The picture really sums up the entire thing, doesn't it? (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
He Can't Leave Until 2014, Though: As first reported by Brett McMurphy of CBS, John Marinatto is out, forced to resign his position as Big East commissioner by the league presidents. There are countless potential arguments to be made on either side of the issue; the obvious pratfalls marring Marinatto's term certainly paint him in a disturbingly Beebe-ish light, while Mark Ennis of SBN's Big East Coast Bias took to Twitter this morning to half-heartedly put forth the position that the job was a doomed proposition anyway and there was nothing more Marinatto could do.
Mark's points are all valid; the Big East was in trouble, and has been, since the day Virginia Tech and Miami walked out the door, and the divide between the basketball schools (primarily the old-line Catholic schools) and the football schools has been there ever since the conference began sponsoring football. Notre Dame's unique position has always been a source of internal instability, and once the real national title contenders in football ducked out the back entrance the writing's been on the wall. The Big East was poised, if not doomed, to slip to second-tier status in football the moment the ACC turned its eyes in their direction.
Still, one cannot disregard Marinatto's own farcical stumbles. On a national level, the first real portent was Marinatto's clueless response to the announced departures of Pitt and Syracuse, wherein it became clear that he was completely and utterly blindsided by their decision. Say what you will about Dan Beebe, but at least he knew all the Big 12 expatriates were looking for the emergency exit. Then TCU, a school which hadn't even joined the conference yet, said "Ah, thanks but no thanks". Marinatto can't be blamed for that, but his reaction at the time seemed to border on panic. He followed that with the PR disaster of the West Virginia announcement, stubbornly insisting that West By God Virginia was going to By God stay in the Big East until 2014 and that money wasn't going to change anything... until, in the end, money changed everything. One also can't forget the hilarity of Marinatto insisting that the remaining schools were committed to staying together and making things work on the very same morning that UConn's administration issued a public statement which essentially boiled down to "yeah, we're looking out for ourselves here". Louisville publicly wanted out. Rutgers was desperately trying to back-channel an exit in full view of the press.
Ultimately, Marinatto does have to be credited for his work in saving the conference as a football entity, which is more than can be said for the WAC. Even there, however, his actions were subject to ridicule as every pundit and crank on the planet is still milking "Boise State and San Diego State in the Big EAST, hyuk hyuk" for all it's worth, and even those two additions aren't exactly stable. Reaching out to gather Temple back into the loving arms of the conference which just a few short years ago threw them out -- only the second time in the last fifty years that fate has befallen a program -- was also a lightning rod for comedy. All of these things, more than anything else, probably doomed Marinatto's position, as the one thing above all others a conference requires is credibility... and being the butt of jokes sort of runs counter to that.
Since the Big 12 didn't hire him, here's hoping the Big East snatches up the estimable Greg Shaheen as their permanent hire.
Meanwhile, Out in the Rockies: Idaho's seriously considering a drop back down to FCS, and it appears that even though they're bursting at the seams, the Big Sky's making an active attempt to convince them it's a good idea.
Maybe Lessons Were Learned: Nebraska assistant will not be participating in a hearing regarding anti-discrimination in Lincoln similar to the one he spoke at in Omaha., previously pilloried here and elsewhere,
Redbirds Moving On: Illinois State has promoted assistant Rob Judson to the head coaching position, replacing the departed Tim Jankovich.
Diablerie: Notre Dame is engaging in footwear silliness. Montee Ball got himself arrested for trespassing at a block party. Kameel Jackson announced he was bolting Norman for College Station, except nobody seems to have informed Texas A&M, so hilarity may ensue. Meet Michigan State's newest student assistant, Andre Rison.