Dear Mr. Sheridan,
While I always enjoy your articles, I must respectfully disagree with a couple of the comments you made in your column of Thursday, November 6, 2003, Big East should ask Owls back.
It's not that I necessarily disagree with the premise, as one could certainly debate the merit of asking Temple to stay, given their renewed commitment to football, the fabulous new stadium they now call home and the fine job Coach Wallace has done. (You did fail to capture one of the essential reasons the Big East seeks to divest itself of Temple, that being the fact that the Big East is said to no longer want football-only members...Temple appears committed to the A-10 and does not seem interested in becoming an all-sports member of the Big East. So this can't all be put on the Big East).
What I do take exception to is your characterization of the Big East's actions after having been blindsided by the ACC...
You state that [The Big East has] "just finished doing to Conference USA precisely what they howled, whined, and ran up staggering legal fees over the Atlantic Coast Conference doing to them", and that they "reacted [to the ACC's actions] by pillaging Conference USA.
Mr. Sheridan, the Big East did NOT do what the ACC did. The ACC courted Miami, Syracuse and Boston College (with Va. Tech eventually betraying the Big East in Syracuse's place) in the dark of the night without ever having approached Mike Tranghese in the proper and legal fashion. These schools likewise, had all along been assuring the Big East of undying loyalty and commitment, which the Big East had made to them. This was pure conspiracy by the ACC to steal teams from the Big East and quite possibly, as Tranghese has claimed, an attempt to render the Big East impotent in its recruiting and television revenue battles.
The Big East ends up losing not only 3 schools but 3 very successful and high-profile football teams, their football league reduced to 5 teams and their BCS standing in absolute jeopardy (it still is, even now).
You could hardly have expected the Big East to stand pat and watch their football ship go down, no? But the way the Big East proceeded to salvage their conference and football future was, in contrast to the ACC's approach and your depiction, entirely above board.
Tranghese held off on mentioning any schools by name for weeks after the ACC fiasco and made the Big East's desire to INVITE, that's invite, not coerce, steal or pillage, the schools from Conference USA, directly known, in honest and diplomatic fashion, to the commissioner of C-USA, asking for expressed permission to speak to the schools in question.
It's true, the loss of Louisville, Cincinnati, Depaul and Marquette have truly depleted C-USA of stature but the key here is that this was handled in no improper way.
We all knew that the ACC's actions would set the world of college athletics into a frenzy, with conferences caught in the domino effect of the need to reshuffle and realign. The question that remained was how the other conferences would handle the business at hand.
The Big East's lawsuit against the ACC has been found to have merit by the court in Connecticut and it certainly appears that Tranghese was well within his right mind to ring up legal fees, fees they apparently believe will be recovered in court.
To say that the Big East did to C-USA what was done to them seems to be a bit of a gross mischaracterization. C-USA does not appear poised to bring a similar suit against them.
I don't think that Mr. Tranghese and the Big East relished the task that stood before them but their need to acquire strong new members is not in dispute and I believe the way they went about this business, from all accounts, was beyond reproach.
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Mike and the Big Dog LLC.