College basketball: New Big East isn’t the old Big East, but it’s still awfully good
The ‘new Big East’ formed in 2013, and at the time, it kind of just felt like a hodgepodge of basketball programs thrown together on a whim. There were the old Big East holdovers like Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s and Seton Hall, but new schools also joined the fray in Xavier, Butler and Creighton.
What would this conference’s identity be? It would take years to find out, along with some soul-searching. The tales of the old Big East are legendary – the games were so physical that often times, they resembled a different sport entirely.
That is most certainly not the Big East’s identity in 2016. But in the midst of its fourth full season, perhaps this conference doesn’t care about its reputation anymore. It just wins, and people will ultimately say what they’re going to say about them.
The disparaging “you’ve changed, bro” label frequently applied to the Big East no longer holds water. The back-handed compliment that is this article attempts to address this reality, but deliberately falls short. Comparing the physical, gritty attitude of the old Big East to the current conference actively ignores the fact that the sport itself has changed. Nostalgia for old-school, hard-nosed basketball always manifests itself as a Requiem for the Big East, at the expense of the current conference. This never-ending nut-shot happily distributed by mainstream media outlets (ESPN) is their shameless way of protecting their most profitable college investment, the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big-10, Big-12, Pac-12, & SEC). The NCAA is unprepared for a conference solely grounded in basketball to take the world by storm. Remember, the NCAA is a business that needs to keep their key benefactor, ESPN, happy. This deliberate downplaying of Big East potency is woven into the NCAA basketball narrative. The jabroni writing this particular piece exemplifies this attitude, “The Big East is notably absent from the list of Power Five conferences as we know them.” The “Power Five” refers to conferences for the sport of football. Clearly, the powers that be allow football preeminence (you may have heard, football makes money) to bleed into the world of basketball. This false narrative led all those watching Villanova topple UNC in last year’s tournament feel the same shock as watching Trump defeat Clinton. The same manner in which left-leaning media systematically assured a Clinton victory mirrors the anti-Big East rhetoric spewed by sports media leading up to the final. ESPN sold the Big East television rights to Fox Sports 1, making Big East success bad for business in Bristol. The new Big East already sports a national champion (Nova) along with four teams in the top 16 (Nova, Creighton, Xavier, & Butler) as of this week. I am firmly bullish that this basketball-centric conference will rewrite the tournament script. College basketball media sources, like politically-focused media outlets, need to dismantle the echo chamber and shake the systematic prejudice, the new Big East is here.
P.S. Classic omission of Providence when describing the power players in the Big East. I always enjoy blatant ignorance of the fact that Dave Gavitt, the former Providence head coach, spearheaded the creation of the Big East and served as its first commissioner. No one gives Providence the time of day and this will change moving forward. Ed Cooley is a fantastic, young coach who is single-handedly bringing Providence into the limelight. Recently armed with the $60 million Friar Development Center (read: basketball-only facility) and a long-term extension contract (Cooley stated the deal would keep him at Prov “for life”), the self-made Providence native is putting PC back on the map.