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College Conferences are Learning that Bigger Isn’t Better

College basketball season has begun conference play in the Metroplex, and it couldn’t be more chaotic.

TCU playing the likes of UT and Texas Teach sounds right, but currently, the UTA Mavericks are getting up for the likes of… Denver and Seattle?

But that’s nothing compared to SMU’s future. What conference will they even be in next year? Okay, it may still be the Big East, but in another two years, who knows?

As Larry Brown spent his first season on the Hilltop getting his men ready for their last season in Conference USA several members of the Big East have put their foot down and said they’re fed up. The likes of Georgetown, Villanova, St. John’s, Providence and three other schools declared they would leave to form their own conference. And because most of them are founding members of the Big East, they could very well take that name with them.

In a way, it’s kind of sad for someone like Brown. Clearly SMU didn’t give basketball any thought in joining the Big East, nor did they for any sport that doesn’t involve pads and helmet. Football was the only reason for the move, just like it always was.

The likes of SMU, Houston, Boise State and San Diego State all declared moving to a conference with the delicious offer of a BCS bowl game, and the conference took them so they could have a conference championship football game, scheduling and travel expenses of all the other sports be damned.

Now, it’s all falling apart. The eventual demise of the BCS leaves the Big East with no such incentive, and the schools who were pushed around for the big football schools are finally taking their ball and going home.

The fallout is continuing for the conference. Boise and San Diego are pulling their bids to join, leaving the conference that is currently known as the Big East to almost be a stripped down version of the old Missouri Valley Conference.

Did anyone really think these supper conferences were going to hold?

As the Big East and the SEC kept piling on members, sports writers everywhere kept writing tales of how college sports would eventually be comprised into just four huge regionals of 16-team conferences, simplifying their jobs to not have to follow so many leagues.

But this thing had precedent. And it failed then.

After the breakup of the Southwest Conference, the WAC ballooned to 16 teams with the addition of SMU, TCU and Houston. All it did was lead to many of its original members breaking away to form the Mountain West Conference.

And now it’s happening again, as conferences like the Big East are learning that you can’t keep so many schools happy at once.

It’s probably only a matter of time before the conference still inexplicably known as the Big Ten follows suit, and the mega-conference-merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West falls apart.

Bigger is not always better, as the Big East, and all of college sports, are finding out again.


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