UConn introduced Warde Manuel as its new Athletic Director Monday.
To recap: Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, Louisville -- all gone from the Big East for either cushier spots in the ACC or Big 12. And now the seven Catholic, non-FBS programs that remained are cutting bait, too. Providence, Georgetown, Villanova, DePaul, St. John's, Seton Hall and Marquette would rather take their chances apart from the Big East. That's how much pull the one-time premier conference now has.
There are many losers in all this, but one of the biggest is UConn. On the outside looking in for more than a year as other programs leave for better opportunities elsewhere, the Huskies now teeter on irrelevance. The men's basketball team isn't eligible for the NCAA postseason and the coach's contract expires in the spring; two things that aren't exactly helping recruiting. The football team, meanwhile, just put the finishing touches on another 5-7 season. And since football is the engine driving all this conference realignment, the less competitive the Huskies become, the worse it is for the university's athletics future.
There are countless reasons why the Big East is now a shell of it former self. And the systematic dismantling is hard to watch for Dan Gavitt, whose father, Dave, founded the conference in 1979.
Definitely sadness," Gavitt told the New Haven Register's David Borges. "It's heartbreaking to see something so special for so long be changed irrevocably. That's not a comment on the new members coming int. But just ... Syracuse-Georgetown, Syracuse-UConn, Pittsburgh-West Virginia -- you can't replace those things. Just like Kansas-Missouri can't be replaced, either. Not to say there aren't a lot of good things left -- Villanova-Georgetown, UConn-St. John's -- and other new ones will develop. But conference realignment has had an unfortunate impact on college basketball across the nation."
For UConn, things will get worse before they get better.