Pitino’s alignment would be good for Big East

Rick Pitino may have provided a solution for easing the way to what many analysts consider an inevitable breakup of the Big East Conference, in which the football schools would separate from the non-footballers to create separate entities.

In his latest blog post, the University of Louisville coach suggests dividing basketball into two divisions. One would include Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Cincinnati, TCU, Rutgers, UConn and South Florida. The other division would consist of Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s, DePaul, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence and Notre Dame.

The division suggestion would eliminate the abitrary nature of the current scheduling process. Someone in Providence deciding which teams will play each other twice during the season, based on some undefined criteria.

The scheduling process has never been balanced, whether a team has a good outlook or a bad one. I’ve always wondered why the conference would be making that judgement anyway.

Equally important, Pitino’s proposed new scheduling lineup acknowledges that there are major differences between the schools in their overall goals and aspirations. The existing conference will never realize its potential as long as football, the No. 1 sport in college athletics, takes a back seat to basketball.

Big East overlooks Louisville-Cincinnati rivalry again

Odd how the Big East Conference recognizes a rivalry between some older members of the conference and ignores one that was in existence long before before the league was conceived.

The conference announced the schedule of 2011-12 basketball opponents Thursday and, as usual, Pittsburgh and West Virginia will be playing twice.

Or as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette put it, they “‘play home and away every season because of their long-standing rivalry. The other home-and-away opponents are determined by “natural interest, geography, television contractual obligations and competitive balance.'”

Nice little rivalry, maybe, but not that much better than the University of Louisville-Cincinnati relationship which includes 94 games since 1921. Pitt and WVU have played 103 times since they first clashed in basketball in 1895.

One has to wonder how many years the initiation period is for newcomers to the league.

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Those two-game opponents for U of L next season include Pittsburgh, Syracuse and DePaul, at home and away.

Other home opponents include UConn, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Rutgers, USF, and Villanova.

Road games against Cincinnati, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and West Virginia.

Rewriting Louisville attendance records

They raised the money, they built, they expanded, and the people came.

First came the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium this past season. The University of Louisville football team attracted an average of 50,648 fans for seven games, an increase of more than 18,000 fans per game over the previous season.

The men’s basketball team attracted a record total of 458,463 fans during the inaugural season of the KFC Yum! Center, averaging 21,823 fans per game. Attendance surpassed the 22,000 mark eight times. Louisville is third behind Kentucky and Syracuse, with average attendance numbers of 23,603 and 22,052, respectively

U of L also established a new school attendance record for women’s basketball at the new arena with an average of 10,859 fans per event. Games against Tennessee and Kentucky also attracted more than 22,000.

The Lady Cards were second attendance only to the University of Tennessee, which attracted 13,078 per game. UConn was third, attracting 10,192 per game.