Rick Pitino blogs on Big East 'chess match'

You have to hand it to Rick Pitino: He's a pretty solid blogger.

All the ingredients are there. He's got voice. He seems authentic. He even understands the importance of a good pop-culture reference, which he used to full effect in this blog post about Syracuse and Pittsburgh's dual departures for the ACC. Pitino seems like the kind of guy that always has a "Godfather" analogy ready:

So much tradition and success. The words of the Pitt chancellor ring out at the Newport, RI league meetings: we must stick together. There is a scene from the godfather where one of the capo’s of the Corleone family approached Michael at his dad’s funeral. He told Michael he could arrange a meeting to stop the bloodshed. The Godfather told Michael that the one who comes to set up the meeting will be the one who betrays the family. Robert Duval, as Tom Hagen the consigliere, thought it would be Clemenza who would be the one. Instead, it was good old Abe Pagoda as Salvatore Tessio. Michael Corleone’s response to Tom was the answer to why Pittsburgh and Syracuse would make the move. His response: it was the smart move.

See? That's a great "Godfather" reference! (Even if poor Abe Vigoda gets his name misspelled.)

Of course, Pitino does have some ideas on what the Big East needs to do if it is going to survive as a conference. He thinks the league needs to secure four football schools pronto, and he seems to think (as seems to be the consensus) that those four schools should come from what's left of the Big 12, provided Oklahoma, Texas and their satellite buddies Oklahoma State and Texas Tech decide to make this Pac-16 superconference thing official:

I believe West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida and Louisville will stick together. But where? Which Big will that be? The Big 12, or as I hope, the BIG EAST?

Who lands and who moves first?

The Big 12 has to wait and see what Oklahoma does. The BIG EAST must move quickly and secure four football schools to enter ASAP and be ready for two more possible defections.

Central Florida? Is Baylor or Iowa State next? What about Kansas and Kansas State? Personally, I like Memphis being tossed into the mix. Great basketball tradition (much needed with Syracuse and Pitt leaving), but they must guarantee an upgrade of their football program, which is definitely possible.

Pitino also nominates Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich as the candidate to head the Big East's search, and while he may be a bit biased there, it's not a bad idea. At the very least, Jurich is one of the few current Big East administrators with big-time football experience, and Pitino seems to think the Big East can't continue to exist without at least a marginal football presence.

If the conference can rally the troops, it may be able to avoid permanent extinction. Pitino seems less optimistic on this front:

The BIG EAST will have a conference call and the football members will all say they will stick together – that is, until an offer they can’t refuse comes along. I love these movie analogies.

Another great "Godfather" reference. Take notes, kids. This is how you blog.

As myself and others have written this morning, it seems the only viable route for continued Big East existence is a merger with the remnants of the Big 12. But what if Oklahoma and Texas decide to stay put? Can the Big East continue without Syracuse and Pittsburgh? If Connecticut and Rutgers both leave for the ACC as expected, does that weaken the Big East to the point that it becomes outmoded? What happens then?

I don't know. Pitino doesn't know. But it's clear the remaining Big East membership has to think deeply and act swiftly in the next week. In this realignment environment, it doesn't take long to get left behind.