The thing about hitting the bottom of the barrel is that you actually have to hit the bottom of the barrel and it seems like finally, maybe, UConn may have done just that, because the basketball schools have decided to leave the Big East:
The Big East's seven non-football-playing members have decided to separate from the league's football-playing members and would like to announce the decision within a week barring an unexpected change of plans, multiple sources within the conference told CBSSports.com on Thursday.
The decision may not be announced today (although the New York Post says it will be) but it's coming soon, and with it will come a lot of questions for UConn.
First of all, the departure itself is going to be an incredibly complex process with a lot of moving pieces (this Pete Thamel piece is a good breakdown). Who gets what money? Where do the old exit fees go? What about the old NCAA tournament money? Who gets to keep the brand name Big East? What happens to the tournament at Madison Square Garden? Does MSG still want it? No matter how much this may have been planned for in the past, it's going to be a total mess now.
But that's the conference, what does this mean for UConn? That's not clear, but it's nothing good. The scenario fans might want the most is UConn finding a way to stay with the Catholic schools while finding another home for football (MACtion anyone?), but I have a really hard time seeing that happen. Why would the Catholic schools invite along UConn knowing the Huskies would split at their first opportunity? This entire move is about avoiding instability and football, not inviting in more of it. So then where does UConn go? There are still twelve teams that thought they were going to play Big East football next year, will that group hold together? It seems at least possible that someone like the Mountain West could try to peel off the western half of the league. What would happen then? Could UConn go independent in football? I doubt it -- the Huskies couldn't even schedule non-conference games for 2014 when they had a conference, now they'd have to put together 12 of them? Forget it.
It's a giant, shifting landscape filled with questions right now and it's not clear that there are any good answers for UConn. The school's best bet is hoping for more instability in the power conferences, which might finally put UConn at the top of someone's list, but that's not a guarantee and there's no timeframe for when or if it could happen. So right now UConn's in limbo, and it doesn't feel very good. Let's just hope that this is finally the bottom of the barrel, so we can get started on climbing up.