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The New Beasts of the Big East

Butler, Xavier and Creighton face challenges coming into the revamped Big East

Over the past three years the landscape of college athletics has drastically transformed. The SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri, The Big 10 added Rutgers and Maryland,  TCU joined the Big 12 and the Big East was more unpredictable than an episode Game of Thrones. Ultimately the Big East split into two separate conferences.  The changes to the Big East, one of college basketball’s premier conferences, will alter the recruiting landscape and the landscape of college basketball.  

 In the case of the New Big East; Butler, Xavier and Creighton have an unbelievable opportunity to cement themselves as powers within the conference and nationwide.

Switching conferences can bolster the caliber of prospects that sign letter of intent with them. Take TCU for example, college football is king at TCU not basketball and there is not a deep history of great college basketball like basketball is at a school like Kansas. In 2012, TCU left the Mountain West Conference for the much stronger Big 12 conference, this move would not only inflate TCU’s bottom line but increase the caliber of recruits that came to TCU.

 In the table below are the prospects that were recruited before and after the TCU jumped conferences.  When analyzing the table there is a visible difference in the caliber of prospects that committed to TCU before and after the switch.  


 

 

 

 

Television time and the revenue that comes from the TV deals are a pivotal reason that schools will leave their conference. Television is also big draw for recruits, more television time means they can cast a bigger net for their talents to be seen by the nation and more importantly NBA scouts. The NCAA Tournament is the ultimate stage for players to show their talents.

 In 2010 the NCAA signed a $10.8 billion dollar deal with Turner broadcasting to host the NCAA Tournament games.  The signed deal is lucrative for the NCAA and also benefits the coaches and players who are fortunate enough to get into the tournament, like former FGCU coach Andy Enfield and guard Sherwood Brown. FGCU’s magical tourney run put the program and those two in the limelight.  All Data found per rivals.com

Sherwood Brown, who was previously unknown, was able to work out for NBA teams, Coach Enfield left FGCU for a higher paying gig at USC and every college basketball fan knows all about Dunk City and FGCU.  

Not every team is blessed with a great tournament run to gain national attention. For the teams that aren’t so fortunate switching conferences to get increased television time, money and reach a new bevy of recruiting options has been the popular method.  The “New” Big East has signed a $500 million dollar plus deal with FOX Sports Network to televise Big East basketball games. This deal will increase the amount of television revenue that the Big East members will receive on a yearly basis.The effects are more than just monetary; the new conference opens doors of recruiting for some programs that were not easily accessible earlier.  Butler, Xavier and Creighton will now be getting exposure along the east coast in recruiting hotbeds like New York, Philadelphia and DC.

Butler, Xavier and Creighton have not been able to properly recruit players from Philly, NY and DC, partially because they don’t have a large appeal on the east coast.  The three schools only have 1 player from the any of the basketball hotbeds before mentioned on any their rosters (Xavier Forward Chris Cantino). Compare that to the two players from NYC that play for former Big East School Cincinnati. Butler, Xavier and Creighton are just as successful as a program as Cincinnati, nor are any of the coaches any worse than Cincinnati’s. However, Nati is able to recruit these prospects because they have a presence in these areas.

The move to the Big East opens up those recruiting hotbeds. Coach Stevens, Coach Greg McDermott and Coach Chris Mack now have access to NY, Philly and DC players through St. Johns, Villanova, and Georgetown respectively. They will also be able to showcase their talents at Madison Square Garden, the mecca of college basketball, during the Big East Tournament.

The coaches can now pitch going to the Midwest and playing for NCAA Tournament teams to the players from the metropolitan areas; while still have games close to home so that family and friends can see them play.  For Butler, this move and access to new recruits could make them an elite program. 

Coach Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs have been bridesmaids but never a bride. They have reached the pinnacle of college basketball twice only to fall inches short

That being said, Stevens lead Butler as far as he has without signing blue chip prospects. Stevens recruited unheralded three Star prospects and through the development of the recruits like Gordon Heyward, Shelvin Mack and Andrew Smith the program has seen success.  Xavier and Creighton have had some the same success with unheralded recruits like David West and Doug McDermott.

Xavier, Butler and Creighton have all the older members of the Big East watching them very closely. If Coach Mack, McDermott and Stevens are able to steal some recruits from DC, NY or Philly, the rest of the Big East could be in a lot of trouble.

The Big East is not the only conference that should be watching closely. If Coach Stevens and company can recruit effectively in those cities, the rest of the NCAA should be on alert because the Butler, Xavier and Creighton will be forging their way to becoming elite programs.