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The real problem in college athletics

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 

Feel the earth move today? If you're a fan of college sports...the Big East in particular...it's still moving.

Right into the toilet, it seems.

Don't get me wrong - I love college athletics.  I've been involved with school sports most of my life, either as a fan or a professional in the media.  But I have to say I'm wondering where we're going with all of this.

I don't like it - but we'd best get used to it.

The ridiculousness of the changing college landscape shifted into pure lunacy with Rutgers announcing Tuesday it would join Maryland as new members in the Big 10 Conference.  The same Rutgers that has brought ZERO to the table within the Big East over the 20 years it has been a member, except for an alleged presence in the New York market.  The fact that an austere group of institutions such as the Big 10 Conference would actually ask Rutgers to join them is astounding, really.  

What exactly does RU bring to the table?  A TV market?  Academics?  Winning football?  Winning anything?  Here's what they bring - the chance to sell New Jersey sports fans subscriptions to the Big Ten Television Network, who will buy into it because their beloved Scarlet Knights might be on it.  Occasionally.  But the Big Ten doesn't care.  They only care that they can now turn to cable companies and advertisers and say "look, we added New York!"

Completely preposterous.  That's like saying colleges are actually institutions of higher learning these days.  They're not, of course.  Colleges and their presidents care about the bottom line - money.  Lots of money.  You want the true culprits in this changing landscape, blame the college honchos.  They could care less about the burdens they place on their "student athletes," their coaches or administrators.  Why else do you force them into seemingly unnatural relationships? 

Because of money.  Lots of money.  The presidents turn to their regents and say "look at me, look what I did for our future!"  What exactly did they do for their schools' future?  They might have helped the present, but they have also mortgaged any future that might exist.  In many ways, the world of college athletics now mirrors the problems we're having in every day life - chasing after the almighty dollar, and not being able to sustain that growth.  Hey, it's great for these schools that grab the cash...can't blame them in the least.  But what happens to your school - and your teams - when the money runs out?  Is this atmosphere currently awash in cash going to continue forever?

Of course not.  And in the process, athletic programs enter into irrelevancy...if they weren't forgotten already.  Take Boston College for example.  How is their move to the ACC working out athletically?  They may have some cash...but they certainly don't have the wins to show for it, do they?  Syracuse and Pittsburgh had best take note.  They'll be right there with BC, having alienated their eastern brethren, in another five years...or less.  These schools can't recruit on Tobacco Road in the ACC against the ACC, and athletes still want to play where friends and family can see them play.  Hey Rutgers, prepare to have New Jersey poached and picked clean by your new competition.  You open the door to leave, others will step in, to be sure.  It'll be over for you before it ever starts.  

Here's what I'd like to see.  A school president - anywhere - to stand up and say "this isn't right for us, it's not right for our students, our athletes or our fans."  Someone with the character to actually admit "you know, $15 million is a pretty good windfall.  We don't need $20 million at the cost of unnecessary strain on our travel budgets, not to mention the stress put on our students."  Or better yet - "we want to put our student athletes first, without renting them out like pack mules."

Which is precisely what these presidents are doing.  Will these athletes actually see any of the windfall?  Of course not.  There are facilities to pay for...travel budgets to pay for.  You know, I might just give in to the madness if I thought schools like Rutgers might actually make some of their newly-found cash available to students who can't afford ever-increasing college costs these days.  But no, sadly, that won't happen either.  Because Rutgers has already mortgaged its future trying to remain relevant in the Big East by building up a football program that was one of the worst in America a few years ago...and they've got bills to pay.  

If the Big East wanted to stop the shaking, perhaps using a football analogy might work here - take the ball, and run.  With Maryland leaving the ACC, even for an apparent $50 million exit fee, that's got to leave an unsettling feeling for schools like Duke and North Carolina.  Clemson, Florida State, Virginia and maybe even ex-Big East schools Miami, Virginia Tech and BC have to wonder if there's a better situation out there, where they might thrive out from under the large shadows cast by the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.  If I'm Big East commish Mike Aresco, I'm knocking on some doors and making calls...to see if a return to the East might be warranted for some.  Syracuse?  Come on back, we hardly missed ya.  Why?  Because there's still a huge demand for product from the sports networks out there...and the Big East does have a very good product to offer.  Still one of the best in basketball, and as good or better this year than the ACC and Big 10 in football.  

Stop the insanity - and come home.  There's still plenty of money to make right here.

What about renewed regional relationships - and renewed rivalries - to offer?  That's a bit of a novelty these days.  Relevancy to their fans and local communities.  Reduced costs to travel to see your team play.  Do these schools hiring moving vans really believe their fans will follow them all over the country year after year after year?  Even Rutgers fans aren't that dumb.  It won't take too many trips to Iowa City, IA or W. Lafayette, IN to figure that one out.

Unlike my GoLocal colleague Scott Cordischi, I don't believe the Big East is imploding.  It will exist in some form, but no one knows what that will be today.  Or tomorrow.  The catholic "non-football" schools, like Providence, are best served by waiting this seismic shift out a little further.  Revenue streams still revolve around football.  They've discussed alternatives, believe me.  Could a basketball-centric conference work again, like the Big East did 30+ years ago?  Only if there's no other option, and if there's a willing TV newcomer to the party...kind of like 30 years ago, when ESPN was in its infancy - along with the Big East.  

That newcomer exists today.  Better to wait this out a little longer.  

I won't be surprised if UConn or Louisville decides to follow Rutgers out of the Big East house.  It's crumbling, sure.  But how about fixing the problem, rather than adding to it and dumping on everyone else?  I recall a wise man (the Iceman, George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs) once told me - "hey, don't worry about it.  What goes around, comes around."  In time, the dearly departed will wonder "what did we really do?"

So, enjoy your newly-found gain, Rutgers.  Be happy with your new schools and partners, who really don't want YOU.  They want your alleged TV households.  Same for Maryland.  And as for the earth-moving thing?  Don't worry.  That's just the door hitting you on your way out.  

 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Comments:

John,

Why doesn't Marquette, DePaul, Providence, St. John's, Villanova, Seton Hall, Georgetown from the Big East join other basketball only schools like Xavier, St. Joseph, Dayton, St. Louis, Creighton, Siena, and Butler to form a basketball only conference. I understand the money aspect but these schools with no football programs/or Div 1 football programs will never get that big time money.

Perhaps even do a east/west division and include basketball only programs in the west like Gonzaga.

Comment #1 by John LeMasters on 2012 11 21

The big east has only themselves to blame for what happened to them.The basketball only schools bit the hand that fed them.

Comment #2 by james kane on 2012 11 21

John - that has been discussed. There is still big time $$$ available, as long as football is part of the equation. For PC, the difference is around $2 million per year. That's alot for a small school.

James - just not true. The Big East reacted to other conferences' poaching tactics. There's much more $$$ out there tied to football, so I don't blame the hoop schools at all. But they do, finally, have to look at other options. And they are.

Comment #3 by John Rooke on 2012 11 21

John- Its been said that theres not much diference between the Mountain West and the Big East (esp with the BE not getting anything automatic in the BCS ). Why would any new football programs want to join the BE when they have to share football money with a bunch of colleges with no Div In football programs?

I'm assuming PC and the only colleges are just waiting for the BE to dissolve before making serious discussions about a basketball only conference.

What it boils down to, is I'm upset that somehow through all these changes and transformations PC is going to be left in the dust and become nothing more than a Holy Cross.

Comment #4 by John LeMasters on 2012 11 21

Amid all the congratulatory posts I can't forget
that we are leaving a conference which has been our home for almost twenty
years. It is with some sadness that today has arrived. Therefore it
is fitting to say goodbye to the Big East members and officials Rutgers has
dealt with.



1. UConn. You were the closest thing we had
to a football rival. Yes we hated each other. But we respected you for
building an FBS football program that could compete with the best in the Big
East after only becoming an FBS program in 2000. You were a worthy rival, beat
us as much as we did you, and made every game a battle. Good luck in the ACC
which is where you will probably end up.



2. Cincinnati. Belittled as a "Conference
USA" team, you just ignored it and won the BE title 3 out of the last four
years. You administered some of our most stinging defeats, yet our fan
bases could always carry on a civilized discourse. Justice requires that
your program find a home among the "haves" of college football.



3. Temple. After being discarded from the BE
you battled through the MAC to get back, only to find the current mess. Here's
hoping your program continues its revival and has the success in Philly that
we've had in New Jersey.



4. USF. A program that was geographically
isolated from the rest of the conference, you saved your best games for big
name out of conference foes and gave the Big East respectability when there was
little available. After building a program from a trailer, you competed
with and beat some of the best. Good luck.



5. Louisville. You joined, immediately made an
impact, won a BCS bowl then disappeared again. Maybe you're back. We'll
see in two weeks. Good luck in the Big 12 where you'll probably end up.
And please tell Pitino to just S.T.F.U. for once.



6. Syracuse. You hate us because we took your place
in eastern football. We hate you because even after we cleaned your clock
regularly, you could never admit that we were your equal. We're not anymore. We
passed you long ago. You don't have to worry about us becoming your rival
because you're nowhere near good enough. You looked for the first opportunity
to betray this conference, were unsuccessful in 2003 and finally succeeded last
year. Here's hoping that the ACC crumbles around your ears, and you finally
realize what you really are: a mid-major with a good basketball program that
shouldn't play football anymore.



7. Pitt. A school whose fans crow about the glory
days of thirty years ago because their program has done nothing since. Your Big
East record is almost identical to Rutgers but somehow you think you're royalty
because of a 1976 NC won by beating three teams with a winning record the
entire year. Despite all your bluster of being a traditional football
power, you failed miserably in the Big East. When Miami and Virginia Tech left,
you and Syracuse had the "names" and the opportunity to step up and
keep the Big East respectable. You both did nothing but embarrass it. Good luck
at telling Miami, Clemson and Florida State how important you are. Well as long
as they hang around anyway.



8. West Virginia. The team we could never beat.
Maybe you wouldn't have liked us as much if we beat you once in a while. But we
respected you because you went out in BCS bowls beat the Big 12, SEC, and ACC,
and were the only one carrying the BE flag for many years. The fact that you
found a home in the Big 12 shows there is some sense of justice in the world.
Good luck.



9. Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech.
The original traitors. Miami and Virginia Tech get a pass because
they were southern schools all along and were misplaced in the Big East.
Boston College was the ultimate traitor. And you got what you deserved.
Becoming a doormat in a conference that doesn't know why you're even
there.



10. Boise State, Houston, SMU, UCF, San Diego
State, and Memphis State. The opponents we never got to know. And victims
of the injustice of the BCS cartel, having obtained AQ status for one year only
to have it ripped away. Even though Rutgers is going to Big Ten, I still
hope for a fair national playoff where you can take the field and compete based
on your athletic skill, not the conference you're a member of.



11. Dave Gavitt - Founder of the Big East, a sorely
needed basketball league for eastern schools that was wildly successful.
Too bad it became the main culprit responsible for the death of eastern
football. More concerned about protecting schools who had no interest in
fielding a D1 football team than protecting all of its members interests, it
strangled and killed eastern football, driving Penn State to the Big Ten, then
bungling it's attempt to run a football conference. A good idea that went
too far and caused more harm than good.



12. Mike Tranghese - The ultimate traitor and Judas
who while supposedly advancing the interests of all league members, sought to
benefit basketball only schools to the detriment of those who actually wanted
to compete in D1 football. Your latest pronouncements confirm what we knew all
along: you would sell Big East football up the river as long as it would
protect your parochial basketball league. You should be sued back to the
Stone Age for breach of fiduciary duty, and the two-faced scumbag that you are.



12. John Marinatto - You seem like a nice, decent
guy. Unfortunately you were in way over your head and fumbled away the Big
East's last chances for survival. How the Big East could ever agree to make a
commissioner from someone who was fired as the AD of Providence College is
unfathomable. You tried to execute the marching orders you received from the
charlatan Tranghese to protect the basketball schools. However, your bogus
attempt to strong arm the football schools into paying for Villanova to become
an FBS school ultimately killed the conference.



13. Notre Dame - I hate you. But you have
always looked out for your interests and in this day and age there's nothing
wrong with that. You attached yourself as a parasite to the Big East, sucked
out the benefits of being in the nation's best basketball league and never gave
anything back in return except the forlorn hope that someday your fabled
football team would join. And now that you have sucked the life from the Big
East, you have found another basketball-centric conference to feed off of.
Good for you, you're a survivor. And you have now returned to your former
historical place. A media darling whose hand-picked schedule gets you to good bowl
games only to be crushed by teams who go through the forge of becoming a
conference champion. It'll be fun to see Alabama beat the hell out of you
on New Year's Day to start another epic bowl losing streak.



So goodbye former friends, rivals, enemies,
culprits and fools. May you all obtain what you deserve.



This post was edited on 11/20 10:09 PM by graystork
11/20 6:24 PM | IP: Logged

RUAlways4ever
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Very well done 'stork. Props.



ps

Something tells me I'm going to like this thread, if you know what I mean...

11/20 6:26 PM | IP: Logged

OffTheBanks

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Other than your hatred of Pitt, which I don't share, this is a great post. Well done.
11/20 6:30 PM | IP: Logged

SoCalFan

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That was one of the most epic posts I have ever read. Well done my man, well done.
11/20 6:32 PM | IP: Logged

TCRC93
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the sad thing is the Big East was almost and should haev been a great fb conference. The leadership was terrible. Worse than terrible really.
11/20 6:41 PM | IP: Logged

Arizona Knight

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One of the top posts ever on this board for sure. Fantastic job.
11/20 6:42 PM | IP: Logged

RUich

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Epic post. This somehow belongs pinned at the top I think.
2005-The year that will be remembered as the true turning point of Rutgers football.2006- The punctuation point! Nationally ranked, near miss at winning the BE and a BCS game and our first bowl win.
11/20 6:43 PM | IP: Logged

AreYouNUTS

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Excellent (except for the Yuke-On love, but I'll give you a pass on that as the rest was SUPERB...) !!!!!!!!!1
It's Time for The Giant to Awaken!!!!
11/20 6:51 PM | IP: Logged

ru66
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personnally I hope the NBE survives and does well
11/20 6:54 PM | IP: Logged

BigLou

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After reading numbers 1 to 5 I was going to tell you to grow a pair but you turned things around nicely with the jabs at Cuse.
11/20 6:57 PM | IP: Logged

NY AGENTMAN
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That was really well done.

West Virginia really did save the conference for awhile w/ their BCS wins, Pitt really piised away a good opportunity when they got rid of Wanny. Syracuse fans were the worst by far, spoiled little rich kids from Long Island throwing a hissy fit that their football team was overtaken by the" Gap Tooth Bastard, Shady Schiano. Thank You Louisville for the most exciting game I ever have been to ( Pro or College) in 2006. Lastly a thank you to South Florida who always went out and beat very good occ teams only to have RU beat them regularly.

Now that RU is in a real good conference, I can root for the other teams inn the B1g to be successful as well, I couldn't do that in the current BE. Just never thought it mattered.

AuRevoir BE.
11/20 7:12 PM | IP: Logged

MrsScrew
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11/20 7:16 PM | IP: Logged

esway1

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excellent, well done.
11/20 7:32 PM | IP: Logged

RMSko

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Well done, although I also don't share your hatred for Pitt. I think most of their fans are knowledgable and fair. I competely agree with you re Cuse. Their fan base is wretched and one of the most dilusional fan bases I have ever encountered.
11/20 7:44 PM | IP: Logged

Jersey Boys
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This post should be pinned at the top and saved for some time. A great farewell indeed.
11/20 7:47 PM | IP: Logged

Cheat Lake EER

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Well done.
"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."
11/20 8:19 PM | IP: Logged

fatsam98

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Great post stork, a little over the top re: Pitt but agree with everything else. Hopefully we can keep playing UConn OOC.
11/20 8:21 PM | IP: Logged

andy0731

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hey...that was very well done. You covered everything - have passed it on to a few bud's up here in Rochester, NY and Erie, PA. Good luck - and glad to have you aboard. Have two daughters - one in Hoboken and one in the East Village - I am sure I will be attending all the PSU games at your place - Beat the Buckeye's.
11/20 8:24 PM | IP: Logged

jeffhu1636
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Greystork, this is an amazing post. you really poured out feelings i think many of us have. i could never have articulated them this well.
11/20 8:25 PM | IP: Logged

Abro1975
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Great post Stork ! You should send it around. Maybe even revive 'Return of the Barbarians'.. and as far as Pitt goes, LOL, a few of us know the origin of the Hatred, lol.

Should I post the pic of you waving goodbye to them , with one finger? LOL>
11/20 8:29 PM | IP: Logged

lighty
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I think newly all of us are happy WV landed in a great conference, which is strange considers no the way they owned us. Nevertheless, their fans in Jersey were always good to me and they sure as hell represented the conference well in BCS bowls. We owe them a lot (even though we had them beat in 2006 without the refs blown calls).
11/20 8:31 PM | IP: Logged

TM514
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Great Post!
11/20 8:32 PM | IP: Logged

NorthNJRUFan

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Originally posted by ru66:

personnally I hope the NBE survives and does well
I second that. Seems unlikely but since the only school in the BE I despise is heading out I will be rooting for the entire BE (in two years!)
11/20 8:34 PM | IP: Logged

rsutton86

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Originally posted by OffTheBanks:
Other than your hatred of Pitt, which I don't share, this is a great post. Well done.
I don't hate Pitt, I actually like them but the constant use of results and accomplishments of 40 years ago and early 1900s to justify that they were better than us today got old.
11/20 8:41 PM | IP: Logged

RC91alum

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ummm...WVU, we did beat them in 1992 and 94, just never in Morgantown (except 2006 when we got a bullship call and had in fact won that game)

4 times in fact, 33-4-2 overall record with 1921, and 1984 (pre BE)
This post was edited on 11/20 8:50 PM by RC91alum
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MADHAT1
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Well Done
11/20 8:50 PM | IP: Logged

cookRUgrad89

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Graystork, I don't post much, but I have been reading this board for a long time, and that was a GREAT post!
11/20 8:51 PM | IP: Logged

ScarletNut

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Bravo! I'm gonna cut and paste it and promise to give you credit.
Dan Patrick on ESPN radio- Rutgers won, deal with it.
11/20 9:22 PM | IP: Logged

Steveriknight
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Great post Holmes....great post.
11/20 9:36 PM | IP: Logged

WhoRU?
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Festivus came early this year:)
11/20 9:40 PM | IP: Logged

ruhoopsguy

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Great, great post.
11/20 9:52 PM | IP: Logged

graystork

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Originally posted by WhoRU?:
Festivus came early this year:)
LOL. We will now proceed to the Feats of Strength.
11/20 9:57 PM | IP: Logged

ScarletRunner
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Awesome post Graystork. Should be pinned.
11/20 9:57 PM | IP: Logged

Leonard23
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Nicely done. Don't u have anything to say about the basketball CYO's, especially the smurfs?
Posted from Rivals Mobile



Posted on 11/20 10:07 PM | IP: Logged


ScarletCrimson
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TCU?

Once you chop, you can't stop.
11/20 10:10 PM | IP: Logged

WhiteBus
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graystork. An excellent read and a great post. However I have no fondness for a even a second of RU's time in the BE. It was exciting to be at the first BE game at RU but to be honest it has been down hill from there. There are numerous times when the BE leadership has failed miserably...more then any conference should allow, But time and time again the BE brass has shown their distain for the football schools. I have no fond memories about being in the BE including the 2006 game. Our two BE partners killed that dream.

I look forward to be a pround member of the B1G Ten
11/20 10:23 PM | IP: Logged

Eagleton96

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That was brilliant. That fully captures how I feel about each of these entities. This is a post for the ages. Should be pinned.
11/20 10:27 PM | IP: Logged

Night Man

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Originally posted by graystork:

Originally posted by WhoRU?:
Festivus came early this year:)
LOL. We will now proceed to the Feats of Strength.
well actually, Frank! Frank! Frank!
11/20 10:34 PM | IP: Logged

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Comment #5 by james kane on 2012 11 21

John - sorry, it took me forever to get to your post since a Rutgers fan decided to post his diatribe. BE football schools do NOT share income revenue with basketball schools. I don't really believe PC will become Holy Cross...no matter what happens. There will still be a high profile league - maybe even still known as the Big East, if it all blows up.

Comment #6 by John Rooke on 2012 11 21

Uh, Purdue is in West Lafayette, Indiana... Other than that, spot on column John.

Comment #7 by Joe Parello on 2012 11 21

Who allowed the disgruntled Rutgers fan to post his version of War & Peace? What a clown, although I agree with some of his observations.

John, and outstanding article that accurately points the finger of blame where it rightfully belongs; College Presidents and LOTS OF MONEY!
What's happening in college sports is disgraceful. My question is quite simple, has tuition at any of these schools been lowered or increased lessened as a result of all this new found cash? I think we all know the answer. What is happening in all aspects of higher academia is nauseating. However, it will continue as long as the fans demand and ALLOW it.

Comment #8 by Harold Stassen on 2012 11 21

i have long thought over the years that most of the big east schools never realized how good they had it...pc especially - they took the money and milked it for all it was worth.

Comment #9 by jon paycheck on 2012 11 21

the real problem is ,they pay coaches way to much money!

Comment #10 by anthony sionni on 2012 11 25




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