DOUBLETAKE: Separation of church and state schools

Matt Algarin and Andrew Metz, Double Take

Matt’s Take:

The Big East is about to become the Big Least on the basketball court.

With an abrupt announcement and vote, the presidents of the conference’s “Catholic Seven” have agreed to leave their once mighty basketball home for greener pastures.

While it’s too early to determine what this really means, I can tell you that DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova have made a huge mistake.

These presidents must be out of their minds. Somebody must have sprinkled them with some type of crazy fairy dust or something.

I know the Big East isn’t what it used to be, with members coming and going as they pleased over the past few years, but the stability is better than the uncertain future ahead of the Catholic Seven.

You don’t just jump out of a conference that has a rich basketball history like the Big East with no play on the whiteboard.

Sure, behind closed doors there is probably some plan in place to form a “basketball” focused super conference or something bizarre like that, but the presidents of these schools have shed little light into their future plans, which should make people nervous.

I just don’t know who in their right minds would be willing to leave their current conferences to join up with these delusional folks.

Seton Hall, Georgetown, St. John’s and Providence helped start the Big East, which has been playing basketball since 1979. In 1990, Villanova came on board and Marquette and DePaul in 2005.

Come June 30, 2015, the Big East will have relatively bare cabinets, for better or worse.

Andrew’s take:

This isn’t petitioning for nuns to marry. This is the protection of competitive basketball.

The “Catholic Seven” don’t have to be just like the Vatican — behind the times. There’s no doctrine saying that Catholic institutions must hold their ground if a bad situation is eminent.

But it almost happened.

The word has been out for years. Schools with football teams are going to align with conferences that make football the first priority. That’s how an athletic department makes money in 2012.

“So start a football program!”

Not so easy. How many FBS programs exist in urban areas? USC, Texas, Rice, Northwestern, Vanderbilt… Not many. Most of these small, private schools exist in northern, urban areas where land for facilities is hard to come by.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova are decades away from competing in the BCS. But they are really good at basketball.

The Big East has never had a sense of stability, so the reasoning for this decision’s delay is beyond me. “Better late than never,” right? What’s important is that the Catholic Seven now own their futures, and things are looking up.

There has been some talk of joining the Atlantic 10, and giving new meaning to the term “super conference.” But 21 teams is overkill, and I know Georgetown doesn’t want to see St. Bonaventure listed as an away game every other season.

So, now, the creation of a new conference seems to be the most popular chosen future, and I’m all for it. Add teams like Creighton, Dayton, Gonzaga, Saint Louis, Saint Mary’s and/or Xavier; and you’ve got my basketball dream conference.

I know everyone thinks the ACC will now be the best basketball conference ever assembled, but give it a few years. The Catholic Conference could send every team to the NCAA tournament in the same season.