Editor’s Note: The following is a re-post from a while back. We’ll be posting a couple of these every weekend as a way of letting a new audience see some great posts they might have missed.
The Memphis hiring of former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese this week acted as a catalyst for the biggest conference realignment in the history of collegiate athletics. Tranghese was hired by Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson in an attempt to get their foot in the door of one of the major conferences.
“[Tranghese's] role is to help us and advise us,” Johnson said. “He asked me: ‘What’s my charge?’ I said, ‘There are six BCS conferences. Just get us in one.’”
After Memphis’ hiring of Tranghese, it was only a matter of minutes before Johnson got a phone call from current Big East commissioner John Marinatto.
“I thought that Mike Tranghese pulled a couple of strings to get us an invite so quickly,” said Johnson,”but it turns out the Big East is actually in the middle of a massive expansion project.”
Upon further investigation, I discovered that Commissioner Marinatto has developed an addiction to getting as many teams as possible from the Big East into the NCAA tournament.
“It’s the first thing I think about before falling asleep at night, and it’s the the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning” said Marinatto. “Being the best basketball conference is pretty cut and dry — you have to get the most teams into the tournament. It’s that simple.”
When asked what other teams he had considered for invites, Marinatto retorted with an unexpected three word phrase. “All of them.”
Before my jaw could hit the floor, Marinatto elaborated. “We’re looking to add every team currently in Division I — including teams that are currently in other major conferences. If everything goes according to plan, the Big East will be a 344 team conference in 2010.
When I probed him about the possibility of diluting the conference with below average teams, Marinatto butted in before I could even finish the question. “In the Big East, we accept nothing less than excellence. It’s simple math — more teams in the conference equals more teams in the dance. That’s what we’re about here… being the best.”
In 2009, the Big East got 7 out of its 16 teams — roughly 44% of the conference. If the Big East actually admitted the entire NCAA, the best it could hope to do is roughly 19% of the conference in the tournament. “You’re looking at this all wrong,” Marinatto said. “If we got 65 teams into the 2010 tournament, that’s nearly 10 times the amount we had in 2009. We’d be 10 times better than the 2009 version of the conference. If we were the best conference in 2009, and we improve ourselves 10 fold, how could any of the other conferences hope to compete?”
“There wouldn’t be any other conferences,” I responded. “You’d be the best by default.”
“That’s capitalism, bitch.”