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John Marinatto
The ex-Big East Commissioner’s name came up on the AAC board and I was shocked that he was almost universally reviled by the AAC crowd so I was interested in what the realignmentology crowd thought about his July 1, 2009 - May 7, 2012 tenure at the helm.

Personally, I think he did the best he could with the circumstances presented.

He had to deal with 2 competing factions and had very little room for expansion to help improve the football side since his 16 team conference was home to 8 schools who didn’t field conference football teams. He gets criticized for not adding media value to the league but how was he supposed to do it without a football tent pole?

Let’s look at what he did do:

He had the Big East positioned to land Kansas, Iowa St, Kansas St, and Missouri had the PAC 16 deal come to fruition

He added TCU as a full member

He worked to bring Villanova to FCS—the AAC crowd was highly critical of this move but I see a lot of wisdom in this move. He was trying to create a bridge between football and basketball. Had Villanova moved up, many of those 8-8 tie votes would have turned into 10-7 votes (TCU being the other additional football first vote). Villanova, like Syracuse, UConn and Pitt, would have been been conscientious of the need to preserve basketball while improving football.

He brought in Houston, SMU, and UCF as full members and Boise St and San Diego St as football affiliates.

He added Navy as a football affiliate.

He added Memphis as a full member.

He added Temple as a full member and got their football team in in time to fill the void WVU left in the schedule.

Yes, Pitt, Syracuse, WVU, and TCU all left on his watch but can you really fault him for it? They all left for conferences where they could make vastly more money.

Aresco gets praised as the great savior of the AAC but it was Marinatto who recruited the schools that made up the back bone of the conference and have been the shining success stories.

What’s your personal take on Marinatto?
02-08-2021 05:50 PM
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Post: #2
RE: John Marinatto
Worst commissioner ever.

Villanova was the straw that broke the camel's back. They were trying to do FBS on the cheap. And then he was apparently pushing Navy which guaranteed the Big East would not be considered a power conference. He alienated the football schools and the basketball schools.
02-08-2021 06:18 PM
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Post: #3
RE: John Marinatto
Villanova was never serious about FBS. They wanted to be wooed and keep their preeminence in the Philly market.

Although they actually were the correct moves, adding TCU and Temple were too late to save the conference. Commissioners need to add schools prior to negotiating their media deals.
02-08-2021 07:05 PM
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RE: John Marinatto
Marinatto was a former Providence AD, so he always provided a valuable voice to the non-football schools; however, up until he was asked to resign, he began challenging the basketball schools to look in the mirror and questioned their reluctance to add football-first members. He will always be remembered as the Commissioner that oversaw Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia depart (in addition to TCU, who was going to be a full-member). The issue at this time was that the C8 (w/ Notre Dame) did feel that it lost an ally, and the Presidents continued to believe that they could still get a lucrative TV deal (which could not have been further from the truth, after turning down ESPN). The only reason that the basketball schools did not break off before then (in May, 2012) was because both the Presidents and, later, Aresco, sold the wrong belief about the Big East being able to recoup all of the lost value by adding media markets (not necessarily brands/programs). The idea that Orlando, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, and Memphis would, collectively, replace the brands of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia was so wrong then, and even more so now, it is laughable. After Louisville and Rutgers left (in addition to Notre Dame), it was clear that the vision being sold did not only not have any substance, but the new TV deal was drastically lower than what the Presidents and Aresco had been pitching. The C7 already had one foot out the door before, and the Fox offer/interest sealed the deal.

I credit Marinatto with the creative addition of TCU and the potential backup of back-filling with Big 12-remnants (which never worked, obviously). I think he deserves criticism for overseeing Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia all leaving (in addition to TCU) under his watch, as well the attempt of completely killing the basketball side in order to preserve football (which Aresco took to a whole new level with the additions of Tulane and ECU).

No matter who the commissioner of the Big East was at this time, that person was doomed to oversee a split. It's a miracle Tranghese held the group together as long as he did, especially after Boston College left in 2003.
02-08-2021 07:08 PM
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Post: #5
RE: John Marinatto
The football presidents trusted Gavitt, tolerated Tranghese, and ignored Marinatto.
02-08-2021 08:22 PM
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RE: John Marinatto
The Big East had the lowest payouts of all of the BCS leagues; it was inevitable that if any of their members received an invite to another league that they’d be gone in a heartbeat.
02-08-2021 08:52 PM
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RE: John Marinatto
There were a handful of all-sports athletic programs with histories/locations/fan bases/name recognition, etc. that would have made decent sense for the Big East had the five all-sports programs at the time — Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, USF and Rutgers — been forced to stay in the league and aligned with the C7 (we'll assume Notre Dame had left for the ACC in this hypothetical and the C7 were open to the all-sports additions, which clearly was not going to happen).

(This is not to suggest adding all of the following universities would have been the right move — just that each one can yield a solid argument for inclusion.)

All-sports programs worth considering at the time:

* Houston, though located west of the Mississippi, has been nationally relevant in both major sports.

* The "basketball first" programs that could have worked: UMass, Temple and Memphis.

* The "football first" program that would have made some sense is UCF.

* Buffalo is about equal in both sports and would "fit" in terms of location, academics and athletics potential.

* Army and Navy would have been suitable for football only.

As I see it, that's the extent of the "makes sense programs" when you consider an insane hypothetical that would have kept intact the Big East as it had been at the time of Marinatto. Add some of those and the Big East remains a competitive (in both major sports) conference.

The others with some solid qualities — Marshall, ODU, Tulane, Toledo, ECU, SMU, Tulsa, Boise, San Diego State, etc. — simply have too many flaws (far-flung locations, not suitable for all-sports adds, cultures that would not have aligned well, small fan bases, non-urban locales, insufficient hoops tradition, etc.)

In the end, the Big East imploded as was inevitable and there will never be another men's hoops league (realistically) that will be as strong as the BE was at its height.
02-08-2021 09:23 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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Post: #8
RE: John Marinatto
Having lived through Marinatto's 2009-2012 reign, I will say that IMO he got more criticism than he deserved. Yes, he could have been more proactive about realignment rather than sitting like a duck for the ACC to raid us. Failure to do that was a fatal mistake for the old Big East.

But in the end, he did bring us a $1.4 Billion TV contract that, had it been ratified, might have kept the conference together. The presidents rejected it, an unwise move. Blame Marinatto for not convincing them otherwise if you want, but ultimately that was on them, not him.

In the end, history has been too harsh on him. I don't think anyone could have prevented Syracuse and Pitt from leaving for the ACC, and once they left, everything else that happened was inevitable.
02-08-2021 09:55 PM
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RE: John Marinatto
(02-08-2021 09:23 PM)bill dazzle Wrote:  In the end, the Big East imploded as was inevitable and there will never be another men's hoops league (realistically) that will be as strong as the BE was at its height.

Given that the three Big East schools with the largest enrollment in three of its largest markets (St. John's, Georgetown, DePaul) have been in the basement for a while now, the post-2013 Big East has probably overperformed. Georgetown hasn't been to the NCAA's in 6 years and hasn't got out of the first weekend of the NCAA in 14. DePaul's last Top 25 ranking was during the Clinton administration.

Put a New York, Washington and a Chicago team each in the Top 20, plus a rising power in UConn, and watch the sparks fly.
(This post was last modified: 02-09-2021 01:09 AM by DFW HOYA.)
02-09-2021 01:08 AM
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Post: #10
RE: John Marinatto
(02-08-2021 09:55 PM)quo vadis Wrote:  Having lived through Marinatto's 2009-2012 reign, I will say that IMO he got more criticism than he deserved. Yes, he could have been more proactive about realignment rather than sitting like a duck for the ACC to raid us. Failure to do that was a fatal mistake for the old Big East.

But in the end, he did bring us a $1.4 Billion TV contract that, had it been ratified, might have kept the conference together. The presidents rejected it, an unwise move. Blame Marinatto for not convincing them otherwise if you want, but ultimately that was on them, not him.

In the end, history has been too harsh on him. I don't think anyone could have prevented Syracuse and Pitt from leaving for the ACC, and once they left, everything else that happened was inevitable.

Wasnt part of the Big East for much of his time, but, like Aresco, I think he largely did a pretty good job with what he had to work with. If Slive or Delany had been the Big East commissioner, Pitt and Syracuse would still have bailed when they were invited to the ACC. You can only do so much when your dealt a hand that's weaker than all of your peers.
02-09-2021 01:36 AM
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Post: #11
RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 01:08 AM)DFW HOYA Wrote:  
(02-08-2021 09:23 PM)bill dazzle Wrote:  In the end, the Big East imploded as was inevitable and there will never be another men's hoops league (realistically) that will be as strong as the BE was at its height.

Given that the three Big East schools with the largest enrollment in three of its largest markets (St. John's, Georgetown, DePaul) have been in the basement for a while now, the post-2013 Big East has probably overperformed. Georgetown hasn't been to the NCAA's in 6 years and hasn't got out of the first weekend of the NCAA in 14. DePaul's last Top 25 ranking was during the Clinton administration.

Put a New York, Washington and a Chicago team each in the Top 20, plus a rising power in UConn, and watch the sparks fly.


Agree fully. The reninvented Big East has been much better than I was expecting.

It has been painful to see how mediocre the Blue Demon program has been (for both the previous BE and the current iteration). If DePaul, Georgetown and St. John's became "Top 25 good," it likely would be at the expense of other BE programs (perhaps, Butler, Creighton and Xavier, for example). It's hard to visualize the league with six or seven programs that are consistently top 25 to 30 caliber (hard to visualize any league with that, for that matter).

Of the three programs you mention, the one trending in the right direction is St. John's.
02-09-2021 09:35 AM
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Post: #12
RE: John Marinatto
I feel like Marinatto at least tried to keep basketball in mind with his football adds. Houston, Memphis, and Temple were all programs with basketball success.

The one move that I think Marinatto either should have pursued but didn’t (or failed to pull off) is that he should have courted BYU, Boise St, and San Diego St as football only members at the same time that he brought in TCU.
02-09-2021 10:02 AM
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Post: #13
RE: John Marinatto
Marinatto had some cringe quote about Jim Delany and expansion years ago, one that certainly didn't inspire confidence in his leadership capabilities
(This post was last modified: 02-09-2021 11:13 AM by Hokie4Skins.)
02-09-2021 11:13 AM
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RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 11:13 AM)Hokie4Skins Wrote:  Marinatto had some cringe quote about Jim Delany and expansion years ago, one that certainly didn't inspire confidence in his leadership capabilities

Do you remember what he said?
02-09-2021 11:22 AM
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RE: John Marinatto
In my opinion, the Big East was never going to be "all that they can be" (with apologies to the US Army) per declining Penn State in 1981. Regardless of how much their hoops struggled then, they directly snubbed a national top ten fan base that is also by far the largest in the area of PA/NE/NJ/NY. And by a large margin, the biggest financial monster there as well. When I think of all time blunders of conference decisions, I rank it #2 ... only behind Tulane voluntarily exiting the SEC.

Perhaps Penn State would have been content with the eastern league that they coveted for so long --- and never considered the Big Ten? They could have had their cake and devoured it with just adding a few more who came aboard eventually anyway such as West Virginia, and Rutgers.

The current residual Big East has done a nice job, it must obviously be noted, in keeping itself as a major player. Their membership looks to be permanently stable. The only long term concern would be if the P5 does make the long rumored move of a complete separation for all sports from the rest.
02-09-2021 11:40 AM
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Post: #16
RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 11:40 AM)MemTGRS Wrote:  In my opinion, the Big East was never going to be "all that they can be" (with apologies to the US Army) per declining Penn State in 1981. Regardless of how much their hoops struggled then, they directly snubbed a national top ten fan base that is also by far the largest in the area of PA/NE/NJ/NY. And by a large margin, the biggest financial monster there as well. When I think of all time blunders of conference decisions, I rank it #2 ... only behind Tulane voluntarily exiting the SEC.

I'm not so sure. The Big East, from its inception, was created as a basketball conference. Spurning Penn State was consistent with that mission.

This mission was destabilized (in terms of original membership) once the supreme court overturned the NCAA football TV monopoly in 1984. From that point on, over the next five or so years it became clearer that if you weren't Notre Dame, to maximize football revenues, you needed to be in a major football conference. That's what created tension between the purely hoops schools and the ones with established football programs, and in the long run, probably nothing but a split could resolve it. As it was, the Big East did a pretty good job of forestalling it, more than 25 years.
(This post was last modified: 02-09-2021 11:50 AM by quo vadis.)
02-09-2021 11:48 AM
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RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 11:48 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(02-09-2021 11:40 AM)MemTGRS Wrote:  In my opinion, the Big East was never going to be "all that they can be" (with apologies to the US Army) per declining Penn State in 1981. Regardless of how much their hoops struggled then, they directly snubbed a national top ten fan base that is also by far the largest in the area of PA/NE/NJ/NY. And by a large margin, the biggest financial monster there as well. When I think of all time blunders of conference decisions, I rank it #2 ... only behind Tulane voluntarily exiting the SEC.

I'm not so sure. The Big East, from its inception, was created as a basketball conference. Spurning Penn State was consistent with that mission.

This mission was destabilized (in terms of original membership) once the supreme court overturned the NCAA football TV monopoly in 1984. From that point on, over the next five or so years it became clearer that if you weren't Notre Dame, to maximize football revenues, you needed to be in a major football conference. That's what created tension between the purely hoops schools and the ones with established football programs, and in the long run, probably nothing but a split could resolve it. As it was, the Big East did a pretty good job of forestalling it, more than 25 years.

I’m with MemTGRS on this one. Pitt, Syracuse, and BC were never going to be able to remain in a conference that didn’t prioritize football. The 1984 USSC ruling put the nail in the coffin.

For football to thrive in the Northeast (and for that conference to also be basketball power) the conference that needed to be founded was:

BC
Syracuse
Rutgers
Pittsburgh
Penn St
Temple
WVU
St John’s*
Villanova*
Georgetown*

In the 90s, VT and Miami could have been added as full members. This configuration might have survived.
02-09-2021 12:05 PM
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Post: #18
RE: John Marinatto
It wasn't Marinatto's fault really. I'll always believe that the non-football schools didn't appreciate what it meant to be part of a BCS/Power football conference. They didn't let the league do what it needed to to bolster the FB conference and that is what lead to the break up of the league. Had TCU, Houston, Memphis and probably UCF been invited in the years between 2005 and 2010, I believe it would have secured a TV deal in line with the one it ultimately turned down and would have been granted autonomous status.
02-09-2021 01:54 PM
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quo vadis Offline
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RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 12:05 PM)Fighting Muskie Wrote:  
(02-09-2021 11:48 AM)quo vadis Wrote:  
(02-09-2021 11:40 AM)MemTGRS Wrote:  In my opinion, the Big East was never going to be "all that they can be" (with apologies to the US Army) per declining Penn State in 1981. Regardless of how much their hoops struggled then, they directly snubbed a national top ten fan base that is also by far the largest in the area of PA/NE/NJ/NY. And by a large margin, the biggest financial monster there as well. When I think of all time blunders of conference decisions, I rank it #2 ... only behind Tulane voluntarily exiting the SEC.

I'm not so sure. The Big East, from its inception, was created as a basketball conference. Spurning Penn State was consistent with that mission.

This mission was destabilized (in terms of original membership) once the supreme court overturned the NCAA football TV monopoly in 1984. From that point on, over the next five or so years it became clearer that if you weren't Notre Dame, to maximize football revenues, you needed to be in a major football conference. That's what created tension between the purely hoops schools and the ones with established football programs, and in the long run, probably nothing but a split could resolve it. As it was, the Big East did a pretty good job of forestalling it, more than 25 years.

I’m with MemTGRS on this one. Pitt, Syracuse, and BC were never going to be able to remain in a conference that didn’t prioritize football. The 1984 USSC ruling put the nail in the coffin.

For football to thrive in the Northeast (and for that conference to also be basketball power) the conference that needed to be founded was:

BC
Syracuse
Rutgers
Pittsburgh
Penn St
Temple
WVU
St John’s*
Villanova*
Georgetown*

In the 90s, VT and Miami could have been added as full members. This configuration might have survived.

Don't get me wrong. I *wish* that there was a major football conference in the northeast corridor, with a lineup similar to yours. Mine would be:

Pitt
Penn State
Maryland
Temple
Syracuse
BC
UConn
Rutgers
Navy
West Virginia

But sadly, that will likely never come to fruition.
(This post was last modified: 02-09-2021 02:00 PM by quo vadis.)
02-09-2021 01:59 PM
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RE: John Marinatto
(02-09-2021 01:54 PM)HartfordHusky Wrote:  It wasn't Marinatto's fault really. I'll always believe that the non-football schools didn't appreciate what it meant to be part of a BCS/Power football conference. They didn't let the league do what it needed to to bolster the FB conference and that is what lead to the break up of the league. Had TCU, Houston, Memphis and probably UCF been invited in the years between 2005 and 2010, I believe it would have secured a TV deal in line with the one it ultimately turned down and would have been granted autonomous status.

I tend to agree with this. I wanted to see Cincy, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette and Memphis as Big East brethren (would have been a "reunion" of sorts of five former C-USA programs). When the Tiger program got the invite to the then-Big East ... very exciting. Alas, it was not meant to be. A Big East with the C7 and Cincy, Louisville, Memphis, Houston and UConn would have been "basketball stout."

In the end, Louisville ended up in the ultimate home (the ACC) and the C7 and UConn made the correct moves with the current Big East. The big question now is for Cincy, Houston and Memphis, the so-called "Z.Z. Top of the American." Those three are doing their best in what is a very good football and baseball league but an underachiever in hoops.
02-09-2021 02:03 PM
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