Time for another Big East mailblog, where all your expansion questions have filled the ol' inbox to capacity. Where to begin?
Matt in Tokyo writes: I was reading this story and my attention was caught by a throw away comment in the middle. Big 12 commish [Chuck] Neinas says WVU joining the Big 12 was contingent on joining next season. Should we take that to mean that if WVU is unable to leave prior to that our invitation is revoked/readdressed?
Andrea Adelson: Big 12 blogger David Ubben checked in with the league office, which said absolutely not. "WVU membership in the Big 12 is not contingent upon joining the conference for the 2012-13 season," the league says.
Matt in Plant City writes: Andrea, In regards to the lawsuit filed by West Virginia, what kind of time frame should we expect as far as a decision being reached? What is your opinion as far as which way the outcome will go? Does the possibility that the Big East loses three teams after this season make them speed up their process of expansion of UCF, Houston, Navy, etc.
Adelson: If the legal system is any measure for a time frame, then we are going to have to wait a while. Obviously both sides want a resolution to this matter, but both are entrenched on their own sides. I am not a legal expert, but lawsuits to stop ACC expansion in 2003 did nothing to stop Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech from leaving. I have not figured out how West Virginia would win this case in a court of law, considering the school agreed to abide by these rules when they were set forth. For your third question, the Big East knows who it wants to invite. It just needs to be absolutely certain these schools will accept. It does seem as if the league is moving slowly but at this point, there is no rush because it is the only conference left that has moves to make.
Eric C. in San Antonio, Texas, writes: Hey Andrea. Just moved into the belly of the Beast of all that has caused conference realignment (BIG 12 COUNTRY). You know the funny thing is, WVU has a pretty valid point. [John] Marinatto has done what exactly to keep the remaining schools in the Big East and make them feel like it will be a competitive league? He has "talked" to Boise State and Air Force. He has "talked" to UCF, Houston, SMU... I mean seriously. ECU has already applied for the Big East and that was BEFORE TCU backed out. If he did his job appropriately, we would still have WVU and TCU.
Adelson: I understand all the heat coming Marinatto's way, but there is something else in that lawsuit that confirms what everybody thought to be true -- the basketball schools have had way more power over this than they should. The commissioner is at the mercy of his constituents (Dan Beebe) and while I know you guys are stamping your feet and saying that he should be the one making the decisions, he is not. The university presidents and athletic directors are, and they have all agreed to allow all league members to have a vote in expansion. I am not saying Marinatto is completely blameless. He should have done more to express the need to be proactive in this manner. If the goal was to expand to 12 teams, then it should have been done right after TCU came on board. Then I think this league remains intact. But there is only so much he can do. If the football schools decide at the last moment to veto Villanova, as happened in April, Marinatto should do what exactly? The football and hoops sides have their own self-interests to protect. See Rick Pitino's comments for that perfect illustration. Unfortunately for the Big East, that is always going to be the case. One could argue that what happened in 2003 under Mike Tranghese's watch laid the groundwork for the departures of 2011.
Rich in Brooklyn writes: Hey Andrea, just wondering if you'd agree that Greg Schiano's botch job with Tom Savage last year has anything to do with the fact that he's STILL going with Gary Nova after two awful performances. As a season ticket holder, I just can't wrap my mind around the idea that he's got a proven commodity on the bench in Chas Dodd (pointing specifically to the UNC game where I thought he played pretty well), but insists that Nova gives them the better chance to win now. Also can't see this entire QB situation as anything but a negative in recruiting QBs down the road.
Adelson: Rich, you were one of many who asked this week about whether Schiano was doing the right thing in sticking with Nova as the starter. I have to say I, too, have been puzzled with his decision to stick with a true freshman over somebody with game experience. I understand all the upside Nova has. There is no denying he has a better arm, and his pocket presence really helps with a mediocre offensive line. But Nova has had way, way too many mistakes in the last three games. And that could very well have cost this team a first Big East championship. It's not as if Dodd is awful. Yes he had a bad half against Syracuse. But Nova has had more than a bad half of football. As for recruiting, this is nothing new with Schiano, and that has not deterred guys like Nova and Dodd coming to Rutgers. I think that aspect of it may be overplayed.