For the first time since the conference realignment carousel started spinning, I feel good. I am no longer sick from the rampant speculation and predictions of imminent demise. I am no longer bothered by the hypocrisy of the leaders of our academic institutions, the ones who insist upon study and honor for their students but reward themselves for decisions based on haste and treachery. Today, a group of leaders finally had the gall to say that the pursuit of short-term money is not a long-term strategy. Today, I am relieved, and dare I say, hopeful.
Some will argue that withdrawal from the Big East this is the beginning of the end for Georgetown, that Georgetown cannot compete on a national scale in a conference without football-playing peers. To them, the best course of action is to stay committed to a hodgepodge of schools who themselves have no commitment, to ride the coattails of seemingly endless money dedicated to football, and only football. They may be right, but if they are, Georgetown doesn't stand a chance of surviving in the long-run anyway. A conference with opposing goals cannot stand.
To me, the only course of action for Georgetown was to take control of its future. It needed to stop being a victim and start being a survivor. That is exactly what it did by grouping together with the other six Catholic schools and leaving the conference formerly known as the Big East. Make no doubt about it; there are no certainties in what will follow. There are no guarantees of instant paydays or national television contracts. It will be a grind. But that is ok; there is more stability in jointly building stability than there is in joining what someone else has already built. It is time for Georgetown and its like-minded peers to take on this challenge. It is time to be innovative, and forge a path for others to later try to replicate.
There are a number of concerns I have with some of our new brethren and a number of questions they should have of Georgetown. Everyone should have the same expectation of success on the court. Everyone should have the same notion of institutional control, regardless of what the NCAA decides to randomly enforce. There should be an expectation to keep facilities in line with national peers (hello, Georgetown). There should be guidelines on creating nationally relevant out-of-conference schedules. There should be accord on the other sports to include in the conference, and the ability for schools to compete elsewhere if a specific sport if not accommodated.
Unfortunately, lost in the madness of conference realignment is what made the Big East great to begin with. Sure, the conference had four out of the top eight TV markets when it launched as the first hoops-focused group of schools in 1979. And yes, many of the original seven teams had already achieved success on the hardwood. But what made the Big East great, what drew the attention of the nation and envy from others, was the content. More specifically, it was the quality of the content. It was the intensity of the play, the disgust on the sidelines, and the bitterness in the stands. It was the elbows on the court, cusses on the bench, and taunts by the fans. And most importantly, it was a group of unified schools with a single mission: to create the best basketball conference in the country. Somewhere along the way that mission got muddled. There is a lot of blame to place but a lack of parties willing to accept it. At this point, it doesn't matter, the lessons were learned.
Now it is time to execute on the original mission of the Big East, this time with a group of schools truly dedicated to the cause. I am confident it won't be easy, but I am excited for it to begin.
To the new members of the conference-to-be-named-later, I say Godspeed, and then burn in hell.