07 May 2012
Big East Commissioner John Marinatto has been relieved of his duties. That shouldn't really be a shock since he was terrible, but still a surprise that it happened now. You know, with the conference's impending BCS battle to remain a power conference and the television deal that will define its ability to compete. Just that.
It was a coup led by the basketball-only members, which is sort of morbidly hilarious.
Sources tell the Newark Star-Ledger that the new commissioner is expected to have a background in in football and/or television rights. I just pray that he has some connection to Providence College.
Dana O'Neil writes how he lacked the skill-set to handle the admittedly tough hand he was dealt (via ESPN):
Marinatto is a good man. He is a nice man. He was then, and remained until his last day at work, the wrong man for this job.
Jim Delany is a lawyer. Ditto Mike Slive. Larry Scott arrived at the then-Pac-10 having resuscitated a flailing women's professional tennis league. Bob Bowlsby has more awards and accolades as a big-time sports administrator than the cash-flush Big 12 members he will preside over.
Marinatto was born in Providence, went to Providence College, worked at Providence and then took a job in the Big East, which is located in … Providence.
With the exception of the ghost of Dave Gavitt, the league could not have hired a more "Big East" guy.
But the league didn't need a man well versed in the past; it needed someone who could project for the future. Marinatto couldn't and now, while everyone else is in line waiting to cash in on whatever football playoff system the BCS configures, the Big East is trying to redefine its very identity on the fly.
He's only the third commissioner in the conference's history. All three have had extraordinarily close ties to Providence College. Dave Gavitt was the former head coach and athletic director the Friars. Mike Tranghese was the former SID and Marinatto followed in his footsteps.
It isn't just that the Big East was always in the bag for Providence, its that the basketball schools couldn't be split until football issues drove it to the brink of ruination. How about this nugget from ESPN's Andrea Adelson (via ESPN):
The dillydallying on expansion may have ended up costing the Big East, as the league sat with nine schools for quite a long time, rather than striking quickly and boldly. Revenue distribution may have been a huge killer, as well. As Andy Katz has reported, Marinatto wanted to accept a new television deal a year ago but was shot down by a 12-4 vote, with Georgetown leading the charge not to accept.
One of the biggest stumbling points has been how the television money would be divided among the basketball and football schools. Last year, at the spring meetings in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., one proposal suggested a 75/25 split -- 75 percent of the money going to football schools, and 25 percent going to basketball schools. One athletic director at a basketball school raised his hand and wondered why the numbers were not flipped, since hoops is the reason the Big East exists in the first place.
You can imagine how well that went over in the room.
I can only imagine Steve Pederson's reaction was something like this:
That sort of split would have allowed a program like Providence to receive nearly as much revenue as West Virginia. With the enormous cost of running a football program, why even bother? Why not being a glorified mid-major program and rake in almost as much as a school that carries the added revenue risk of a football program? Insanity. Just insanity.
Obviously, the leagues problems are deeper than just Marinatto's poor management. They go back to his time as a deputy of Mike Tranghese - who apparently spends his time doing nothing but media spots on the Big East's demise. Losing Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College was a near fatal blow. That was on Tranghese's watch. Louisville, Cincinnati and USF were solid additions to the league, but Tranghese had to have known that eight football schools wasn't a workable long-term solution. But of course,
Yes, Tranghese drove the conference into a ditch, but that doesn't excuse Marinatto from lighting the wreckage on fire.
And that's not to say that everything is the fault of Tranghese and Marinatto. There's plenty of blame to go around. The basketball schools' insane demands. The football schools simply not winning enough. The general population drift from the Northeast to warmer climates. Everyone shares blame. But to let Marinatto off the hook is revisionist at best.
At the end of the day, John Marinatto was the leader of the conference. There will always be dissension in any collection of interests that have to make unified decisions. Do you think USC and Washington State have the same interests in the Pac-12? How about Purdue and Michigan? Georgia and Vanderbilt? But the job of the commissioner is to find common ground and build consensus. The failure
Marinatto took one last shot at Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia to the New York Times (via):
Marinatto also expressed his disappointment in the actions of the conference members who decided to depart in the last year.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted the things that happened in the last 36 months with realignment and how disappointing it is to find people who you trust and had relationships with suddenly become untrustworthy,” he said. “It’s discouraging and disappointing and it’s not part of what you think intercollegiate athletics or higher education is about.”
If the defectors did anything to bring about the Big East's demise, it was simply not winning enough. Blaming a school for accepting a seat on a life raft is idiotic.
In the meantime, the conference will be led by Joseph Bailey III, a former CEO of the Miami Dolphins. Hiring a Dolphins executive to run a sports organization is like hiring a Bill Belichick assistant as a head coach. What could possibly go wrong?
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