RE: Realignment Timeline
Dave Gavitt was ahead of his time when it came to marketing college basketball to the Tv networks, the Big East was the first conference to land lucrative Tv deals. Considering how brillant Gavitt was, it is amazing he did not understand the future Tv value of college football, especially following the Supreme Court decision that granted schools the right to negotiate their own Tv rights in 1984. IMO, if Gavitt or Tranghese had understood the importance of football this prior to 1990, they could have created an associated Big East Football Conference. A conference that could have give all of the Eastern most major independents (Penn State, Syracuse, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, East Carolina, and Miami) a football home. This affiliation would have trumped the ACC in football (circa 1990), and likely would have survived longterm, at least until the turn of the century. The SEC expansion of 1990 would have been Arkansas and Texas A&M with South Carolina off the table, thus ending the SWC in the 1980's. A Big East football conference would have cashed in on the first major Tv deals due to their foot hold in the northeast, florida, and affiliation with Big East basketball who by 1986 landed the first lucartive Tv deals with Espn and CBS. All of the eastern independents played each other on a regular basis, so the creation of a football conference would have made since. With the creation of an affiliated Big East football conference, Big East basketball would have kept Syracuse, Boston College, and Pittsburgh, and not required ridiculous expansion in order to save the league. Big East basketball would have at worst survived the first round expansion, remaining as it was originally created to be, a power conference in college basketball.
The creation of a Big East football conference would have killed the Metro Conference. The Metro would have stood no chance of beating the Big East to the punch, due to the Metro not having a front man such as Dave Gavitt who's relationship with Tv executives gave him a decisive advantage.
The Big East football conference members (Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, South Carolina, Florida State, Miami, Louisville, and East Carolina) would have created their own basketball/olympic sport conference, possibly adding eastern/southeastern basketball rich schools such as Temple, UAB, and/ or Xavier to complete their lineup.
The Great Midwest Conference would have probably still occured if the Metro Conference would have folded due to a 1980's Big East football conference. Metro Conference casualties Cincinnati and Memphis, would have been looking for a home, and Indy's Marquette and DePaul were ready to join a conference even before the Great Midwest was ever created. If the Metro would have ended before the eventual merger with the Great Midwest (creation of C-USA), Tulane and Southern Miss may have also been included in the Great Midwest or found a temporary home in the Sun Belt. Once the SEC would have raided the SWC for Arkansass and Texas A&M, the SWC would have folded and Houston, SMU, TCU, and Rice would have joined football independents Cincinnati, Memphis, Tulane, Southern Miss, Tulsa to create a fast-forwarded C-USA to version 2.0.
The landscape of post 1980's college football would look a lot different if the Big East would have created an affiliated football conference during the 1980's The basketball-football affiliation would have created much needed basketball scheduling alliances between the basketball only and football only schools.