Jurich should entertain job offer from Texas

Things aren’t going well for the mighty University of Texas and boosters may be on the verge of cleaning house. Some reports indicate that the jobs of the athletic director and the football, basketball and baseball coaches are all on the line.

When the Longhorns aren’t doing well in football (1-2 after three games this season and 2-4 in the last six games), the Texas power brokers aren’t happy. They’re upset and angry that they’re not dominating every team in sight, hungry for blood.Tom-Jurich-Happy

Forgive us if we gloat. But Texas, remember, is the school with the athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, who dangled the possibility of an invitation to the Big 12 Conference in the face of the University of Louisville for months. Encouraged, teased and all but invited UofL but never delivered in the end.  Choosing West Virginia University over UofL.

Next to hiring Tom Jurich as its athletic director, the snub may have turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Louisville, which is becoming  a full-fledged member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. If the Big Ten hadn’t plucked Maryland from the ACC, Louisville athletics would be mired in Never Never Land.

Imagine a school just having won an NCAA championship in basketball, a BCS bowl in football, and a College World Series appearance in baseball, as well as a national runner-up in women’s basketball still on the outside looking in. Texas wasn’t going to allow the Big XII to expand unless it could get Notre Dame, then maybe, just maybe, Louisville.

So it’s comical that Dodds is denying reports that he has been asked to step aside after three decades and assume a consulting role. The vast empire he built could be turning its back on him, kicking him upstairs to an advisory position. What’s really ironic, however, is that the leading candidates to succeed are said to be Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Florida AD Jeremy Foley and UofL’s Tom Jurich.

Jurich has said he gets letters all the time about possible jobs, adding that he doesn’t look at them because he’s so happy at Louisville.

Just for fun, however, TJ might want to entertain an offer from Texas. Leak word to the media about the offer,  whisper that he is interested in the job to some insiders in Louisville and Texas d. Leave them hanging, just long enough to everyone conclude that he’s gone. Schedule a press conference to make the big announcement.

Shocking the disbelieving Texans, he announces that he’s staying at the University of Louisville, reaffirming that he already has the best AD job in America, that he still has things he wants to accomplish here.  He wouldn’t be proving anything at Texas anyway, just building on another person’s legacy while constantly dealing with some massive and insatiable egos.

Louisville over Texas. That would be delivering a large dose of humble pie for the Lone Star State, and still another incredible boost for the program that Jurich built.

Big East Catholic schools rush to exit

Moving at record speed for a group of academic institutions, seven Catholic basketball schools have agreed to leave the Big East, according to a report from ESPN. They first discussed the possibility with Commissioner Mike Aresco on Sunday.

DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova have finally seen the folly of mixing football and basketball-focused schools and may form still another conference. Pundits are already describing the new creation as the Big Priest Conference.

They may have to wait a while, however, because the Big East may have a case for requiring them to pay exit fees and requiring them to wait 27 months under league by-laws. Apparently the announced departure of the University of Louisville to the ACC and Rutgers University to the Big Ten was the final straw for the schools.

Don’t expect their plans to ease the way for an early departure of UofL to the ACC. An Coxey’s Army of lawyers is already involved, and the football schools in the Big East have the Catholic schools outnumbered 12 to 7.

Conference realignment continues to take some unpredictable turns.



The Big East going nowhere fast

A real shame what’s happening to the Big East Conference.

Mike Aresco, the new commissioner, has inherited an impossible situation.

The schools with football programs should have walked away from the conference years ago, adding to their ranks schools with similar ambitions. Now they’re faced with the possibility that that basketball schools will join another conference, leaving the football schools to deal with a configuration which, at best, is chaotic.big-east

The seven Catholic universities — Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence, St. John’s and DePaul — met with Aresco Sunday to discuss their limited options. They’re seriously considering hooking up with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Sticking with around the Big East, in its present form, is the other alternative.

Seemingly no one outside the league wanted the conference to remain viable. Certainly not ESPN, which sicked its analysts on the Big East about five years ago, downplaying Big East football at every turn. Not the Atlantic Coast Conference, which began plucking football schools eight years ago. The Big Ten and the Big 12 were creating ripples with their raids, each of them having a directly or indirectly impacting the Big East.

One of the things keeping the league together may be all the exit fees coming the football schools leaving the league, $21 million from West Virginia and $10 million each from Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Notre Dame. Then there are the NCAA basketball tournament shares, due to the success of the league in recent years, and the league’s contract with Madison Square Garden.

If the seven basketball-focused schools leave to join another conference, they may forfeit their claims to all that money. That would leave UConn, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Tulane, Boise State and San Diego State, Temple, Tulane, South Florida, Memphis and East Carolina, but with UConn, Cincinnati and USF still looking for quick exits.

Frankly, we don’t see the schools coming up with a strategic plan that everyone can agree upon, especially with the TV rights in limbo and the conference money still in play. The Big East is going to be around for a few years, with all its flaws, shortcomings and disappointed members.

No slowing down for Tom Jurich after ACC invite

Tom Jurich looked very much like an individual who still had some things to accomplish, and couldn’t wait to get through the press conference Wednesday on the University of Louisville’s acceptance of an invitation to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“On Monday we’re going to get all of our staff together, including all the coaches, and we’re going to self-scout,” he said. “We’re going to look at each program inside and out and ask ourselves what do we need to do to get better. How do we get better? I’m a big proponent of looking in the mirror and qualifying ourselves. We know we can get better in every single program, and we’re going to figure a way to do it.”

There were also brief glimpses of an individual who has been under intense pressure since Maryland announced it was leaving the ACC for the Big Ten. Occasionally there were glimpses of droopy eye lids, Jurich admitting only after he was asked that he hadn’t slept much over the last 11 days.

“I felt at times like I had the burden of the entire community on my shoulders,” he said. “I knew people were counting on me to come through and I didn’t want to let them down.”

Jurich and his boss, Jim Ramsey, were largely a two-man show during the process. “We had to do this very close to the vest. There’s so much high quality information that can get out there that we had to do this on our own.”

Harkening back to the Big 12 conference realignment last year, Jurich said the Big 12 had already pretty much decided on West Virginia. “We were able to make some presentations that got us in the discussions. I have no regrets over how that turned out. We gave it our best shot.”

Ramsey said the key to UofL’s success was building on the university’s academic and athletic success. “Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort over a number of years. It reflects on the work that Tom has done for 15 years to build excellence in all that we do in the athletic program at the University of Louisville.

“We always said that first and foremost is the academic success of our student athletes and be committed to doing things the right way with the highest level of integrity and playing by the rules, including financial integrity in building the strength of our athletic program over time and excellence in all sports.

“Because of Tom’s leadership and because we have met and exceeded all these objectives, we have been given this opportunity to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.”

All’s fair in love and conference realignment

Settle down. This is going to take a while longer.

The one sure thing about conference realignment is nothing is certain until announced. What appears inevitable one minute can be out of the question in less than five minutes.

The Big Ten move to pluck Rutgers from the Big East and Maryland from the Atlantic Coast Conference this week has shaken the conference realignment landscape to the core.  The peace has been shattered, it’s every conference and school for themselves.

The debate over Louisville and UConn may have suddenly taken a back seat in some circles to whether the ACC will even survive.  The Big Ten, the Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference may be preparing for an all-out raid of another basketball centric conference.

The speed with the ACC could be totally devastated would make what happened to the Big East over several years akin to a merciful and honorable goodbye. If an school is good in basketball, it had better be damned good in football if it is to survive the aftermath.

My guess is Louisville’s future is back on hold. With visions of mega million payouts, the conference commissioners and college presidents are scheming around the clock to out-scheme each other. Any handshakes, promises and agreements up to now could be meaningless.

The end game appears to be four football super conferences, consisting of 64 teams as someone suggested about four years ago. Whether 64 will be the right number will only be decided when the destination appears within reach.