Posted on: September 23, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 2:31 pm
By Jeff Goodman
Some guys just aren't cut out to be head coaches. They make better assistants.
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto may be one of those guys.
"I firmly believe we would manage this a lot better with a different leader," said one Big East head coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "He's a good man, a good right-hand man. But I think he's in over his head."
To be fair, Marinatto was thrust into an unenviable situation, following the late Dave Gavitt and Mike Tranghese as the leaders of the Big East.
Marinatto's resume reads as follows: A Providence kid who graduated from Providence College in 1979, then later went onto become the athletic director at the school for 14 years. He was the associate commissioner of the Big East from 2002-2009, when he took over for Tranghese.
"There's just no way it would have gotten to this point if Dave or Mike were still in charge," another Big East head man said.
One thing is for certain: Gavitt and/or Tranghese wouldn't have had the news of Syracuse and Pittsburgh's departure delivered to him in a football press box on Saturday - as has been reported to be the case with Marinatto.
"I'm not sure how it would have worked out, but it would have," a coach in the league said about the overall situation the league now finds itself.
``I doubt it," answered yet another when posed the question whether this would have occurred under previous leadership.
However, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh departing for the ACC at some point (likely prior to 2014) and UConn begging and pleading to join the exodus, Marinatto has come under fire.
While there are certainly those who are skeptical, Marinatto does still have his share of support.
"I think eventually this would have happened anyway," one coach said. "Everyone wants to put it on Marinatto, but this is a league that's been built on instability."
Now the future of the Big East - and the way it'll be comprised - is in jeopardy. Will it add a couple members to replace what is has lost - and may lose - and move forward? Or will it re-shape itself for improved long-term stability and go the route of the "basketball-only" schools, thus going hard after Xavier and Butler?
We'll see what Marinatto does - and whether his fate mirrors that of outgoing Big 12 commish Dan Beebe, who's at left of Marinatto in the photo above.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:56 pm
By Matt Norlander
The Pac-12 is staying put, and that means there's a whole lot of confusion going on. Naturally, conversation must be had, so Goodman and Parrish hopped on the podcast with me today. Topics addressed:
Posted on: September 19, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: September 21, 2011 1:03 pm
By Matt Norlander
Who better to have on Monday's podcast than the man responsible for so much of the newsbreaking over the weekend? Our Brett McMurphy hopped on with me to talk about his reporting of the ACC/Big East mess and who/what/why is next. This conference talk is as much about reaction as it is prediction, so we ride both sides of that seesaw.
For instance, isn't the SEC a little too quiet right now? The conference sits at 13 teams. That can't last for long. Is the Pac-12 going to become the Pac-16 by week's end? How is Texas holding all of this up, and is the Longhorn Network just an albatross at this point?
McMurphy's blog should be in your daily rotation at this point. And follow him on Twitter. Guy's practically doubled his follower count in the past week. Love it. The 'Stache is mighty powerful these days.
If you please, here's the link for iTunes subscription. The podcast goes up a few minutes after it's live here on the blog, so be sure to subscribe. Or, if you're just hanging out, click the player below and enjoy.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:36 am
By Matt Norlander
Suddenly, over the weekend, it started to feel real. Really real, really fast.
Conference realignment -- two words everyone's quickly adapting as cringe-worthy as "Brett Favre" -- just had its first corporeal, wide-ranging impact on college basketball. Before this, the BYU, Texas A&M, Colorado, Boise State (what? Don't you realize it jumped form the WAC to the Mountain West?) and Nebraska scurries from one spot to another were fringe movements; the fray before the tear. They no doubt signaled a larger shift at work, but it wasn't until the swift -- and goodness was this FAST -- bolt from the Big East by Syracuse and Pitt that we really felt the revolt.
We finally have a tear.
The other schools jumping, like most of these decisions, if not all of them, were football-related. But I don't see how the case could be made this Syracuse/Pitt package deal was all about pigskin. This truly, tangibly shifted the perception and existence of the college basketball world.
Two schools leaving college basketball's latest and greatest conference, the best one we have (plenty claim the '09 Big East crop was the best assembled in the history of the game), to go to the old-school best conference. Your older brother's and father's best basketball conference. And with that shift, the ACC can claim perennial paramount over the sport's landscape once again. You don't think that had as much to do with leaving as television/football money down the road? It certainly did.
And the fallout came fast over the weekend. Who knows which school presidents are talking to which conferences now. The rearrangement everyone claimed was coming (and because everyone claimed it was coming, is that why it transpired?) is here. We're fully in the throes. It's clear: Texas A&M may have "tripped the wire" on realignment in 2011, but Syracuse and Pittsburgh undoubtedly shook the foundation on which East Coast college sports rest on. The Big East as we know it is dead and gone, haphazardly and ironically eased into the coffin by one of its founding members in Syracuse.
And so the next question everyone has waits before us. What's next of the Big East? Well, what of the ACC as well? Seems pretty clear based off ACC commissioner John Swofford's quotes that 14 is merely an overnight stay of a number for the league. Could we be at 16 by week's end? And if we are, who are the next two schools? If UConn gets an invite and accepts (which it would), then the Big East gets a full downgrade by any pragmatic measure.
Just a few of the questions that come to mind: What will happen with Madison Square Garden? Will the ACC adopt its postseason in the same amateur way the Big East does/did? Does this affect the tenures of any coaches in their 60s (Boeheim, Williams, K, Calhoun)? And a big one the coaches are vested in: How does this alter the recruiting strategies for all big players involved? For the past 13 months, college football's culture -- its teams, school presidents, ADs, fans and writers -- got busy worrying, ranting, predicting, diagramming and explaining away what was happening in its sport. College basketball politely and quietly stood on the outer circle, taking an occasional piece of shrapnel to the face out of self-mandated loyalty to big brother's fight.
But now the fight is college basketball's, too. Now the future of the sport is truly changing and the traditions, identities, patterns and grooves of the sport as we know it are mutating are an alarming speed. How we see the sport today isn't how we saw it a week ago. And in a week's time, the view could change again.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 2:19 pm
By Gary Parrish
You don't apply for membership to the ACC unless you already know you'll be accepted.
So this is happening.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh -- two of the Big East's most important members -- are heading to the land of Duke and North Carolina, and though I'm not certain what it does for the ACC in football other than ensure commissioner John Swofford will run what's on track to be the first so-called super conference, the basketball aspect of this is exciting.
The ACC was already arguably the nation's best basketball conference.
Now it won't even be debatable.
The league is about to add two perennial and rock-solid top-25 programs .
Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim are the active leaders in victories.
Now they'll be fighting for the same league championship.
That's a cool future for the ACC.
Meantime, where the Big East goes from here is anybody's guess.
One option might be to try to pluck Kansas and Kansas State from the Big 12 to get to nine all-sports members (once TCU is added), but West Virginia could still, at some point, leave for the SEC, and Rutgers is always an option for the Big Ten. In other words, the Big East is just as vulnerable as the Big 12. One of the leagues might survive, at best. But the most likely scenario has leftover members from both leagues merging to form something that's a geographical mess and notch below a soon-to-be-enhanced SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12.
"Whatever happens, we'll have to adjust to it," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told CBSSports.com by phone on Saturday. "I'm not commenting on Syracuse to the ACC, but in general I'm saying that I don't see how it's a good thing to have all these huge conferences. But I may be wrong. That's my opinion -- and I'm old. ... [But] some day we'll get to 16-team leagues and everybody may look back on it and say it wasn't such a great idea."
Most agree with Boeheim because there's a chance this makes everybody more money at the cost of happiness.
Traditional powers will have a tougher time winning league titles.
Traditional losers will have a tougher time breaking through.
Traditional rivalries will be sacrificed.
But complaining about those things is like sitting around and complaining about how children don't play outside anymore. Or how our country would be better without fast-food chains on every corner. Or how the BCS ruins college football's postseason. Like it or not, these are the times in which we live. Super conferences are coming, and Swofford should be credited for being proactive in this eat-or-be-eaten world. He's on the verge of poaching two of the Big East's all-sports schools and ensuring the ACC survives this grand shift in the landscape of college athletics, and by doing so he's seriously enhanced the basketball side of his conference.
Yes, I know, basketball isn't what's dictating any of these proposed moves.
But that doesn't mean basketball won't be affected.
Or, in the ACC's case, vastly improved.
Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 8, 2011 9:08 am
By Jeff Goodman
Posted on: July 23, 2011 7:08 am
Edited on: July 23, 2011 12:08 pm
Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.
By Jeff Borzello
Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:02 pm
Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.
By Jeff Borzello
LAS VEGAS -- The hardest part of being an assistant coach is not losing a game, losing a recruit or losing sleep.
For Mike Hopkins, it's being away from his family for so much of the year.
"It's very hard," Hopkins said.
The actual season lasts more than five months, with road trips and late nights in the office taking up much of that time frame. Factor in more than 20 days on the road in July, recruiting trips throughout the year and in-home visits in the fall, and assistant coaches are forced to truly make the most of their time at home.
"It's a long season," Hopkins said. "The biggest thing is the pull that you have [from home and from the job]. It's almost like, when are you home?"
While at home, he said he puts his phone in a different room after around 7 p.m. and only check it periodically during the rest of the night.
"I was getting too many phone calls," Hopkins said. During my time with him, his phone rang dozens of times and buzzed with text messages on countless occasions. Being on the road is a different story. His sole mode of communication with his family is via phone.
Hopkins, who has a wife and three kids back home in Syracuse, speaks to his wife on the phone several times a day. He tried to FaceTime on his iPhone at one point, too. (It failed, due to lack of Wi-Fi in the gym). A text message from his son early in the morning made his day, while videos of his daughter jumping off a diving board and going down a slide for the first time brought a smile to his face.
"You don't want to miss any moments," Hopkins said.
For an assistant coach on the road, it's becoming harder and harder to do that -- but some still find a way.