Pitino took to the keyboard yesterday to expound his thoughts on the conference situation. Or as he put it: "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth". The words just rolled off his tongue, almost as if he had participated in a trial recently.
The gist of his piece was simple. That the Big East can and should be saved, and that Louisville will play a major role in ensuring that. He reminded that geography actually is a factor, because all the other non-revenue sports travel without the luxury of private planes. He recommended that the Big East add Navy, Army, Air Force and Temple, and sit down with a conversation with Villanova about getting serious about their football program.
Look, it's easy to paint Rick Pitino as being disengenuous with this piece (I for one, don't really understand his geographic argument, last time I checked Louisville isn't exactly on the eastern seaboard either). And everyone immediately jumped to the conclusion that Pitino is fretting over losing sidetrips to his favorite destinations, New York City and Providence. Donning a cowboy hat for a mid-winter trip to Waco, Texas just wouldn't have the same appeal.
But as I said before, I think he's right in that the best long-term strategy for Louisville is to remain in the reformed Big East as one of the driving teams and voices, while selectively adding the best mid-major football programs out there.
Pitino proposed 5 teams; the three service academies, Temple and Villanova. I'll give him 2 out of 5. I agree with him about Temple, an excellent Philadelphia university with strong academics, a rich basketball tradition and a up and coming football program (who trounced Maryland 38-7 last Saturday). Automatic Mr. Red nod of approval. No question.
I've also come around on Navy, who's commitment to football is longstanding and admiralble (eh? eh? get it? oh go to hell). The other service academies, not so much. Like one host said on the Morning Sports Buzz today, playing against that much option football every year would make me want to blow my brains out.
But ultimately I agree with Rick. Save the Big East. Fill the leadership position Syracuse and Pitt abdicated. Let Tom Jurich do what he does best, and prime himself for a role of BE commissioner many seem to think is his next step.
You don't have to panic. This too shall pass. Don't just add Air Force and Army cause you feel the need to immediately be "proactive" (for one, you can always hold Syracuse and Pitt to the full 24 months of the charter the signed before they flee. Why not? If it serves the Big East's interests, hold those Benedict Arnolds around and torture them for two years). Use that time to be smart and strategic. Houston and Iowa State would be infinitely better choices than Army and Air Force.
It's important to remember just how much we didn't lose when Syracuse and Pitt left. Big names, sure, but disappointing football schools year after year. There are so many better programs out there to fill those spots. If you keep your wits about you and don't do anything rash, the Big East can come out of this stronger than it was before. Better fine dining, too.
Full blog entry here.
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About the Bloggers
Mr. Red is also known as Timothy Johnstone. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
Mr. Black is also known as Christopher Cunningham. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.
CliffySmalls is also known as Cliff Elliott. He is a graduate of the University of Louisville.