Greetings from Ponte Vedra Beach ...
I'm here just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club, where the Big East's athletic directors and football and basketball coaches are gathered for the league's annual spring meetings.
The big topic of conversation in any major conference this spring, however informal that conversation may be, is the potential Big Ten expansion and how it may affect each league, directly or indirectly. The Big East may be the conference most directly impacted by the Big Ten's decision, with football members Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse mentioned prominently as potential additions for the Big Ten, as well as Notre Dame, which is a Big East member in all sports but football.
We'll be speaking with first-year Big East commissioner John Marinatto in an hour or so, and I'll be curious to see if he has anything substantial to say. The league has hired former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a consultant this spring, but right now, the conference is likely in a wait-and-see mode, needing to be pro-active but ultimately waiting to see where the Big Ten looks to start a ripple effect across college football.
The most likely news to come from Ponte Vedra this week is likely in basketball, where the league is expected to review the current schedule for the men's tournament at Madison Square Garden. The current format -- with a double-bye for the league's top four seeds -- has resulted in a surprising number of upsets in its two seasons. As first reported by Fanhouse.com, the league will consider going to a five-day model where all 16 teams play in an opening round split over two days, with the top four teams going first to earn a day off before a standard eight-team tournament begins.
My question for such a model is this: Given the economy, if you're an out-of-town fan for a top-four team, will you get to New York for the first day to watch what should be an easy victory, then have a day with your team off, or will you simply wait and arrive on the third day? The first day of the tournament might have better pull for TV presence, but I imagine the cameras will still see empty seats in the arena.
We'll have updates from here in Ponte Vedra today and tomorrow, then will switch coasts to cover the Big East baseball tournament the rest of the week ...