Everyone agrees the moves are due to money. These things always have been. It wasn't anything personal when Boston College left the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2005; the ACC simply offered the Eagles greater financial security. Southern Methodist and Central Florida are in a similar situation at present, preparing to depart Conference USA for bigger bowl payouts and a share of a larger television contract in the Big East.
Athletic directors from all of the involved schools have stated these are business decisions, and it's about the only thing out of their mouths you should trust. The programs want to be in position to gain the greatest financial gain as possible for their institutions. That's called doing their J-O-B-S.
That's not to say they're above pettiness. No matter the excuse, the resistence of some schools to inviting geographical rivals into their conferences isn't a measured economic decision. It's an immature power play to rub it in on their neighbor.
BC and Villanova have issued joint statments to UConn and Temple, respectively: Na na na boo boo!
The Eagles put up a barrier to the Huskies joining them in the ACC, while the Wildcats put a line in the sand preventing fellow Philadelphia resident Temple from joining the Big East. Their stand: That having a geographical rival in the same conference would limit their recruiting base and hurt them competitively.
ACC neighbors Miami and Florida State, Big Ten brothers Michigan and Michigan State and Pac-12 competitors UCLA and USC might raise their eyebrows at such a statement, but we'll let that slide because New England doesn't have the same depth of talent as the upper Midwest, Florida or California.
We'll also state, without further comment, that the Eagles' roster is stacked with players from New Jersey, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania — not exactly what one would expect to be pipelines to Chestnut Hill.
The problem with BC's argument isn't a football one. Going back to the stated reason for realignment, it's about cash, and nothing fuels cashflow like a geographic rival.
Existing Big East member South Florida appears to have accepted this by ending its opposition to the inclusion of UCF in the next round of expansion. A BC-UConn clash in the ACC could develop into the biggest game of the year for both sides (especially if they continue to struggle in the ACC, as many expect). Villanova and Temple play in front of some of their biggest crowds when they play for the Mayor's Cup in the annual season opener. Put two programs within a half-day's drive and you have the makings of a cash cow, even if both teams absolutely stink. (In related news, Ole Miss and Mississippi State play Nov. 26.)
New England has never been a big-time college football region. The award for most fitting name for a Boston-area sports pub goes to The Four's, because all that really matters around here are the big four: Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots and Celtics.
Eliminating the best chance for a natural rival and annual sellout is not the way to change that, though. It's merely a way to ensure we'll be right back here in five or six years wondering if the Eagles' next move will be the one that finally prompts non-alumni to care. And it won't be.
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