Per a “source”, ESPN college basketball writer Andy Katz says that Louisville is trying to remain part of the sinking ship that is the Big East. Now, by source, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say he means Rick Pitino. Yeah, Rick hasn’t exactly been hiding his feelings for his disdain of a potential conference jump. His ties throughout the northeast make our current conference a perfect fit. I thought his blog post last night was a bit delusional, especially the part about how basketball is driving this whole conference expansion thing – but this is a bit much. While reports continue to surface that Louisville is right in the heart of Big 12 expansion talks, this is surely something to take seriously. Rick Pitino definitely wields an unusual amount of power for a basketball coach and his reach and influence go far beyond just the hoops side of things. He was instrumental in making the jump to the Big East in the first place and also had a hand in jump-starting the process for building the new arena. Like it or not, his word and influence DO MATTER. If we were to stay in the Big East, I would have zero problems with the basketball side of things. That’s not the issue. You would still have Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s, Marquette, Cincinnati and West Virginia. Not exactly a cupcake walk. But there is absolutely no way that you can salvage the football side of things. Even if the Big East adds Navy and Air Force (who actually do have a better record collectively over the last 5 years than Pitt and Syracuse), the names won’t drum up the fan interest and support. As of this morning, the Marshall game tomorrow is an official sell out. That’s just the 4th time it’s happened since the renovations to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Can we honestly, with a straight face, say that Air Force and Navy can continue that trend? Or Temple, as Rick Pitino suggested? And keep in mind, those official numbers don’t guarantee that people will be present and accounted for at the game. A large number of tickets go unused at every home game. Come sit by us in section 235 if you need some proof.
This program has taken too many steps forward to all of a sudden take two huge steps back. It’s imperative that Louisville goes wherever the best opportunity exists. The UofL basketball program will always be alright. It’s a national name. Rick and his staff already recruit across the country, and conference affiliation means little in the grand scheme of things. Just ask Butler. Louisville was a national player in the Metro and in C-USA – it will remain that way no matter which conference it ends up joining.
I love you Rick, but football is driving this ship, whether you like it or not.