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Ditch Boise State; add UCF, Notre Dame, others to Big East

By Wes Goldberg
On December 3, 2011

The Big East is doing it wrong.

Rather than expanding westward, the conference should be focusing on reestablishing its brand and creating rivalries that can thrive.

It needs to ditch the idea of adding Boise State and a Big East West division.

Instead, add Temple, Villanova, Memphis, Houston, SMU and UCF for all sports, and persuade Notre Dame to give up its football independence.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto has an opportunity to revamp the Big East brand.

The Big East basketball brand is big-market competition in the Northeast.

Marinatto needs to deliver that brand to football rather than adding football-only schools and creating two seemingly different conferences for football and basketball.

A university that competes in all sports and creates rivalries is more valuable than even Boise State, which would compete in just football.

Temple and Villanova, both located in Philadelphia, add a solid rivalry that transcends all sports.

They compete in football annually for the Mayor's Cup, and both have strong basketball programs. It would also strengthen the conference's presence in the Northeast.

Next, listen to Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino and add Memphis.

Memphis adds a natural border-war rivalry with Louisville. Both teams are basketball powers whose jostling on the court will swing to the field.

Yes, Memphis and Villanova are very weak football programs, but the SEC still has Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The ACC has Duke and Wake Forest. The rivalries and markets are what are important.

Houston and SMU add another natural rivalry.

UCF and USF is an explosive rivalry. These teams could play the annual "War on I-4" game at the Citrus Bowl, similar to how Florida-Georgia is played on neutral field in Jacksonville.

But the true savior, the one with the Jesus statue, is Notre Dame.

A lot of people believe that Notre Dame has no interest in joining the Big East and if it were to give up its independent status in football, it would be for the Big Ten.

I believe that Notre Dame values its membership with Big East basketball much more than it lets off.

Notre Dame understands that competing with other Catholic schools in the Big East, such as Providence and St. Johns, is valuable to its own brand.

In order to persuade Notre Dame to join, Marinatto needs to give them the one thing that no other school in the country has – full television rights over its own home games.

That is what BYU wanted, and the Big East did not want to give up those rights. BYU is not that valuable, but Notre Dame is.

You think Notre Dame wouldn't love to say that it's the only program in the country that is in a conference and still retains the television rights to its home games?

The Fighting Irish would eat that up like it was the last supper.

Adding these schools would create a 12-team conference that can be split into Southern and Northern divisions.

To really buy into the big market, it could host the championship game at Yankee Stadium in New York.

If Marinatto were to follow this model, it would revamp the Big East brand and give the conference a solid foundation to thrive in the future.

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