Starting as early as next season, the 34-year-old Big East will undergo some drastic changes that will give the conference a brand new look.
The “Catholic Seven”, as they have become known as, consists of Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul, St. John’s, Georgetown, Providence and Marquette. These teams will remain in the conference and will withhold the name of the “Big East”.
According to CBS Sports, the Big East had already suffered hits when Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Rutgers departed, and the uncertainty of Cincinnati and Connecticut wasn’t helping, either.
With the exception of Rutgers, these teams will be joining the loaded Atlantic Coast Conference which will become an even more competitive conference as it is inheriting essentially the elite basketball programs in the Big East. Rutgers will join Maryland in the move to the Big Ten conference.
These schools were high-major recruiting universities, due in part to their prestigious football programs, and brought in a lot of recruits to the Big East, along with students and fans that would like to be a part of arguably the toughest conference in the country. But because of their departure, the Catholic Seven decided that it was time for them to break off and form their own conference, one that was not football driven.
“They are small private schools, and they wanted to go back to their roots which is playing basketball,” said Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco in an interview. “They felt that they had been buffetted by wins and it had nothing to do with them because it was a purely football driven conference.”
However the Catholic Seven will not stand alone in the conference as Xavier, Creighton and Butler have joined the conference. While Georgetown and Marquette are the only consistent NCAA tournament contenders in the Catholic Seven, they now have these three added schools, who are also consistent contenders, to compete with.
According to BleacherReport, “This is a deep conference that will be populated with NCAA tournament-quality teams, but the consistent Final Four threats are few and far between.”
The addition of these schools will certainly inflate recruitment in the new Big East Conference, but will not compare to the competition that it used to have.
“The thought of having school pride rooting against the hardwood juggernauts of the east coast was a real pull factor when I made my decision to come to Seton Hall,” senior Paul Soranno said. “Now that the prospect of playing such big teams has diminished, so have my senses of pride in my school and excitement towards the already subpar athletics this school provides.”
Other students like junior Denzel Johnson are upset about the level of excitement the new Big East lacks in regards to going to basketball games. “There would always be the thrill factor when we beat teams like Louisville or Syracuse at home, and I’m just going to miss that in my final year here,” Johnson said.
Seton Hall and their students should not see this conference change as a nightmare for recruiting just yet, as they were more fortunate than Cincinnati and Connecticut, Big East departures who were rejected from the ACC and stuck in the less competitive American Conference.
More or less, the upcoming season of sports will be an entertaining year of rising rivalries and bitter beginnings for the newcomers in each conference.
As of 2014, the new Big East Conference will consist of:
- Seton Hall
- St. John’s
Photo Credit: charmildavis