I don’t know about you, but when I heard the Big East Conference was set to break-up, I was devastated.
The once proud and powerful basketball conference is finally seeing itself coming to its bitter end. Powerhouses such as Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, and the University of Louisville and University of Notre Dame are set to join them the year after. It seemed, for the time being, that the nation’s premier basketball conference was no more.
That is until news broke that the seven catholic schools remaining in the conference announced they were tired of conforming to football’s agendas, and decided to break away and form their own conference, initially dubbed as the “Catholic 7.”
Soon after, the “Catholic 7” announced its plans to expand this new conference to include all of the best private schools in the Midwest, which included the likes of Butler University, Xavier University and Creighton University for a nice 10-team conference starting in 2013-14. It would even get to keep its historic “Big East” name, as well as Madison Square Garden as the home for its conference championship tournament. Although this came with a caveat, being that the University of Dayton and Saint Louis University would be “expected” to be added a season after.
Just picturing Dayton in this kind of elite basketball conference would be a major coup for the program, which would be viewed as a valuable commodity for this new conference. It would seem being included in this conference would give the impression that Dayton is “worth” being a part of this new conference, which is a big deal in terms of how the program is viewed by everyone else.
However, when you really take a step back to look at things, is it going to be worth joining the conference, just for the prestige of being in a power conference? Looking at the teams that will be in it, it’s a bit intimidating.
With the likes of Georgetown University, the University of Marquette, Villanova University, St. John’s University, Creighton, and current Atlantic 10 Conference foes Butler, St. Louis and of course Xavier, this would easily be the best, most consistent talent that Dayton would have to face, possibly in its history.
One question though has to be asked: Is being a part of this shiny new conference worth possibly consistently finishing in the bottom four of the conference every year? Dayton fans are seeing how it feels to be a bottom feeder this season, and most every fan would agree it is not fun. The current A-10 isn’t even half of what the new league will be in terms of talent. It would be like playing the best team in the A-10 every week, not just for one game.
When looking at the most comparable teams to UD in the new conference, DePaul University, Seton Hall Univeristy and Providence, it does not paint a pretty picture. While all three have rich basketball traditions, just like UD, in the Big East they have wasted away. All three schools have failed to reach the NCAA tournament since 2006, and haven’t had any real success since the 90s. With Dayton having a spotty tournament record a member of the A-10, what makes you think it would fair any better in an elite conference?
I recognize there is much more at play on this conference realignment plan than just the caliber of teams. Money is obviously the driving force, and nothing will get in the way as long as big bucks are in play. But when it comes down to the games being played on the court, it is wise to look at this potential move with some skepticism.
While it would be nice to be included in the next big thing in college basketball, it might just stunt the growth of the program in the long run. Being the punching bag to big time programs will get old, fast. If Dayton cannot even dominate the A-10 on a regular basis, maybe that should be a sign it’s not ready for the big leagues.
Perhaps a move to the Horizon League would be a better fit.