Hoyas enter new era with rebooted Big East

Hoyas enter new era with rebooted Big East
July 1, 2013, 1:30 pm
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This time last year, Georgetown and the rest of the "Catholic 7" schools of the old Big East, all without major football programs and being treated as add-ons by more powerful schools, appeared to be destined for a sort of constantly shifting purgatory.

It is an unsure and unpredictable place for those who are not power players, where rumblings of conference realignment could begin without notice beneath one's feet.

But that is no more. 

July 1 marks the day Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Villanova, Seton Hall, Marquette, and DePaul along with Xavier, Butler, and Creighton, officially form the rebooted Big East.

Louisville, Connecticut, South Florida, and Cincinnati remain for now in what will be called the American Athletic Conference, along with Temple and a host of former Conference USA schools.

(For more, Rob Dauster over at CollegeBasketballTalk on NBCSports.com did a great job of breaking down all of today's conference movement)

But contrasting the position in which these schools found themselves just 365 days ago with where they are now, the results are staggering. But why?

It's all about money and power.

In what was said to be a sports television market that would severely undervalue a basketball-only product, the Big East signed a 12-year, $500 million deal with Fox Sports and its soon-to-be-launched national network, Fox Sports 1. A little bit of competition gets you a lot of paid, as they say.

The new national platform gives the Big East the two things it wanted most--stability and visibility. It is no longer at the mercy of larger football-centric schools and it succeeded in adding three like-minded institutions who will add to its on-court, competitive value and not just give it strategic pins on a map.

It also takes a prime slot in FS1's portfolio as that network tries to rival established market giant ESPN and will not be pushed to the back burner by other content. 

Added to thatthere's even the underlying fact that the value of the deal could climb to $600 million if the league decides to expand to 12 members, according to the New York Times.

And that's the key. The league holds its own fate in its hands because it does not have to answer to the changing desires of football-centric schools. Just as basketball was the crown jewel of the Big East at its original inception, it will be during its rebirth.

"What’s old is new again as we return to the BIG EAST’s roots and the vision...to showcase outstanding basketball, spirited competition and passionate rivalries," said newly named commissioner Val Ackerman in a statement Monday. "Now, nearly 35 years later, the BIG EAST is poised to build on its heritage and bring a new wave of excitement."

Realignment will give rise to more than a few arranged rivalry marriages, instances where it seems someone randomly paired two schools and said, "Here, become rivals." Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech in the ACC, anyone? How about Maryland vs. Iowa in the 2014 Big Ten?

But the Big East, by and large, will be able to preserve that elusive "feel." The I-95 corridor will still be home to a rich basketball tradition, reaching out toward the West and linking Xavier, Butler, and Creighton by way of their recent run of basketball success. 

Will it take some time to adjust? Of course. Does the fate of the Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry rest on non-conference scheduling? Unfortunately, yes. But the Hoyas and the rest of the reborn Big East got everything they wanted and perhaps even more.

What a difference a year can make.