With yesterday's news that the Big East was actually considering adding Army and Navy, it's clear that the conference is on its last legs. Because that might be the dumbest damn idea we've ever heard outside of trying to bring in an independent from thousands of miles away... wait, what's that? BYU? Really?? OH JESUS, JUST SPLIT IT UP ALREADY!!
So just like how newspapers often write the obituaries of people before they pass on so they're prepared when it happens, today we begin the first of a series of posts preparing for the eminent eulogizing of our soon-to-be fallen Big East brethren. First up: DePaul.
DePaul University (2005-Soon)
DePaul University was added to the Big East Conference in 2005 to help the reach of the league extend to Chicago, the nation’s third largest television market. In that role, they failed more miserably than even the 1919 Chicago White Sox, who lost games on purpose. With an apathy not seen in the area since Jay Cutler in the NFC Championship, the citizens of That Toddlin' Town repeatedly showed how they couldn’t possibly care less about the Blue Demons. Chicago sports fans often called ESPN 1000 The Loop to discuss DePaul, but usually in the context of "I saw Derrick Rose working out in their rec center," or "maybe the Chicago Fire can use Wish Field for practice."
Without a football team to its name, DePaul had nothing to call on but its past glory in men's basketball. The school that once gave basketball Ray Meyer, George Mikan, Quentin Richardson, and a logo of a devil sitting on a toilet won a grand total of 22 regular season conference games while a member. In their last three seasons, they won exactly two Big East games. And lost 52. Seriously. That happened. Their recent acquisition of Oliver Purnell to coach the team came far too late, as the #BootDePaul meme on Twitter reached heights aspired to by #SMH and #WINNING.
DePaul’s major highlights (such as they were) included their women’s basketball program, helmed by legendary coach Doug Bruno. His teams made 19 postseason appearances in the 25 years, including most recently a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. Friends said Bruno still wonders how basketball vagabond Jerry Wainwright staring at the court with a hangdog look was better than any coaching he could provide. Recently softball coach Eugene Lenti, brother of athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto, added some dramatic spice to the Blue Demons by threatening to bean a USF third baseman.Looking back, though, it was a clear sign that DePaul's time as a member of a major conference was short -- their most vivid Big East memory involved a softball forfeit.
DePaul Athletics is survived by the Horizon League, where they can compete with Chicago-area teams like Illinois-Chicago and Loyola while local neighbors in Lincoln Park continue to occasionally stop by to watch them play... or possibly ask them to keep the noise down after dark in their quiet residential neighborhood.