just going to speak hypothetically, then either one of them would be a good addition. Air Force would be better for Navy, although BYU would be better for the league. The best-case scenario would be to add both of them plus Army, but don’t hold your breath. Of the two, BYU might (somewhat surprisingly) be the most likely since they are facing most of the same challenges as an independent that Navy had. I was a big fan of BYU’s independence (still am, actually), but a lot has changed even in the short time that they made that decision. I’m sure that BYU is at least keeping their options open. As for Air Force, I get the feeling that they’re content with attempting to rule the tattered remnants of the Mountain West. A Gazette column calling them “cowardly” is surely on the way.
  • Divisional alignment possibilities were also discussed, although no decision was made. I had always assumed that it would be an east-west split, given that Boise State and San Diego State were both adamant about having a western partner for the conference. I still think it makes the most sense, although I’m also sure that neither Louisville nor Cincinnati get giddy over the thought of joining a western division. All I want is for Navy to be in the same division as UCF so we can create a rivalry trophy out of George O’Leary’s severed head on a stick.
  • The championship game for the conference will be played on-campus instead of at a neutral site. GOOD.

Expanding the Expansion Update

As Andy mentioned this morning, San Diego State is lobbying the Big West on Boise State’s behalf as the Broncos search for a home for sports other than football. The conference is at least willing to listen, but it’s far from a done deal. Hopefully this effort gains some traction so the Big East can get past this hurdle and move into television negotiations without any lingering membership issues.

Continue reading “Expanding the Expansion Update”