Big East Extinction Is Forever - Game 15, Pittsburgh

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

In which we enter the world of extinct fauna, and discover even more depressing parallels to the demise of the Big East.

Here's something no one has ever said: "I wish we were in the same conference as FIU." Really, I do, just for today, as it would make today's Big East Extinction article so much easier to write. I'd link to the Florida Panther, laugh at them for hiring Isiah Thomas, and get on with things. But the Florida Panther wouldn't be right at all for Pittsburgh, so today's extinction story is about symbiosis.

Symbiosis is when animals of different species interact in ways that are mutually beneficial. The pollination of flowers by flying organisms is one example. Cleaner fish survive on the dead skin and micro-organisms that larger fish are happy to have removed from their bodies. Bacteria live in a cow's stomach, and assist with digestion. As you might guess, a downturn for one organism in the relationship often has negative consequences for the other.

The American Chestnut tree was once a symbol of the American northeast. It was a mass producer of timber and nuts, and played an important role in the ecosystem. In the 1900s, imported chestnuts from Asia introduced chestnut blight into North America. The American Chestnut proved highly susceptible to blight, and within a few years some 4 billion trees had been wiped out.

Which was bad news for the American Chestnut Moth. As with many symbiotic relationships between plants and insects, this particular tree and species of moth grew highly specialized to each other. When the chestnut and its plentiful nuts disappeared, the moth disappeared with it. While the trees are making a comeback, the American Chestnut Moth is lost forever.

The Big East Conference was once a symbol of the American northeast. It was a mass producer of good basketball teams, and played an important role in the BCS. In the 2000s, imported TV channels from the midwest introduced realignment into North America. The Big East proved highly susceptible to realignment, and within a few years some $4 billion of television revenue had been wiped out.

Which was bad news for the Big East. As with many symbiotic relationships between plants and insects, this particular school and conference grew highly specialized to each other. When Pittsburgh and its plentiful conference brethren disappeared, the conference disappeared with it. While Pittsburgh is making a comeback, the Big East is lost forever.

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