Plenty to talk about as everyone writes the Big East obituary following the basketball schools defection. I've got reaction from Mick, talked to SK about the Big East tournament at MSG and insight into Saturday's game against Marshall. Also, the mass assistant exodus continues as players are left to wonder who exactly will be coaching them in the Belk Bowl. Both OC Mike Bajakian and DC John Jancek left for Tennessee along with a cast of other assistants.
Moral of that story: All the coaches leaving has gone a long way to bringing the players together. Feels like we are only a few more defections from Brendon Kay doing his best James Van Der Beek impression and running the Oop-te-Oop out there Varsity Blues style.
Remember when 5-WRs was considered a gimmick offense? Oh, 1999, you are so cute.
But I will get to the football situation with much more later.
Not going to waste any more time, though, let's eat ...
--- The seven Catholic basketball schools (Providence, St. John's, DePaul, Marquette, Villanova, Georgetown, Seton Hall) decided they are branching off and forming a new hoops league. They don't own the power to dissolve the Big East, so that will not happen. However, who owns the rights to the Big East name and tournament is yet to be seen as there's about to be a lot of lawyering going on.
For now, here are all the details on the move as reported by ESPN.com, who was leading the way on this from the beginning.
As Dana O'Neil writes, the seven basketball schools never made sense in this new arrangement. Pat Forde rails on the same topic. Mike DeCourcy talks about his view of the winners and losers in this.
Yes, the Big East destruction will go down as the grand victim of realignment, as Andy Katz writes. Of the 16 teams in the conference two years ago, only UC, USF and UConn remain. Jeff Jacobs of Hartford Courant is passing around blame.
Most importantly, what does this mean for UC basketball? Mick Cronin didn't appear worried about it. Nor should he be. Nobody likes what occurred yesterday with the Catholic 7, but this wasn't out of left field. There will be more fallout to realignment coming. When it does, UC sits in a great position. None of these wholesale changes to basketball will be coming until at least next year, likely longer since there is a 27-month agreement that needs to be worked through.
"If I would send any message to our fans, stay positive," Mick Cronin said. "We have an elite basketball program. We always have. We might have had some blips on the radar over the last 50 years, but we got national championships, Final Fours, National Player of the Years, former coaches that are legends. Our program speaks for itself. We always are going to be in a great conference, it may just be a matter of when or maybe a matter of the Big East. I can tell our fans this, it's not something I lose sleep over. In who we are and what we bring to the table and also the leadership of our university."
Cronin specified he doesn't lose sleep because of the leadership at UC. AD Whit Babcock and President Santa Ono have been in front of everything and he trusts they've got control of the situation.
"We have an elite basketball program. We have a football program that has been winning enough to attract a guy like Tommy Tuberville. That's why the direction of our athletic department is not something I worry about. It's all positive. It's got to work itself out and everybody's got to keep the faith as that happens."
--- Also, in regards to basketball, let's take a look at exactly what is being lost. Two great opponents in Georgetown and Marquette, yes. But also five bottom-feeders of the conference. What have St. John's, Seton Hall, Villanova, DePaul and Providence won the last two years? Nothing. They can't be counted on to make the tournament and own zero NCAA tournament victories.
As for what is left of the Bearcats home (for now, at least), Having UConn, Memphis, Temple and UC serves as a solid top portion of the conference and we'll see what happens from there.
President Ono tweeted yesterday for everyone to stay calm and believe. I know everyone wants to freak out, but I tend to trust him and trust the one rule of realignment, if you don't like it, wait a minute. The winds of change are still blowing, folks.
--- What makes me saddest in all this is what will become of the Big East tournament, even if the Catholic 7 or the new Big East run it, the event will never be the same. MSG and the Big East tournament served as the premier event in the sport outside The Dance forever. I grew up on those games and loved everything about the tournament there. When UC was able to be a part of it, the UC base further understood what it means.
For Cronin, who recruits the heck out of the NY/NJ area, he sells the Big East and the tournament at MSG. Now, Mick pointed out to me 90 percent of what he sells is being happy and loving Cincinnati, you have to. And he recruited plenty of great players here when it was Conference USA. Remember Kenny Satterfield? Remember Steve Logan? Remember Kenyon Martin?
That said, selling MSG to a kid from New York was special. I find the bastardization of whatever that even will become to be one of the saddest victims of all this.
Talked with Sean Kilpatrick a little bit about it.
"The Garden, it's just amazing," he said. "I remember Deonta Vaughn's sophomore year, I remember at home watching him watching the Big East tournament and he was going crazy hitting 3 after 3. That was the first time I really glimpsed at Cincinnati, like, that's a good team. In order for us to go there and play at The Garden and do crazy things there is huge.
"East Coast kid like me Shaq (Thomas) and Jermaine (Sanders), that's something we've always wanted to do. With Shaq and me we never had a chance to actually do that besides like All-Star games. Now that we have a chance to play there on a regular basis is crazy."
--- Want to take a look at Saturday's game against Marshall. The game is technically a Marshall home game on their season ticket plan. It will be played in Charleston and not Hungtington, though.
Cronin was urging UC fans to make the short trip for the 2 p.m. game Saturday. It's about a 3-hour drive or so taking 32 east to 35 south to 64. (thanks to Twitter follower KRalst07 for the tip).
As for the game, must have been odd watching the game film of last year's loss to Marshall because this Bearcats team is so dramatically different. The biggest observation that stuck out would be the rebounding in that game. The Herd dominated the boards. it's been a point of emphasis in practice this week and while Cronin never expects this team to lead the country in rebounding -- they'll always be a group trying to offset rebounding disadvantage with turnover margin -- they do need to be effective enough to stay even.
They currently rank 13th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and 88th in offensive rebounding percentage defense. Most of those numbers are skewed from dominating the cupcakes. In the eyes of Cronin they need to improve on the boards against the more physical teams. With a front line that runs 6-8 almost the whole way across, it will be imperative Saturday.
"It's nothing we haven't seen yet," Kilpatrick said. "It's something we've been playing against all year because we are one of the small teams. If you just go there and box out and capitalize in the half-court offense and just run, you will be all right."
--- The biggest advantage for UC will be Marshall PG DeAndre Kane missing the game with a hand injury. He came in averaging 15.3 points and 8.5 assists per game. He was their QB. And a great one. Takes much of the punch out of their offense.
--- Luke Winn placed UC 12th in his power rankings column this week. He also mentioned Kenyon Martin's leg injury, whcih is a major point deduction for Winn.
--- Originally, this was set to be the game that could force Ono to come good on his bet to shave his head if the Bearcats won 10 in a row. As I discussed on the Inside the Bearcats Podcast this week with Tommys G&T, Mick is allowing Ono an out and maybe coming up with a more difficult accomplishment to set the clippers in motion.
--- Some randomness ...
--- All you can ever ask for when two mascots meet at midcourt is a real rumble. Best case scenario at this high school game.
--- Need some inspiration? Watch the highlight video of Zach Hodgkins, who has one hand but is killing it as a HS basketball player.
--- Gangnam Style is literally killing people. Like I've been saying all along, we need to put this to an end.
--- Do you know the only Christmas song to hit No. 1 on the pop charts?
--- If you can't laugh at all this what have you got? Sports Pickle with a funny Big East take.
--- Feels like a day we may need an energy lift and what better for that than BOB.