Originally posted March 20, 2013 on IndySportsLegends.com.
It’s always tough to see tradition go by the wayside, but the transformation of the Big East basketball conference the past few weeks seems to be a positive for all involved.
Some folks may gripe about the timing with the NCAA Tournament officially underway, but I doubt that the addition of Butler, Creighton and Xavier could have been announced at any time over the next couple weeks without taking some headlines from the tourney.
The way I see it, the adds of the three new teams give the Big East a sort of stability it has been sorely lacking. It also gives the new teams new markets to recruit.
Of the three newbies, I think this helps Creighton the most. True, Butler is in Indianapolis, while Omaha is a two-hour drive from Kansas City, but let’s face it: Butler and Xavier were already getting into other major markets like Philadelphia and New York thanks to their A-10 memberships. Creighton wasn’t — until now.
In this day and age, conferences have to expand their footprints to make a move like this sensible, and this move makes sense to a large degree for the Big East. Arbitron ranks Cincinnati as the 29th largest media market, with Indianapolis at No. 40 and Omaha moving up at No. 75. Throw in a 12-year deal with Fox and the possibility of two more teams by the end of next season, and things are finally looking up for the conference — although I would have liked to see UConn and Cincinnati stay in…UConn for the tradition, Cincinnati for those brawls with Xavier.
As it is, this looks to be the “Catholic 7″ — now the Big East — making the best of a crumbling situation. We’ll see how the now former Big East schools cobble together a conference for football and other sports in the coming weeks.