Georgetown and Villanova have enjoyed a long basketball rivalry in the Big East for more than 30 years, but that rivalry may have a different home in two years as the league’s non-FBS Catholic schools prepare to split for their own conference.
Add another chapter to the ever-growing saga of conference realignment.
On Thursday, the seven Catholic, non-football schools in the Big East reportedly decided to leave the conference to pursue other options.
The proverbial dominoes have toppled since Nebraska and Colorado decided to switch leagues in 2010, and several teams have opted for a similar fate.
That being said, there’s speculation that four 16-team super-conferences are the future of college sports, which University of Minnesota junior Kyle Stowe said isn’t necessarily positive.
“One thing that’s nice about conferences the way they’ve been is that they’re making geographical sense,” Stowe said. “I’m very opposed to realignment, just from a fan’s perspective. … It’s confusing. It doesn’t make sense.”
Stowe specifically mentioned Maryland and Rutgers — the two East Coast schools that joined the Midwest-based Big Ten last month — and said realignment could affect how fans travel to games.
Television revenue, like the $242 million that Big Ten Network generated in 2011, is a big reason why teams are changing conferences.
Earlier this year, the ACC and the Big 12 both inked long-term television deals, worth $3.6 billion and $2.6 billion respectively.
Syracuse fan Bobby Stroud said he understands why realignment is happening, but overall he said he thinks it’s a “little ridiculous.”
“They let one team do it, and then everyone feels the need to let their school change conferences so they can get more money,” said Stroud, a junior at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y. “Basically, it’s going to be a bunch of super-conferences and conferences nobody cares about.”
In a couple of years, the once-prestigious Big East may be one of those conferences. Once considered the country’s premier basketball league, only three of the Big East’s 15 current members (for basketball) are set to stay put.
The Big East is in a bit of a bind, because its current media-rights deal is set to expire after the 2012-2013 basketball season.
Stroud, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., and an Orange fan, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the league folded in a couple of years.
“I feel like [realignment] is going to wipe out the Big East,” he said.
Realignment has also wiped out some of college sports’ top rivalries — a la Nebraska versus Oklahoma, or Texas versus Texas A&M — which Stowe finds to be egregious.
“I think a lot of people, including myself, look down on how it’s tearing down these geographical rivalries,” he said.
The geographical differences may have some advantages, though. University of Iowa sophomore Chris Bong said it’ll be interesting to see new teams.
“There are new opponents. It changes things up so you’re not always playing the same people,” he said.
The faith-based non-football schools are expected to try to form their own conference along with schools from the Atlantic 10.
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