Questions Need Answers, Cards Patient
With Miami and Virginia Tech's decision to bolt the Big East for the stability of the Atlantic Coast Conference, questions abound regarding the future makeup of collegiate athletic conferences throughout the nation.
For Louisville fans, these questions have created anxiety and uncertainty about what role the Cardinals will play in this process. Cardinal fans want answers to the questions of when and where UofL will land when the conference reshuffling comes to an end. However, uncertainty may force Cardinal fans to wait a while longer until some important and fundamental questions are answered.
The most important questions that need answers before a move can be made by Louisville are these;
Will the ACC's request to hold a conference championship football game with less than 12 members gain approval?
Do the 12 remaining Big East members desire continued affiliation or is a split between the football and non-football playing members inevitable?
How does the loss of Miami and Virginia Tech affect the BCS status of the remaining Big East conference?
With rumors swirling in national media outlets prominently linking Louisville to the Big East and to a lesser degree the 12th and final slot in the ACC, the most pertinent inquiring for both leagues and the Cards before any party makes a move is whether or not the ACC's request to hold a lucrative football championship game with only 11 members will be approved.
If approved, the ACC will likely remain at its current 11 members, hold an annual football championship game between the top two teams and split the profit eleven ways instead of twelve.
As for the Big East, if football championship games can be played by conferences with ten teams, it's logical to assume the current football and non-football schools in the league will decide to part ways and pursue different paths.
If that happens, the six current football playing members of the Big East Conference (UCONN, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Boston College and West Virginia) would most likely look to add four new members and stage its own football championship game.
Needing four teams, the Big East would most likely look immediately to Louisville and Cincinnati from Conference USA and then turn south to the Sunshine State to bring in Central Florida (MAC) and South Florida (C-USA) to round out a new, ten team all-sports conference.
However, if the ACC request is denied and conferences must have twelve members to stage a football championship game, leaders in the Atlantic Coast Conference will likely begin eyeing potentials for the 12th and final spot immediately.
And this is where it could get tricky for someone like Louisville, the presumed favorite of the Big East. Assuming the ACC desires to round out its current expansion process with a 12th team and is unable to lure a Notre Dame, Penn State or fill in the blank Southeastern Conference member, the Cards may just find themselves as the top choice of not one but two league wish lists.
What to do in that situation? If you're a Louisville fan, simply trust AD Tom Jurich, who just happens to be the nation's best director of athletics and a visionary mastermind of strategy and skill.
The nest question is difficult in nature to answer and only the presidents and AD's in the Big East can make the decision.
The fundamental question the twelve remaining Big East members must decide is what direction the conference should take. The options appear limited to two basic proposals; remain a confederation of football and non-football playing members or split the two sides into different conferences.
While early in the process, here are some responses given yesterday to the Providence Journal from Big East leaders on the subject:
Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo: "In the past, because we were 14 schools, the football schools were really limited in how we looked at expansion."
"Now, that will be one of the first things to be discussed. We need to
find out what will be the best direction for us to go as Division 1-A
Syracuse AD Jake Crouthamel: "It's clearly an option (referring to a split between non-football and football playing members) and something we need to explore. It's something we've talked about for three years. Now that we are not eight (football schools), but we are six, that's something we have to look at as one of the options."
Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese: "The question is can all of their needs be fulfilled by the 12 of them remaining together? Or do they have to separate to fulfill their needs. I think that's the most important question that we're going to have to answer at the outset before we do anything else."
Providence AD Bob Driscoll: "Any of the people leaving is not a good
situation. It's too early to speculate what football's impact will be, but we're
take a cooling off period to digest it all and move forward from there."
Another important question that needs answering regards the BCS status of the Big East Conference without Miami and Virginia Tech.
With the loss of its top two football playing members, the BCS status of the Big East conference has been questioned by fans and the media alike. Here are some responses given yesterday to USA Today regarding the Big East's status as a BCS conference:
Mike Tranghese: "We met from 10 to 5 Monday, and no one brought (the Big East's BCS status) up. . . . I just don't get the sense from anyone I talked to, meaning any conference commissioners, that there is any intent to do anything. But can they change their mind? Yeah, and if they do we'll have to do what we have to do."
Jake Crouthamel: "There is nothing in the BCS contract itself or the television contract with the BCS that deals with change in membership. I've scoured that thing and find nothing," he said. "So, really, I guess the decision as to whether we remain as a BCS conference through the expiration of the current contract will really be up to the commissioners of BCS conferences; and in conjunction probably with ABC (which televises the BCS games)."
ABC Sports senior vice president Loren Matthews: "We'd expect to have some input, but at the end of the day (the BCS conferences) set the parameters."
Until some or all of these important questions are answered, Cardinal fans will likely have to remain patient a little longer until the conference fate and direction of the program will be known.
Just remember, the journey is often more exciting and enjoyable than the final destination. Enjoy the spotlight Cardinal fans. UofL, as the nation's top non-BCS school, is the prime target of conferences looking to expand and we face an extremely bright future in a strong and respected conference.
Which one? Well stay tuned………………………..