Break Up In the Big East Could Have Trickle Down Effect On CAA
The University of Delaware men’s basketball team was beaten soundly by Villanova on Sunday afternoon. As much as it hurt the Hens to fall to 3-8 on the season, another news article centered around UD’s football rivals from the Main Line, may have an even more significant long-term impact on Delaware’s athletic programs.
The Wildcats, along with six other basketball-centric members of the Big East, voted to leave the conference and form their own all-sports league beginning during the 2015-16 season. Besides it leading to the death of a conference that provided East Coast hoops fans a ton of meaningful memories over the years, the move is likely to have a trickle-down effect felt by the Atlantic 10, the Missouri Valley Conference and the CAA.
Play out the future possibilities with me for a second.
Right now, the former Big East schools (Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and Depaul) are in the earliest stages of planning what their new league will look like. One thing is certain though; More teams are going to have to be added.
Likely candidates include; Butler, Xavier and Dayton of the Atlantic 10 and possibly Creighton of the MVC. While none of those are CAA members, it is important to remember that conference realignment is like one seemingly never-ending game of dominoes. One move creates another, which leads to another shift etcetera, etcetera.
So if the Atlantic 10 gets raided, one of the first places it would turn to restock its shelves would be the CAA. After all, it was not all that long ago that George Mason all but publicly begged for an invitation to the league. Would the departure of a couple members open up a spot for the Patriots? The smart money says yes.
There is also an outside chance that the Atlantic 10 would look to schools like Drexel, Northeastern or Hofstra because of their television markets. The league would not mind a greater presence in Philadelphia, New York or Boston.
Making matters even more treacherous for the CAA, are the questions surrounding the remaining football schools of the Big East. Does this latest move cause Boise State and San Diego State to abandon their plans to join the Big East? If so, would the league replace them by continuing to poach Conference USA?
That would be important, because if Conference USA needs further reinforcements, wouldn’t James Madison be a good candidate?
Commissioner Tom Yeager and his staff have done a magnificent job replenishing the ranks every step of the way through the attrition of realignment, but at some point the conference is going to run out of perfect replacements, and is going to suffer as the dominoes continue to fall.
The demise of the Big East is sad because of what that league meant to college athletics over the last three decades. It could also bring melancholy to the CAA in a completely different way. Unfortunately that’s what college sports are about these days. One league’s good news, is disaster for another conference.
No one knows what the future holds in store, but there’s a good chance it is going to impact the CAA. That’s why Delaware’s loss on Sunday, as frustrating as it was for Hens’ fans to swallow, was not the most important piece of news connecting Nova and Delaware over the weekend.