Should Syracuse join Pittsburgh is attempting to sue its way out of the Big East? The conference realignment carousel never stops turning as in the past 72 hours Florida State has internally battled over leaving the ACC. Pitt filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pa., on Friday, asking to be free to leave next summer. But now there are rumblings with new leadership atop the Big East, the conference might force SU and Pittsburgh to hang on for two more lame duck seasons.
On top of Pitt’s lawsuit, Boise State has also been rumored to be discussing not jumping to the Big East and instead joining a Mountain West mega-conference. The Panthers and Orange have solid enough arguments: their presence is unnecessary because of the parade of brand new schools flooding the conference (SMU, Houston, UCF, Memphis, Navy, and Temple are all coming). The league also tipped its hand when in March “The Electrician” John Marinatto said:
“Our membership, given the speed and success of our expansion initiatives, I think it’s open to having the discussions with both Pittsburgh and Syracuse about them having an early departure. So we haven’t actually had those conversations yet, but our membership is certainly willing to do that at this point given where we’ve landed.”
But now the Big East is changing its tune, maybe only to force a higher price tag on actually leaving. Syracuse has $17 million dollars per year waiting at the other end of the rainbow, and two more seasons of being uncomfortable enemies of the conference makes little sense. The question is how much would litigation cost? Gross has not completely shut off the possibility of joining the lawsuit.
“We’ve been trying to resolve the issue of conference transition with the Big East. We’d like to avoid litigation, but we’re keeping all of our options open.”
West Virginia sued to leave this summer. Pitt and Syracuse had assumed they would skip out next summer, but litigation seems to be an uneasy final destination. Wrangling in the courts is just a dog-and-pony show, however. It didn’t stop WVU from bolting when it wanted to, and it won’t stop Pittsburgh either. With Boise State turning into another TCU before our eyes, Syracuse should want out ASAP as well. The Broncos have until June 30th to make its decision. If Boise State decides to bail, then the Big East might try to hold onto SU and Pitt until ’14 even tighter.
Of course, interim commissioner Joe Bailey has shown the same delusion as his predecessor. His knowledge of the Broncos’ intentions sounds like he’s whistling past the graveyard – which is exactly what the Big East is right now, a burial ground of everything the conference once was.
“Well, my sense is that unless you hear differently, I think that there’s full commitment from their standpoint”
In other words Syracuse: get out now. Bailey hasn’t offered much information on whether he’s open to Syracuse and Pittsburgh fleeing a year from now, but Pitt’s lawsuit speaks volumes. But Bailey and the Big East have no intention to stay together long term. While Syracuse has played its departure diplomatically, it may be time to ruffle some feathers. The Orange should think about joining Pitt’s battle to leave next year, because there’s simply no reason to be stuck in this clusterfork for two more seasons.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald