Thursday, December 17, 2009

Big Ten Basketball Ramifications

Yesterday, I discussed my reasoning for Pitt to NOT join the Big Ten. My rambling focused mostly on the football side of things, so I'd like to weigh in on the basketball side.

Basketball coach Jamie Dixon let his thoughts be known:
"I can't see how any team would improve where they're at by movement," Dixon said.

"To me, every situation you have to look at why you're doing it — to improve yourself — and I can't see how moving from the best conference in college basketball history would be a good thing for anybody.
Of course Dixon didn't get it ALL right:
"I know football and all the other sports factor in, as well, but that has to be of utmost consideration. We've got bowl tie-ins greater than any other conference, as far as percentages. What do we have to change for, any team in our conference? This thing just keeps getting better.
Seriously, did you have to say THAT? Percentages maybe, but the league bowl tie-ins are 'ghastly' as Simon Cowell would put it. The Big Ten bowl lineup would be one of the better things to happen to Pitt if they joined the conference.

Anyway. Dixon had more than just a passing comment about it, too.

Basketball is another reason why I think Pitt should stay put. On top of the reasons I outlined yesterday, Dixon got part of it right. Pitt is in the best basketball league in college basketball. And no, this isn't a contradiction over what I said yesterday. It doesn't matter that Pitt is in a tough basketball conference because there's actually a playoff system in college basketball. Losing one or even a handful of games doesn't throw you out of the championship picture as it can in football. It is to their benefit to be in the Big East for basketball for recruiting, image, etc. Yes, you can say the same about football, but as I pointed out, Pitt would have a much harder time trying to compete for a championship in the Big Ten for football.

Another thing - I've seen/heard a lot of comments saying that Pitt has to go to the Big Ten because if they don't, Rutgers or Syracuse will. I'm sorry, but when exactly did Rutgers or Syracuse football ever become a national football power? Losing Rutgers or Syracuse would be a loss as they're in a major market, but really, how would that significantly affect the Big East? The conference would still have one or the other along with St. John's and Seton Hall basketball in that market. Yes, losing Syracuse basketball would be a significant loss from a competitive standpoint, but with UCONN, Pitt, Georgetown, Louisville, Nova, and others, the Big East would still be considered as one of the best, if not the best, basketball conference in the country.

Losing either of those two schools won't threaten the Big East's automatic BCS birth the way the ACC defections nearly did. Pitt will replace one of those teams with a school that might not fit quite as well, but will be adequate.

Let me be clear about one thing, however. If Pitt is invited to the Big Ten, I think they WILL go. Money speaks louder than even competing for championships and there would certainly be more money for Pitt in the Big Ten. All I'm saying is that from a COMPETITIVE standpoint, Pitt would be making a mistake in my opinion.


  1. Wow I really hope they dont go. Money is the only thing to gain...and I dont even know what would make the money that much better in the Big 10??

  2. Off the top of my head, I think much of the money would come from The Big Ten Network and a Conference Championship game (though I'm not sure how much). Possibly bowl game revenues as well, which may be higher in the Big Ten.

    But I'm with you - I'd stay put.

  3. I would go and not look back, the Big East is viewed as a basketball conference nationally.

    Football is big business, if Pitt would have finished 3rd in the Big 10 where would they have went bowling?

    The car care bowl? or would it be a Jan 1st date?

    The Big East in football has a BCS berth but nationally it is viewed as a second rate conference.

    Look at the bowl affiliations they have, the Gator Bowl has an opt out with ND, frankly the deals the Big East has with bowls suck.

    After Florida trounces Cincy to the tune of 62 to 35 the Big East champions will be viewed as outclassed by a far superior SEC runner up.

    Football is the revenue generator, tie into a strong conference and watch attendance skyrocket a Heinz, thats just my take.

    Merry Christmas to all......

  4. I completely agree with the bowl argument. The Big East has terrible bowl tie-ins, and as if it wasn't possible, it's even worse next year with the loss of the Gator Bowl.

    This would be one huge plus to jumping ship, I just don't know if it's enough. It would be nice to finish 2nd or 3rd in the Big Ten and secure a better bowl, but Pitt would have its hands full with the likes of PSU, OSU, and Michigan if they ever get their act together. Pitt can beat those teams, but I don't know if they'd ever have a year where they could go undefeated in the Big least not in the forseeable future. Plus, basketball would take a hit.

    If they get the chance, I think Pitt would bite, though. The money and allure of better competition in football might be too great to turn down. And the point about Heinz Field being sold out for many games is a great point. Attendance would surely go up, meaning ticket prices would go up. All in all, a lot more money for Pitt.

  5. Lee,

    I'm not sure if basketball would take a hit, The Big 10 does carry a ton of clout nationally and recruits nationally, Pitt basketball is pretty much established on the east coast and I really don't see that ever going away as long as Dixon is around.

    I actually think that The Big 10 would open up some more opportunities for Pitt in basketball in the midwest.

    The Big East does have clout in basketball but it is not a true football/basketball conference because of the basketball only schools.

    One other item, the Big East should dump Notre Dame either join us completely or out!

  6. Yes, the Big East needs to dump Notre Dame. They add very little to nothing basketball-wise and the bowl tie-in isn't valuable enough to keep them around.

    I definitely think there would be a hit basketball-wise by going to the Big Ten. The Big Ten can recruit well, but they have no major markets and Pitt would lose a wealth of exposure nationwide - Big Ten network notwithstanding. While they would gain more coverage in the midwest, they lose Chicago, DC, New York, New Jersey, and Philly. Not exactly a good trade.

    Plus, the level of competition would go down. Drastically. Pitt would lose marquee matchups against teams like UCONN, Georgetown, Louisville, and Villanova and have to build new rivals from scratch.

    Pitt is established in the east now and even a move to the Big Ten wouldn't change that right away. But ten years later, Pitt would be much less relevant in the east after the affiliation with the Big Ten.

    There are benefits to joining the Big Ten, but I think they;re mostly on the football side.

  7. I hate all of this Big 10 talk period. I view it as a lose/lose situation for Pitt. If they are offered they almost have to go, because if they say no probably Syracuse goes instead and the Big East is f-ed. If they go, there is somewhat of a football upside, but definitely a downer for hoops.

    The solution here is bigger than Pitt itself. The Big East needs to play hardball RIGHT NOW with Notre Dame - they're either all in or all out. If we lose their hoops be it. No big loss there. If the Big East adds ND in football, then no one leaves. Add in another school (East Carolina perhaps) and all of sudden the Big East is not too shabby.

  8. If Pitt is offered, I believe they will go. However, I still don't understand why the Big East is ruined if it loses either Syracuse or Rutgers. Losing Syracuse's basketball program would be somewhat of a hit, but losing either in football would not be a significant loss in my opinion. At least not as signifcant for them to lose their automatic BCS bid. Whether that's in jeopardy or not already is another issue entirely. But if Syracuse or Rutgers jumps ship, I would think the Big East could still survive.

    And Big Ten or not, the Big East needs to get rid of Notre Dame. The bowl tie-ins are not nearly as significant as they should be and ND basketball is certainly nothing the Big East should lose any sleep over.