With all the football schools from the old Big East conference having gone through both a college football and a college basketball season, it's as clear as day that the Big East conference was completely ruined by the basketball only schools. Here is why I say that.
Big East conference was ruined by basketball only schools
- Basketball only schools getting horrific TV ratings in new Big East
For some reason known only to some not too bright FOX Sports executives (probably because they were desperate for programming), FOX Sports gave the new Big East schools a pretty big TV contract to broadcast their basketball games on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2.
Whatever the reason, the TV ratings for the new Big East schools have been abysmal. Out of the first 48 Big East games that FOX broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (including non-conference games where one team was a Big East school), a total of 41 of the games had a 0 (zero) rating.
That doesn't mean nobody was watching the games, but the number of viewers was so low they failed to register a rating. The fewest viewers for one of the games was 8,000 for a Villanova vs Towson game.
Things were not much better for the other seven games, as five of them registered a 0.1 rating, and two managed a 0.2 rating. FOX also put 14 games on FOX Sports 2, and not one of those games had over 40,000 people watching it. Eight of the games failed to even reach 8,000 viewers, and one game (Seton Hall vs Monmouth) had only 1,000 people watching it.
- New Big East did not come close to selling out Madison Square Garden for conference tournament
In the past few years, the old Big East always sold out Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament. Fans of the old Big East, like myself, loved the Big East Tournament almost as much as the NCAA Tournament.
I would sometimes take off from work to watch the weekday games with the old Big East Tournament, and the Saturday night championship game at the Garden often had the feel of a heavyweight prize-fight boxing match.
Ticket sales for the new Big East Tournament have not been good. Not one day of the tournament sold out, and the buzz in the New York City area for the tournament is just not there. Nobody cares.
The basketball only schools kept the name Big East, but the fans are not fooled. The Big East died last year when the football schools all left.
- Even in basketball, football only schools led the Big East
Of the eight football schools who left the Big East in 2013, five of them are in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Those five teams are Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati, Syracuse and Pitt.
Of the seven surviving basketball only schools in the new Big East, only one team is certain to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament. That team is Villonova. Providence might also get in, but they are a bubble team unless they win the Big East Tournament.
I detailed in Big East Catholic seven college basketball schools likely to struggle on own how much more often the football schools made the NCAA Tournament vs the basketball only schools over the past 10 years.
- Basketball only schools prevented Penn State from joining the Big East
In the late 1980s, college football powerhouse Penn State applied to be a member of the Big East. Penn State needed six votes to gain entry, but only got five as basketball only schools St. John's, Villanova, and Georgetown voted no. Penn State then joined the Big Ten in 1989.
Had Penn State joined the Big East, the conference would probably be one of the major college conferences today in both football and basketball. Thanks a bunch basketball only schools.
Dismal to zero TV ratings, the inability to even come close to selling out Madison Square Garden or generate any buzz about its season ending basketball tournament, the inability of its teams to get to the NCAA Tournament while the football only schools thrive, and the fact the basketball schools rejected Penn State all point to one thing. The basketball only schools ruined the Big East.