July 20, 2005
Rick Pitino, welcome back to the Big East! We loved you at Providence, and now that you are back in the conference coaching Louisville, it is fitting that you get a real taste of league play.
Just look at the Cardinals' first Big East schedule: Connecticut, Villanova and Cincinnati twice each. Jay Wright's Wildcats and Jim Calhoun's Huskies are both in my preseason top 10.
This should be really interesting for Louisville. As tough as that schedule it is, I'm sure Pitino was thrilled when he heard about those matchups.
Mike Tranghese is one of the bright minds in college athletics.
Life in the Big East is always intriguing, and it wasn't easy to put together the schedule. The 2005-06 season will be the league's first with the five basketball schools that left Conference USA to join the Big East: Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and South Florida.
I have a lot of respect for Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese and associate commissioner Tom Odjakjian.
Tranghese is one of the bright minds in college athletics, and I've known Odjakjian for many years, from the early days of ESPN. He was a superstar at ESPN, playing a vital role in the growth of the network. Odjakjian did an amazing job putting together many exciting matchups for fans.
It wasn't easy keeping everyone happy in the new 16-team Big East, baby!
The Big East has unbalanced scheduling, with each league team playing three schools twice while missing two other schools altogether. I understand the desire to try to get rivalries going. But I feel that playing every school at least once is more fair and gives the sense of a true league.
That's life in the big conferences these days. It has gotten totally wacky with the expansion that has taken place.
One thing that really bothers me about leagues that have expanded over the years is the geographic alignments. Some of them simply don't make sense. It's about greed and dollars, dollars, dollars. I guess you can't blame commissioners who want to make sure their conferences do the best.
The key for a commissioner is to bring enthusiasm, excitement and revenue to the league. They reach out all over for the best teams. Tranghese has done that with the Big East, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.