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What's next for the Big East?

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, left, talks with Kris

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, left, talks with Kris Joseph (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against St. John's. (Jan. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

The New York Times’ report of Pittsburgh and Syracuse talking to the ACC about switching conferences probably sent chills down the spine of Big East commissioner John Marinatto.

Big East football looked like it might actually come out of this latest round of conference musical chairs ok after getting TCU to join the league. All that work could be all for naught if the Panthers and Orange decide to bolt. The league would be down to eight teams for the 2012 season. .

What about Big East basketball? What happens if Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave? The conference came out swinging after Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami left for the ACC and actually got stronger, adding Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, South Florida and DePaul.

If there is a defection, even money says Big East basketball will survive. How will it survive? It will do what every other conference does and raid another league. So while it’ll be tough saying good bye to Pittsburgh and Syracuse, it will be easy to say hello to perennial post-season basketball programs like Xavier, Richmond, Rhode Island or maybe even Temple.

Who knows? Delaware and perhaps Hofstra could be on the short list for the Big East. Stony Brook wouldn’t merit consideration for the Big East in either sport yet, but the potential ripple effect created by the defection of Pittsburgh and Syracuse could open the door to the CAA or even the Atlantic 10 for the Seawolves.

Considering what Steve Pikiell has done with the program, it’s not a crazy thought.

Stony Brook, a state school with a large enrollment, sits right smack-dab in the middle of one of the most affluent regions in the country. The Seawolves would be a welcomed addition to either the CAA or Atlantic-10.

Stony Brook football has thrived since becoming a scholarship operation and has proved over the last few years it can play with CAA schools.

Hofstra being invited to the Big East for basketball isn’t such a far-fetched idea either. Jay Wright, Tom Pecora and current coach Mo Cassara have done yeoman’s work in attracting New York Tri-state prep players to the school. The school’s recent run of 20-win seasons, which were spearheaded by the outstanding careers of Speedy Claxton, Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio, Norman Richardson and Charles Jenknis, is further proof that the Pride could eventually compete with the big boys.

If there's one guarantee, it’s that The Big East won’t be caught without a chair when the music stops. It’s likely that the league bosses have already put together a list of candidates to counteract a mass exodus. If Pittsburgh and Syracuse leave, West Virginia might not be far behind. Connecticut and Louisville could also be within the Big Ten, ACC or SEC reach if either of those conferences decides to expand to 16 teams.

The next few years are going to be wild.


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