Friday, October 7, 2011

The Big East: A tragically sad ending

I want to start this out by saying that you guys know I don't follow sports like I used to. Pro sports are pretty much out altogether for me and I've distanced myself from the college game too. What I'm about to lay down comes from my heart and a piece of my heart is given to Louisville Cardinal athletics, even if I'm not a hard core fan any longer. I've been asked about twenty times in the last couple of weeks what I thought about Louisville's situation and the Big East. I'd rather address how I feel about the Big East coming undone than talk about Louisville. The Cardinals are not in a great position right now. The fate of the schools sports programs hangs in the balance. I don't think things will ever be the same. 

So, here are my thoughts on the Big East athletic conference being torn apart;

This has probably been said a couple of thousand times, but what a shame it is to see this conference crumble from the inside. It's always been a really good, bordering on great, conference, so I don't mean just since UL came on board. This is one of the final nails in the coffin for college athletics as we know it, in my opinion.  Everything is about getting bigger to grab more revenue. I guess that's OK, but what about the college game? What about rivalries? What about the ability of the fans to travel to far away schools to attend games? Shouldn't that sort of thing matter in college athletics. We hear all sorts of talking heads, coaches, and league officials carry on about the integrity of college athletics, but rarely will they display that or loyalty when it comes to the almighty dollar. And we expect the players to show class, integrity and loyalty? Ha! Absurd. Get all you can get kids, because they are making their bones off your backs. 

Imagine if the SEC started breaking up in football. I think it would be awful if Alabama and Florida, pulled out of the SEC. What if Duke and North Carolina State left the ACC? Tradition is supposed to mean something in college athletics, isn't it? Pitt and Syracuse are Big East schools. It's their identity and their identities were built in a tough, exciting Big East conference that has seen greatness and actually was still going strong. The Big East was not unraveling. It was plundered and those who were plucked, rolled over with greenbacks dancing in their heads. And they did so, without a hint to anyone. Shady people, make shady deals.  

Since Louisville has been in the Big East, I have felt like it was a privilege as a fan to get to be a part of watching college history.   Now, we are on a path of super conferences that have no allegiance from one school to the next, nor is their any regard for geography, or their fans.  These conferences are going to generate a great amount of money from new TV deals and the mid-level conferences are going to suffer for respect and attention even more than they do now. 

I'll liken this to the take over of our culture by huge, multi-national corporations. Just swallow up the competition and leave just a few big entities to eat the whole fucking pie. The mom and pop stores are dying and so are the traditions and structure of college athletics as we remember it.  It'll be OK, I'm sure. Louisville may well get into the Big 12, which is a fine conference. But the Big East was something special and only in the last couple of years, did I feel like Louisville had finally arrived and was a true part of Big East tradition. Now, it seems as though the Big East will be either a glorified mid-level C-USA type of league, or it will crumble, leaving the football schools scrambling for a new home and a way to take on a new identity. 

I say shame on the school presidents and league leadership that goes out and plunders and make decisions behind closed doors, that will cheapen the college game. Let's just call it what it is. Professional sports. If the schools are not going to retain loyalty to tradition, why should anyone else? Let's just call it a spade America, we are right smack in the middle of the "bad ol' days". Nothing is sacred in the face of getting a larger piece of a finite pie.

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