Charlie Strong is concerned by the instability of Big East football.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When Charlie Strong started his weekly press conference Monday, the Number One reason he had to discuss Rutgers was the football game the University of Louisville will play against the Scarlet Knights Nov. 29.
It's the Game of the Year in the Big East.
By the time Strong was asked his first question about the latest chop-block delivered by conference realignment, word was percolating that Rutgers had officially scheduled a Tuesday press conference to announce it will join Maryland in the flight to the Big Ten.
Syracuse. Pittsburgh. West Virginia. Notre Dame. Rutgers. Going, going, gone.
The future of the Big East is as bright as the future of the pay phone. Louisville administrators know that. Louisville coaches know that. Louisville fans know that.
This is one of the best college sports towns in America. It's the best college basketball town in the country. Louisville is one of the most ambitious college football programs in the nation. There are plenty of programs that would love to have all the assets Louisville has parked on South Floyd Street.
Doesn't matter. Think about how absurd that sounds. But it doesn't matter.
There is little anybody can do about it other than politic, brag, arm twist and then hope that when the music stops after the next blast of musical chairs Louisville has a meaningful chair to sit in. Today U of L is standing on the outside.
Perhaps the Cardinals can blast Connecticut or somebody else out of the way for a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Or maybe the testosterone rises within the Big 12 and that group will suddenly believe it needs 14 teams to match the mammoth new Big Ten and Southeastern conference arrangements.
I asked Strong if it changed his feelings about the Big East, which is not to suggest that his feelings about the Big East were warm and fuzzy before the latest developments.
"I guess what you look at is the stability of the whole league," Strong said. "There's someone else. It's five in two years that have walked away.
"We know this: It's a great position we're in … We are so successful in each of our sports that at some point somebody's going to turn around and look at Louisville and say, 'Look at what they're doing', or maybe they'll be afraid to let us come in from what we're doing. Who knows?"
What else can he say?
What else can he do?
Thump UConn Saturday at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Make it three straight over the Huskies and five wins and only three losses since U of L moved from Conference USA to the Big East in 2005. Beat Rutgers the following week. Win a BCS bowl.
If any of this conference realignment stuff was about the work done by Strong's football teams, Rick Pitino's basketball teams, Jeff Walz's women's basketball teams, Ann Kordes' volleyball teams or anybody on the roster of coaches that Tom Jurich has built, Louisville would already be safely tucked in a grander place than any of the Big East evacuees.
In the eight seasons that Louisville has been a member of the league, Jurich's overall program has been as consistently competitive and successful as anybody in the Big East.
Rutgers football is closing out its 11th winning season in 32 years. The best of Maryland football came when Jerry Claiborne worked the sidelines nearly four decades ago. Louisville football has already secured its 12th bowl trip in the last 15 seasons.
There's no reason to keep dwelling on that because it doesn't matter.
In a rational world, it should matter more than anything. In the emerging world, it doesn't matter – at least not as much television market size and how many viewers will turn on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten is talking about opening a satellite league office in the Eastern U.S. to service Maryland, Rutgers and Penn State.
The seven percent of viewers in the New York City market that care about Rutgers and the 25 percent of viewers in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. markets that care about Maryland will move more product than the 65-or-70 percent of the viewers in this market that care about Louisville.
There's no game plan for Charlie Strong or Tom Jurich to deal with that.