This is not an argument that one team or one conference is better than another conference. If you want those arguments, there are certainly places on the internet you can find them.
I have drafted the following nine posts as part of my argument for keeping the Big East together. Like you, I have a team that I like more than the others. Also, like your team, my team is one that had a rumored conference or two that it could leave the Big East for. After being giddy for a couple days, I started thinking, from a fan’s perspective, of what a move would mean. In the end, I came to a conclusion that I wish more Big East fans would come to: The Big East is a great conference that is worth keeping.
There are a few issues to get through before we even get to the benefits of the Big East.
First, we can probably all agree that the Big East should simply drop DePaul, Providence, St. John’s, and Marquette; pick up a new football school or two (UCF and Memphis wouldn’t totally offend me, though I personally think that Maryland and Boston College would/should rather be in the Big East than the ACC), and just move on. Since it doesn’t appear that will happen, the following argument is simply that the status quo is better than any of the alternatives.
The following posts are all from a fan’s perspective. I have ignored all monetary issues because, no one can possibly give an honest answer about what the differences will actually be from leaving the eight-team Big East to join a 16-team Big Ten or ACC.
Almost every school in the Big East is hoping to be a member of another conference within the next three years. In varying degrees, Rutgers, Pitt, UConn, and Syracuse would like an invite from the Big Ten. West Virginia, Louisville, USF, and Cincinnati would like to join the ACC. West Virginia fans even think the SEC may come calling.
Because your team can’t win every game on the field, college football fans take to talking smack about anything they possibly can. There are fans of teams that haven’t won anything in decades that still talk smack about each recruiting victory they achieve. Once the team finishes the season with somewhere between five and eight wins, as most teams do, then they talk smack about any of their fellow conference-members that get a big win. All of a sudden, the fan of Ole Miss (hypothetically) is a fan of the entire SEC, at least for the purposes of talking smack.
Since one’s team isn’t going to win the national championship, or maybe even beat its big rival, fans turn to any little thing they can talk trash about. For instance, when a school needs to hire a new football coach, the fans all want a celebrity coach. A Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, etc. If the school hires someone no one has ever heard of, whether the coach is good or not, the fans are mad. Why? Because they want the celebrity coach to CHOOSE their school over all of the others. At the end of the day, whether your school hires Dave Wannstedt (a coach that everyone in the country knew of because of his NFL coaching career) or Gene Chizik (a coach that only the college football nerds knew of), the name value alone, has no affect on whether your team will win… but that doesn’t matter. Fans just want bragging rights. Remember Gene Chizik?
Now, going a little bit further, if the Big Ten should choose to add Pitt, Rutgers, UConn, and/or Syracuse, then fans of those schools can (and will) talk smack that they were more “wanted” than the other schools. They will all of a sudden be better than those left behind for no reason other than the fact that they were chosen. Virginia Tech was “better” than the rest of the Big East teams despite the fact that its records in conference play its last three years were 4-3, 3-4, and 4-3.
If you go on the Rutgers message board right now, you will find that there are threads saying that RU should join the Big Ten because it doesn’t fit in academically with the rest of the Big East.
I’ve often thought of sports like I do a television show. For many fans, if you’re team is losing then you stop watching. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a fairweather fan. It just means that your favorite show is having a bad season. The writing may be bad. The good characters may be gone. The plot may have taken a major twist (for the worse).
If your team is winning and the games are exciting, then obviously more fans are going to watch. This is just like a show that hits its stride. The core audience (diehard fans), on the other hand, are going to watch no matter what. Unfortunately, I’m a member of the core audience when it comes to the Big East. But football is a lot more fun when your 40-65,000 seat stadium is full (and I’m not counting fans for the other team). The conference that your football team plays in is obviously going to affect which games you are watching each Saturday. I think that, as a television show, the Big East offers more benefits to its current teams than either the Big Ten or ACC… and therein lies the purpose of this incomprehensible nine-part rant.
When conference realignment occurs, no one ever talks about the drawbacks. Joining the Big Ten means tha you will play Ohio State (though not every year), but it also means that you will play Northwestern. It means making trips to The Big House, but no more trips down to sunny South Florida (a brand name not an adjective).
Most college football fans probably like men’s basketball also, and don’t care at all about women’s basketball (sorry UConn), swimming, baseball, etc. If you care about those other sports, I doubt that moving from the Big East or staying in the Big East would change your opinion one way or the other. I have no idea how Big Ten baseball compares to Big East baseball.
At any rate, please read the following posts, which are essentially one long post broken down into bite-sized portions.