Worst hand, badly played.
A Big East split has been expected for some time along football lines. But Big East football members didn't like the looks of a future together, even with television networks dangling millions in front of them.
What are the local ramifications? They look significant, affecting most of the Big Five schools. If Big East football in its current configuration called Villanova today and offered an invite, they'd presumably get a "not so fast" from a school that just lost to Monmouth. How can Villanova show interest in a league without a TV deal, with half its teams fleeing or hoping to?
The call isn't likely anyway. The splintering will continue. Look for Connecticut to join the ACC. Rutgers certainly will hope to make the same move, and West Virginia would crawl down to the Southeastern Conference or ACC. (We heard Sunday that the ACC is holding one spot for Notre Dame in case the Irish are ready to join a league, with the Big Ten the other ongoing Irish suitor.) Since Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech reportedly are headed to the Pac-12, the remaining Big East teams are likely to join up with remaining Big Twelve teams - the Big Leftover. If any of the leftovers such as Missouri and Kansas can find a home in the Big Ten, SEC, or ACC, they'll take it.
It is unclear when Pitt and Syracuse will begin competing in the ACC. The Big East's exit fee is $5 million, and schools wanting to leave must provide 27 months' notice.
Villanova's most obvious basketball move would be to stay with some natural allies and rivals in an all- or mostly-Catholic league, with schools that don't play I-A football. So UConn and Pitt and Syracuse and Louisville all would be off the league schedule, meaning a lot of money will leave Villanova's coffers. A lot of excitement will leave, too. The current Big East is the best hoops league in the country. The next incarnation might be fifth, fourth at best.
The Atlantic Ten could be heavily impacted. A Big East with Georgetown, Villanova, St. John's, Marquette, and other powers presumably would be more attractive to Xavier and Dayton. The A-10 prepared for that possibility when it took in St. Louis, Richmond, and Charlotte. But losing the Ohio schools would be a huge hit. All of a sudden, the ACC would be up and down the East Coast, and the Big East would be the No. 2 Eastern hoops league. The A-10 couldn't lay claim to being more than a mid-major.
Are there rabbits in any hats? Could Villanova or Temple, for instance, land in the ACC? I was told this weekend that Villanova's name came up on a long list of possible ACC additions, but nobody should read too much into it. Everybody is talking about everything, coming up with lists of backups to the backups.
Would Villanova or Temple want to get into a football league with Louisville, Texas Christian, Cincinnati, South Florida, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa State, and Baylor? The potential television revenue would have to be real strong for 'Nova to even look at moving up, and what kind of hoops league is that for the Wildcats? Strong at the top with Kansas and Louisville but with no (as in zero) traditional rivals.
Also, this league wouldn't be looking at Villanova as an existing member, as the current Big East does, so taking 'Nova is no slam dunk. It also would be a league where every member would have one eye out the window, looking for a better spot.
That league might make more sense for Temple since it already is committed to top-level football and would consider the television revenue from such a league a considerable upgrade from the Mid-American Conference.
We don't have the answers, but the dominoes are falling fast now, and they'll get to town soon enough.
Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489, email@example.com, or @jensenoffcampus on Twitter. Read his "Off Campus" columns at philly.com/offcampus.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.