Brey Dishes On Big East

Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey talks about the league's unbalanced schedule and the issues that come with it. Brey did not pretend to have all the solutions, but did say that there were some options that need to be discussed.

During this morning's teleconference, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey did not want to say whether he thought the Big East Conference is too big.

"That's not my place to say. I know we've had some veteran coaches in this league that feel it is too big," said Brey. "We don't have any other options, this is who we are, this is what we signed up for. We need the Big East."

The Irish came into the 2008-09 season with high hopes and expectations along with the difficult league schedule that comes with those things.

"We were thrown into TV," Brey said. "When you have the Player of the Year coming back and you finish the way you did and style of play and how you played, there's a buzz."

Brey knew that his team was in for a tough year when he found out that it had placed fourth in the straw poll that the league conducts in June.

"If you come in in the top five, you're going to repeat horses, which we've repeated and you're going to play the TV schedule," he said. "It's part of who our league is and I knew it was coming."

In the middle of the difficult league schedule, the Irish went out to California for a non-conference game against a national power and Brey was a little surprised that Notre Dame did not get a break from the league.

"In the midst of it, I scheduled UCLA, but the league knows I've scheduled UCLA. It's not like I told them after they do the league schedule," said Brey. "I put us in a CBS exposure, so maybe to be a little sensitive to, ‘They're going all of the way to L.A.' Well, who did we get when we come back? We come back to Louisville."

Brey understands that putting together a league schedule that is most attractive for television while being fair can be tough.

"I feel for [the schedule-maker] trying to plug it all in and get it all done and with the pressure of getting us out there on TV. I understand his dilemma and arenas and all that. It's very, very difficult," said Brey.

The Big East schedule is different than the other conferences in the country in that they make a completely new schedule each year.

"The ACC's repeat opponents are already scheduled four or five years down the road. They know who they're going to repeat next year, it doesn't have any matter of what Maryland's losing," said Brey. "We are the only league that will do the straw poll and then kind of repeat the top teams for TV purposes. We're the only league that really does that."

The Big Ten schedule is similar to the ACC's as far as who each team plays twice, but like the Big East, the Big Ten plays 18 league games while the ACC plays just 16.

"One of the reasons the ACC league RPI is going to be really high is in those 32 other games that us and the Big Ten will go 16-16 because we're doing it within our league, those are non-league games and the ACC is probably 27-[5]," said Brey. "Now, again I think the committee understands all that and I don't even think league RPI is in the room anymore. But that was one of the reasons we were afraid to go to 18 league games because of the math.

"There's actually some people in our league, head coaches that want to go back to 16. Maybe that's part of the discussion too, I don't know… It gives our league a lot of inventory when we play 18, it gives a lot of potential. You can really put us out there and that's their job too."

Brey offered some ideas for the league to think about, but offered no illusions about having all of the answers.

"Could we go to divisions? I think we have to talk about it. I think there's a movement and an open mind to discuss it in Jacksonville this year," he said. "Can we get a rhythm a little bit to a schedule and you play more than three people twice so there's some kind of league feel? We had that with the East and West divisions.

"I don't know, that's easy for me to sit here and say. All of the dynamics, all of the logistical stuff that they have to deal with and we've got a sexy TV product right now. I understand [they've] got to keep getting us out there, everybody. Get the Big East out there and that helps us, it helps us recruit."

It also has helped the conference develop a reputation as one of the premier leagues in the country, but Brey believes that things could change if that reputation does not produce NCAA bids.

"Our commissioner can sit there and say, ‘Hey, 50% of our league got in, we shouldn't be messing around something's working,'" said Brey. "If we don't get eight bids this year with the buzz of this league, with everybody talking about this league, then probably there will be more of an argument from coaches to say, ‘That didn't work, we beat the heck out of each other. Let's rethink this thing and what do we do."

Brey wanted to be clear that he was not complaining and that it comes with being in one of the nation's toughest leagues.

"I know exactly what I signed up for and can you ride the rhythm of this thing?" he said. "Thrive sometimes, survive others and hang in there."

Brey also wanted to give the league credit for creating the product it did after the defections of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College in 2005. Brey remembered the league meeting when it was not totally sure that the Big East would survive.

"To come back and have this and a buzz and everything," he said. "I've got to give them credit that we've come back off the mat and put something together." Top Stories