One of the NCAA’s East Coast conferences was recently sacked for a huge loss, while another came up with a game-winning touchdown. The Big East Conference lost the University of Miami and Virginia Tech University, two of the biggest football powers in the nation, to the traditionally basketball-centered Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in a deal that should bring large financial gains to the two schools.
This move couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Big East, which was quickly becoming one of the most dominant conferences in the nation. The past few years, no football team had been more dominant than the Miami Hurricanes. Led by quarterback Ken Dorsey, the team went 38-2 over three seasons and came within a controversial call of winning two straight national championships. In basketball, Syracuse swept through March Madness led by savvy freshman phenom Carmelo Anthony. Come spring, the Miami baseball team was back in the College World Series. It seemed that everywhere you looked, the Big East had the biggest names playing in the biggest games.
But it looks as if the march to the top is over. Ken Dorsey graduated, Carmelo Anthony followed his hoop dreams to the NBA, and the Hurricane baseball team was knocked out of the CWS in the first round. Now, Miami and Virginia Tech are jumping ship. Things won’t change much in the basketball world, where Miami and Virginia Tech will become just two more conference speed bumps for Duke, Maryland, and North Carolina to roll over, instead of Big East powerhouses UConn and Syracuse.
But who’s left on the football side of things? Temple, West Virginia, and … Rutgers? Hardly the football stalwarts to which Big Easters are accustomed. What replacements are on the horizon to fill the gaps? The headliner is Louisville (7-6 last season and losers of the GMAC Bowl). Enough said.
This exodus from the Big East aside, college football is no stranger to controversial changes. The national title game match-up is decided by a computer, as are the other major bowls. Not only that, the names of the bowls now change every year in accordance with corporate sponsorships.
With the names of the bowls constantly changing, not to mention the yearly rotation of what will be known as the “National Title” game, do we really need schools conference hopping? The same money-hungry attitude that is plaguing pro sports is slowly starting to slither its way into the college sports world. What’s next, a school relocating to a different city because the potentially larger fan base is more profitable?
Even University of Miami President Donna Shalala has expressed some amusement over the recent changes concerning her team.
“It has been a bizarre, strange and goofy process,” Shalala recently told ESPN.com. “But it allowed us the opportunity to give ourselves some distance, so that we got a view of who we are, where we are, and where we want to be.”
The move may prove advantageous for Miami, but a crucial question still remains: Will this conference-hopping trend benefit a sports world that has a foundation built on old, bitter rivalries and tradition?