Is the Big East about to suffer a deathblow from which it cannot recover?
ACC blogger Heather Dinich is reporting that Syracuse and Pitt have applied for membership into the ACC, a bit of deja vu for a league that already has been decimated by the ACC once before. The Big East has no comment today, but news that two flagship programs are ready to jump ship has made this a very bad morning for commissioner John Marinatto and anybody associated with the league.
The popular thought was Oklahoma and Texas could key what happens in the next wave of expansion. But the ACC clearly is being proactive in an attempt to bolster itself. The ACC has increased its buyout for teams to $20 million. Meanwhile, the Big East buyout remains at $5 million with 27 months notice.
The fact that Syracuse and Pitt are ready to jump ship clearly signals they do not believe in the future of the league, which has been on shaky ground since conference realignment began last year. The Big East made the move to add TCU but has been silent since then, perhaps waiting on other moves before increasing its ranks. That appears to be backward thinking right now.
Syracuse and Pitt are two of the rock-solid programs in the Big East. Their departure would be tough to swallow. The Big East survived after Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech bolted for the ACC. But losing Syracuse and Pitt could be devastating. Sure the possibility exists that the Big 12 implodes and the Big East can add Kansas and Kansas State. Maybe even Missouri.
Word is that Baylor and Iowa State have already reached out to the Big East as a backup in case the Big 12 falls apart.
But that is no sure thing. And what happens to the rest of the league schools? Do they begin the application process somewhere else? The fact that the Big East is not commenting is disappointing, considering this story is so skewed to the ACC perspective right now. But a nondenial means this is a very real situation that the Big East is trying to get a grip on as it tries to save itself.