The Super-Conferences Affect On College Hoops, Geographic Rivalries

We are starting to hear from some of the prominent college basketball coaches in regards to the new “super-conference model”. The whole idea of these super conferences is centered around football. While often times football and basketball walk in lockstep, being the two revenue producing collegiate sports, this time hoops programs are going to be onlookers just like the other sports.

Yesterday Rick Pitino decided to take to his website to demonstrate his opinion on this matter. In Pitino’s blog post, titled “RED ALERT!!!”, Rick decided to take a shot at one of the schools which jumped from the Big East to the ACC in 2004:

Who could imagine Syracuse, a charter member leaving the BIG EAST?  Didn’t they check Boston College’s championship totals since leaving the BIG EAST — one, in soccer in 2005.

It sounds like Pitino doesn’t want to end up back in Conference USA. He is clearly not happy that the Big East basketball juggernaut is now at risk. Losing BC was nothing, that’s not the target of Pitino’s anger. Pitino hates to see a good situation ruined, and losing ‘Cuse and Pitt is step one of a disaster scenario.

Today we have Jim Boeheim taking his thoughts to the media. When asked about the prospect of moving the ACC tournament to Madison Square Garden, Coach Boeheim had this to say:

Where would you want to go to to a tournament for five days? Let’s see: Greensboro, North Carolina, or New York City? Jeez. Let me think about that one and get back to you.

He is stating what any northerner knows; when pitting NYC against any southern ACC city, there is no contest. Moreover, on the whole, the ACC can offer nothing for a basketball program that the Big East can’t match or exceed.

So, why?

Boeheim comes right out and admits that there are two reasons for ‘Cuse and Pitt to move from the Big East to the ACC. We already know both of them. No, one of those reasons is not basketball. The two reasons are, in his words, “money and football.”


Unfortunately the days of the 10-team conferences based on geography and rivalries is coming to an end. It’s sad on a lot of levels. Boeheim, who has been at Syracuse as a player and coach for about 50 years, feels the same way.

Geography has little affect on football; teams travel once a week. However, in basketball, that is not the case. There will be a far greater affect on sports such as basketball an the non-revenue generating sports. In the end, when all is said and done, there is probably an argument to be made that most schools will not see a positive net increase when looking at revenues and expenses.

On the field, the teams that are forces to travel great distances could suffer. This coming season the TCU Horned Frogs basketball team is scheduled to play in the continental United States east of the Mississippi River exactly zero times. Next season when the team begins Big East play (assuming there is a Big East) the team will likely play 1/3 of their games up and down the east coast.

Fort Worth to New York City is about 3,000 miles round trip. Recruiting to the Big East is often easier than recruiting to the Mountain West. However, doesn’t that advantage get mitigated when the conferences headquarters (and thus a large portion of the games) are centered nearly 1,500 miles away?

The logistics will be talked about more and more as these moves are made. For now, the real sadness is the potential loss of some great rivalries. No more ‘Cuse and G’Town. No more Pitt and West Virginia. For college basketball coaches, it’s about to become a whole new super world out there.