Please enjoy this incongruous picture of Rocky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
There's plenty of blame to go around for John Marinatto's resignation. Although I think Marinatto's reactiveness and extreme naivete belongs at the top of the list, lots of people deserve their share. There were opportunities to shore up the league membership and make everyone happy, but none of them were taken. Then after Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia got tired of waiting around and found their escape routes, the league was forced to pull up a bunch of replacements and try and reassemble itself as some pell-mell, not-quite-major football league while everyone pointed and laughed at them.
But guess who's got it all sorted out? Brett McMurphy, of course! We haven't talked much about the former USF beat writer here. We've gone over his long history of half-true hit pieces on USF athletics and his personal vendetta against Jim Leavitt only one time, and we haven't really mentioned it since because it's cheap and whiny to bring it up out of context. However, when he finds some unnamed "industry source" (which could be literally anyone working in college sports, or any journalist, or anyone with an ax to grind) to blame USF president Judy Genshaft for letting things go to crap... well, it's in context now.
With conference realignment sweeping the country, Marinatto still was able to convince TCU in November of 2010 to join the Big East, to help bolster an inconsistent football league. People mocked a Texas team joining the Big East, but it gave the league a solid football addition. That would have given the Big East nine football members in 2012. There was even speculation the Big East might be able to attract an ACC school to join the Big East, which was in the midst of negotiating a huge upcoming media rights deal.
"At that point when the Big East was intact, the only school the Big East could have legitimately added that made sense was UCF," an industry source said. "Maryland and Boston College? They wouldn't even return the Big East's calls. But the Big East couldn't add UCF because [South Florida president] Judy Genshaft kept shooting down UCF."
Genshaft's continuing insistence to block UCF from the league was a huge contributing factor which ultimately led to the league's current instability, a league source said.
Yeah, I'm sure that was the only thing that destabilized the Big East, assuming that's even true, and assuming that Genshaft wouldn't have been outvoted if it ever got to that point. (I'm sure the basketball schools weren't too keen on adding UCF, either. They weren't showing up just to play football, it would have been all sports then as it is now. Basically, if the league as it stood then really wanted UCF, they could have had them no matter what Genshaft tried to do to stop them.) What about Marinatto's brilliant plan to try and move Villanova up to FBS? That wasted six or seven months all by itself. What about, I don't know, maybe getting aggressive and trying to tear apart the Big XII in the middle of their 2010 existential crisis? Instead, Marinatto sent the Big XII office flowers after they settled their differences, because he was more worried about losing teams than trying to gain them. What a nice guy!
And what about his three-year failure to explain how the modern world works to the basketball schools? Andrea Adelson's piece on ESPN.com had a horrifying tidbit that tells you everything you need to know about this cockamamie setup in one paragraph:
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.
Holy cow. If we're still using Providence Mafia jokes, that guy is definitely Fredo.
Like I said at the beginning, there's a lot of blame to go around, but isn't it interesting Genshaft is the only person mentioned by name in McMurphy's column? No one wanted to mention Oliver Luck? Steve Pederson? Tim Pernetti? Even off the record? And I don't even think they were necessarily doing anything wrong, but if you're just talking about "instability", then they all did their parts, too. Let's not just find some anonymous "industry source" to throw Judy under the bus and call it a day, like in so many of McMurphy's classic (and ultimately untrue) USF smear jobs in the past.