Conference moves and Creighton

Creighton fans would miss Gregg Marshall if  the school leaves the MVC.

The MVC rode out conference realignment craziness the past 10 years without threat of depature or a serious grab at expansion. It worked out with a stable conference that generally enjoys good success in men’s basketball.

The MVC’s time may be up. While there are several steps to go, it appears the possibility of losing Creighton is real.

Here are two stories that provide the details on the Big East’s potential changes and the issues the schools are facing: The Sporting News and SI.com.

With seven basketball (all Catholic) schools ready to jump, the ripples will hit the basketball-only Atlantic 10 and, perhaps, the MVC. How many schools will the Big East 7 want to join them? If it’s three (for a 10-team conference), Creighton may be out. If it’s 12 or more, Creighton looks like a better bet. Xavier, Dayton, Butler (the only non-Catholic school on this list) and Saint Louis appear to be the candidates. What about VCU, which just ditched the CAA for the A-10?

Creighton’s administration has a lot to ponder. Ultimately, the lure of getting Marquette, Georgetown, Saint Louis, Villanova and Xavier to visit Omaha will probably be too much to turn down. Joining a conference with other prominent Catholic colleges is a dream for Bluejay fans. Moves made by Creighton the past 20 years – playing in an NBA-quality arena, paying big salaries, winning – put it in position for this moment.

  • How much does travel for all sports figure into the decision? This basketball-only conference will not rake in crazy football money. It’s different for West Virginia to fly the volleyball team to Manhattan with Big 12 money than it will be for Creighton to expand its travel. The Bluejays will go from a conference in which most members are within 6 hours or so to one in which 10 hours is a nearby rival. Issues such as this aren’t deal-breakers. If you’re a Creighton alum, be prepared to open the wallet.
  • In the MVC, Creighton’s budget, arena and tradition stand out. With the remnants of the Big East, not as much. Creighton won’t be at a disadvantage with its facilities, but it will be competing with many schools who can compete on equal footing in all areas and are, in most cases, located in bigger cities.
  • How will the separation from Syracuse, Pitt, Louisville, UConn, etc. affect the Catholic schools? That’s the big question. What level conference would Creighton join? One that could expect to send half its membership to the NCAA Tournament? Or one that slips? The trend in college athletics is not kind to private schools without football. Schools such as Xavier, Marquette and Villanova are not going to disappear from the national scene. However, their life might grow more difficult without the association with the former football schools of the Big East.
  • What does the MVC do? There is no replacement that can meet Creighton’s value. Losing that school is a major blow. It would be a mistake to rush into a decision just to stick with 10 members. It would be worse to get stuck with a school that lacks the resources to compete.