Marinatto has his eyes on future of college football

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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Big East commissioner John Marinatto, the man that former Big East boss Mike Tranghese credits for saving the Big East in 2003, may also have saved college football -– from itself.

With Texas A&M's possible move to the SEC and the resulting dominos that could ultimately level the college football landscape, Marinatto took the initiative to contact Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, ACC commissioner John Swofford and NCAA president Mark Emmert in the past few days.

ACC commissioner John Swofford agrees that the conference leaders should be mindful of the big picture. (AP)  
ACC commissioner John Swofford agrees that the conference leaders should be mindful of the big picture. (AP)  
Marinatto expressed his thoughts about how the conference commissioners could restore a sense of integrity in the way they handle intercollegiate athletics.

"I suggested to both Dan Beebe and John Swofford that the Big East, Big 12 and ACC take the lead and meet face-to-face to collaborate in a manner that is consistent with Mark Emmert's recent call for integrity within college athletics," Marinatto told CBSSports.com.

Without a college football commissioner, there is no one in charge of college football, leaving each conference to do what is in its best interests –- without regard to how it might affect other conferences or college football in general.

Marinatto spoke with Emmert on Monday about his conversations with Beebe and Swofford, prompting Emmert to reach out to other top college officials.

"As stewards of our respective conferences and leaders in the world of higher education and intercollegiate athletics, I believe we can and must be mindful of everyone's best interests and be constructive instead of destructive, even though I recognize that we are competitors and have different constituents to serve," Marinatto said. "Both Dan and John were supportive and open to this concept, especially given the message and tone of Mark's recent presidential retreat.

"[Monday], I advised Mark about our conversations and he suggested that he reach out to all six of us."

If the SEC adds Texas A&M, the SEC also is expected to grab another school from another conference, perhaps the ACC, Big East or Big 12. The Big 12 already has said it would "aggressively" explore expansion opportunities, in turn taking one or more teams from another conference.

Those conferences would then respond and all of sudden a "War Games" version of "Global Thermonuclear War" has broken out in college football. Shall we play a game?

CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd first reported the conversations Monday between the conference commissioners and Emmert.

"As it relates to conference realignment, if we can find a more structured way to do business with each other, we need to try to find it," Swofford said. "In my opinion, further exploration would be healthy and beneficial for our profession. I'm open to Mark's involvement in helping us find a process that better serves the greater good of college athletics."

The New York Times reported that Beebe and SEC commissioner Mike Slive had a heated telephone conversation last week about Texas A&M's potential move to the SEC.

Whether Marinatto's actions will keep the BCS leagues from cannibalizing each other –- or just make them more civil while eating their own -– remains to be seen. It is, however, a significant first step for a sport where clearly no one is in charge.

"My primary concern is more global," Marinatto said. "We need to restore confidence and integrity into the collegiate model and that can only be done if and when we as leaders work together in a constructive manner."

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