Big East faces key season with shifting college landscape

The Big East Faces a Pivotal Season Amid College Sports Realignment

The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement at Big East media day on Tuesday. The conference is looking ahead to a big year and celebrating its survival amidst the ever-changing landscape of college athletics.

While college football has undergone significant realignment, resulting in the creation of super conferences and the downfall of the Pac-12, the Big East has not only managed to stay afloat but has thrived. It boasts three of the last seven national champions and has three teams ranked in the preseason top-10: Marquette, Connecticut, and Creighton.

The Big East’s top brands, St. John’s and Georgetown, have also made significant moves to revitalize their programs by hiring program-building coaches Rick Pitino and Ed Cooley, respectively.

According to commissioner Val Ackerman, the Big East embodies the soul of college basketball. However, despite its current success, there is still uncertainty about the conference’s future in the ever-evolving landscape of college sports.

Connecticut, for example, has openly considered joining a larger conference to support its independent football program. Although they are currently committed to the Big East, Athletic Director David Benedict acknowledged that they would consider a better opportunity if it presented itself.

The conference has indirectly suffered from recent realignment movements. The Big Ten backed out of a series of non-conference games with the Big East due to uncertainty about their schedule with the addition of 18 teams next winter. Strong non-conference schedules are crucial for NCAA Tournament resumes, making this loss detrimental for the Big East.

To combat this, the Big East is considering adding another member to bring the total to 12 teams. They have been in talks with Gonzaga, a potential powerhouse addition. However, there are rumors of Gonzaga potentially joining the Big 12 instead.

Despite these challenges, Ackerman is confident in the loyalty of the Big East’s basketball-only schools. She has received assurances from coaches that the conference offers a unique environment where basketball is the driving force.

The upcoming television deal negotiations with Fox are also critical for the Big East’s future. A successful season would strengthen the conference’s bargaining position, potentially leading to a more lucrative deal that can help ensure its stability.

While the Big East is currently in a strong position, it’s important to remember that things can change quickly in college sports. Money has the power to drive unexpected changes. The Big East, once torn apart by football, must continue to adapt and succeed to prevent history from repeating itself.


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