|Whereas the Irish were set to string out a few more seasons in the Big East, now might that not be the case? (US Presswire)|
As college presidents and powers-that-be in the Big East coerce each other into dismantling what was once the best basketball conference in the sport, another question arises that needs to be answered fairly quickly.
Will Notre Dame and Louisville no longer have to play out their timelines in the Big East? Originally -- and still now, as of this post -- the ACC is set to inaugurate only Syracuse and Pitt into the league next season. But the Fighting Irish and Cardinals still had a few years left, their contracts with the Big East still to be determined.
Needless to say, Thursday's news has changed everything. Notre Dame and Louisville might be able to -- or be forced to -- pack up and hop leagues with Syracuse and Pitt, and, if that happened, the ACC would be at 16 teams for the 2013-14 season. (Maryland is leaving the ACC in July 2014 for the Big Ten.)
During a teleconference Thursday morning, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey cautiously discussed the climate surrounding his program, the league and college athletics as a whole. The Chicago Tribune has more from Brey:
"The month leading up to us making the decision to move to the ACC, there were very mixed emotions," Brey said. "Our identity and my identity was with the Big East. It's yet another blow that we all felt was coming, and it's one of the reasons we made the move we made to the ACC. To see that league maybe breaking off, it's hard for anybody who invested a lot of time in the league."
When the decision was made to jump leagues, Brey characterized the mindset as "be ready to play in the Big East two more seasons, most likely."
Brey wondered Thursday if that logic still held.
"When you look at the climate right now in the Big East, maybe that does get us there next year," he said.
This is absolutely something being addressed by ACC, Louisville and Notre Dame officials today and likely through the weekend. When we get an answer, I don't know. No one knows. Finalized details of the Big East's implosion are yet to come, and whenever that happens, myriad lawsuits could follow due to problems that naturally arise with the football side of things, let alone how basketball is actually the one, for once, dictating this earthquake.
Lawsuits mean money gets tied up and that throws a kink into the process of which programs are able to leave sooner rather than later. But if the Big East isn't able to operate under the once-binding guidelines that most of these schools agreed to, then what's to stop Notre Dame and Louisville from taking a hike and using such an unprecedented conference detonation as precedent for getting out ASAP in a league they were already ditching to begin with?