It's been a rough nine months for the Connecticut athletic department
Granted, nothing is official yet. There's still lots of stuff to finalize. But let's go ahead and chalk Thursday up as a great day for Butler University because it's now basically confirmed that the Bulldogs will go from being a nice but mostly nationally irrelevant Horizon League school in 2010 to a member of a conference that'll be called the Big East in 2013.
How wild is that?
So congrats to Brad Stevens.
He'll never take credit but he deserves credit.
There's no way Butler would've ever been in a position to make this move without those magical March Madness runs Stevens orchestrated in 2010 and 2011. He's already done more for Butler than most coaches do for most schools in a lifetime, and he's only 36. So count this Indianapolis-based university as a massive realignment winner.
The massive loser?
That's clearly Connecticut, isn't it?
Yes, I know Memphis fans are disappointed they'll never play in a league with Georgetown, Villanova and St. John's, and that stinks. But Memphis will still be in a league with Cincinnati, Temple and Connecticut, and that's better than the embarrassingly bad version of Conference USA the Tigers have mostly dominated since 2006. Bottom line, Memphis might not be as big of a winner as it thought when it announced a move to the Big East last year, but Memphis is still undeniably upgrading leagues.
UConn, not so much.
What Baylor went through in 2003 and what Penn State went through in 2011-2012 was bad, but those tough times were brought about by criminals committing crimes. UConn's downward spiral, on the other hand, is completely related to college athletics, and it's all transpired in a span of nine months.
Here's the timeline:
- 6/20/12: NCAA announces UConn is banned from the 2013 NCAA tournament.
- 9/12/12: Notre Dame announces it is leaving the Big East for the ACC.
- 9/13/12: Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun announces he's retiring.
- 11/20/12: Rutgers announces it is leaving the Big East for the Big Ten.
- 11/28/12: Louisville announces it is leaving the Big East for the ACC.
- 12/15/12: Catholic 7 announce they're splitting away to form a new league.
- 2/28/13: Reports surface that the Catholic 7 will take the Big East name with them.
So in a span of nine months UConn has A) lost the right to participate in the 2013 NCAA tournament, B) lost its iconic men's basketball coach, C) lost every other remaining original Big East member ... plus Villanova, Rutgers, Notre Dame and Louisville, and D) lost the Big East name. That's an insane and unfortunate turn of events, and it's reasonable to wonder if the athletic department will ever recover and find itself in a spot as nice as the spot it enjoyed for more than three decades. But that's another conversation for another day. For now, UConn would just be happy to know what its new league will actually be called because all we know at this point is that it won't be called the Big East.
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