Now, it's just foolish dreaming.
They must accept reality, stop the membership process before it goes any further and start immediately exploring other options.
It's not easy, but they must come to the realization that everything they've worked toward for a decade is now crumbling around them.
The Big East is about to become the Big Deceased, and the Knights should not pay a dime – let alone millions of dollars -- to join a league that is really no better than the one they are leaving.
The Big East death knell began to chime and the funeral procession began to form as the seven Catholic, basketball-centric schools strongly considered dissolving the languishing league on Thursday. That's right, UCF could be leaving Conference USA next season to join a Big East that literally no longer exists. If the Catholic basketball schools dissolve the league, there's talk they will form a new league and even take the "Big East" name and brand with them.
That would leave UCF in a new league that might as well be named the Big Least because it has so little marketability and marquee value. This is why the Knights and other Conference USA partners who announced they would be jumping to the Big East should save themselves a lot of money, hassle and stress.
According to its C-USA exit agreement and its Big East entrance requirements, UCF might have to shell out nearly $10 million (up to a $7 million exit fee to leave C-USA and a $2.5 million initiation fee to join the so-called Big East.) In this economic climate, with universities slashing budgets, could UCF really justify spending $10 million to go from one low-profile league to another?
Granted, UCF would likely negotiate and legally wrangle its ways out of having to pay such an exorbitant sum to switch leagues, but why even bother? The only real benefit of UCF joining the Big East now is that the Knights will be in the same league as USF. Why not just have USF join Conference USA and be done with it?
Better yet, why aren't Hitt and USF President Judy Genshaft openly and publicly lobbying themselves as a package to the ACC and/or Big 12? Their athletic directors should be touring the ACC, Big 12, SEC and Big Ten offices and aggressively marketing the benefits of adding UCF and USF -- two huge state universities with monster TV markets.
It's time to accept the fact that there is no future in the Big East. Let's face it, this is not even close to the conference UCF thought it was joining. That Big East had an automatic-qualifying berth into a BCS bowl. That Big East had a lucrative television deal in the works. That Big East had a handful of decent football schools such as Louisville, West Virginia and Rutgers. That Big East had a reputation for being a great basketball league with tradition-rich programs such as Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Marquette, Louisville, etc.
The new Big East has none of that. The league has lost a combined 17 members since 2005. The automatic BCS bowl bid and the lucrative TV deal are now gone. Louisville, West Virginia and Rutgers are gone. The storied basketball tradition -- if and when the Catholic schools depart – will be soon be gone.
Not only that, but the league's two most visible programs -- Connecticut and Cincinnati -- are trying to leave, too. And does anybody really believe, Boise State, the jewel of the Big East's revamped football lineup, is going to honor its commitment to join the league next season? Seriously, why would the Broncos travel all over the country to play in a football league that includes Memphis, Tulane, Houston, SMU, Temple, East Carolina, Navy, UCF and USF?
The Big East is about to be the Big Deceased.
It's time for the UCF Knights to admit they have hitched their wagon to a dead horse.
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