There’s little doubt that the Big East has suffered from the lack of star power this season. Either UConn or West Virginia will win the conference crown and get the automatic BCS berth. With neither team even remotely ranked anywhere near the top 25, the only other possible worse-case scenario for AQ conferences and teams would be if Notre Dame managed to scam one of their automatic bids. In further news of desperation, it was announced today TCU has accepted an invitation to join the conference and will do so by 2012. To me now, it’s readily apparent that the Big East is flailing blindly in it’s death throes has no freaking clue what to do to survive as a BCS entity.
And why TCU? Two good seasons and they’re ready to skip halfway across the country? Forget for a second about the new Mountain West class coming in with Boise State, and forget about a leveled-off Big 12 in need of two teams in the future. On what planet does a team from Texas play others on a regular basis who are situated somewhere around the Atlantic Ocean? I guess having a direction in your conference name has become an anachronism.
Fortunately, I think I have a way out of this mess and have a solution for the Big East, the BCS, and wayward teams looking for greener pastures: Turn the Big East into a AAA minor league conference of teams wanting to work their way up to the show. Yea, it’s professional ball–of sorts–meaning that the conference is still in the BCS, but it’s chock full of transients rather than permanent members, although you’d certainly be welcome to stay if you like. Teams play for a decade or so until either they get drafted eventually by bigger conferences or they sink back down in obscurity to AA or A ball, literally or figuratively. This would be the perfect solution for a myriad of teams looking to break into the big time and could provide a short-term basis for long-distance play and a lack of natural rivalries. Perhaps slots in the new Big East (NBE) can be owned, if you will, (and supported/subsidized) by each existing BCS conference, for use as their own farm system. Hey, you mid-majors wanted Bowl welfare, hear me out here. This could be the Obamacare of BCS-busting mid-major schools.
Assume the SEC wants to expand one day in the states of Florida and Alabama and owns two slots in the NBE. And say that Central Florida and Troy have been playing well the past few years and can’t quite break that mid-major mold. Since they can probably buy out existing mid-major conference contracts for a truckload of footballs and a player to be named later, the SEC could offer these schools slots into the NBE so they can step up the competition for their prospect dramatically. Every year thereafter, they play in a BCS conference with other hungry up-and-coming teams, with all due respect coming to a real BCS conference, and let the cream rise to the top. Deserving teams then might be offered permanent membership into established BCS conferences (now mega sized) that are more geographically desirable and manageable.
It’s a win-win for teams who are envious of moving into big time play but are hampered by having come years late to the CFB party. Establishing a winning program takes decades, but this would be a fast track for those willing to make a short-term sacrifice. Heck, even established teams might benefit from being demoted down to the minor leagues. Although in the SEC I’d never be in favor of voting to drop a member school for anything short of continued egregious conduct, some teams might decide to take a break from the pressure of major conference ball and allow another team to temporarily occupy their spot. You never know. Perhaps buy and sell these slots on the open market or trade them on the commodities exchange (joke). At least the conferences might have the flexibility, or if the landscape changes one day soon, the authority to demote and promote teams.
I know no other way to keep the Big East alive and off life support. As it is now, being the victim of more defections than an East German street near Checkpoint Charlie, they’ve got to do something to remain relevant in today’s game. Syracuse is in a decade-long slump, Pitt is Jeckyl and Hyde and West Virginia is about to slide back to it’s customary two-decade long slumber, so the backbone of the conference that is left is quite shaky. And who would take them anyway if the Big East folded? The ACC? They got problems of their own–like how to sell CCG tickets. They don’t need any more mouths to feed.
Hey, you think I’m kidding, but let’s keep an eye on how many other off season whacky attempts are made to inflate the conference further. God bless them for trying, if not over-reaching. Sooner or later they may have to change their name to Big East/West.