COMMENTARY: Big East . . . Dead Man Walking

Head coach Charlie Strong and the rest of the University of Louisville football staff have done an outstanding job during their short tenure. But now the staff is now being threatened by something completely out of their control, conference affiliation

Will there be a Big East conference to call home in the near future? TCU paid roughly five million to bypass the Big East after accepting a bid to join the league. Syracuse reached deep into its pockets and paid 7.5 million to join the ACC as did Pittsburgh. I love Navy but does that make the conference stronger?

What will come of the Big East? No one can truly tell you the answers but one thing is for certain moving forward. Louisville will have a very difficult task of recruiting if they stay in the Big East.

Coach Strong is primed for a very big year by all accounts winning the Big East and heading to a BCS bowl game. Recruits want the big stage and it's something they think about very seriously when decision time arrives. Many recruits feel Louisville is on the verge of something truly special. They can sense it as they speak with coaches, players, family and friends. They want that spotlight and fulfillment of playing on national TV week in and week out and feel Louisville can give it to them.

The coaches have done a wonderful job to this point maintaining a high level of recruiting but now are starting to field more and more questions from recruits. What conference will you be playing in? Is it fair for the coaches to have the full weight of this burden? No it's not but it comes with the territory and they are now having to deal with the issue at hand.

Recruits want to play on the big stage and it's well documented on the first Wednesday of every February as National Signing Day comes and goes. Only three times has a Big East team cracked the top-20 team recruiting rankings in 56 opportunities over the last seven years. In comparison, the Southeastern Conference averages just under four teams in the top ten in the final team rankings over the same time frame. The Southeastern Conference has landed in the top ten 27 times dating back to 2006. The top high school football players want to play where the best football is being played. Do we need to mention the Southeastern Conference has won six BCS National Titles in a row?

Some will try and convince you it all comes down to basketball but that is a non-factor in this discussion. College football, revenue and television markets are the driving force behind 99% of conference realignment proceedings. Was Louisville late to the party? Not the point if this was the case because the only point that matters now is what are they going to do about it.

Some would suggest to you that Louisville simply needs to schedule stronger out of conference opponents but that is easier said than done. There are plenty of push over type teams out there for the major powers to collect a paycheck from other than Louisville. Let's face it why schedule a team like Louisville when you run the risk of getting beat on the field. What's in it for these premier programs to schedule Louisville moving forward.

At the end of the day Charlie Strong and the rest of the Louisville staff have to figure out a way to overcome this issue but don't pretend it's not an issue. The time is now for Louisville to make a decision and the clock is ticking.


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