‘Metro Conference’ for non-parting Big East?
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
Once the paperwork is signed and the money is split, a group of 11 football and basketball schools that used to be known as the Big East are going to be looking for a new identity and a fresh start.
It won’t necessarily be easy.
Though the backing of ESPN will help, what do you call a collection of six schools from Conference USA, three from the old Big East, Temple and Navy as they try to establish a new brand in college sports that will: a) Be representative of the members and b) Not engender the kind of snark that ate away at the credibility of the league for the past several years?
The obvious answer is to revive an old friend: The Metro Conference.
“I think if it’s something they feel would help identify the conference and the schools, it certainly would be appropriate,” Ralph McFillen, the former Metro commissioner until it dissolved in 1995, told USA TODAY Sports by phone Tuesday. “It’s interesting what has taken place and what is going on within conferences and so forth. It’s interesting to see some of (what happened to the Metro) come back around now.”
If the Big East re-branded as the Metro, it would be a name filled not only with history, but irony, too.
The Metro formed in 1975 as a league built around two factors: Basketball and television, and in many ways it became the precursor of the original Big East. The six charter members of the Metro included Cincinnati, Louisville, Tulane and Memphis, later adding Florida State, Virginia Tech, Southern Miss and South Carolina – all of which had independent football programs. Saint Louis, the other charter member, didn’t have football.
Throughout the 1980s, the league – with the backing of Raycom Sports television – was one of the strongest in college basketball with great players, legendary coaching personalities and exposure in big cities in the South and mid-Atlantic.
In many ways, it was the model for what the Catholic 7, who decided to break away from the Big East’s football side with the help of Fox Sports, are trying … [For more on What to name non-departing Big East schools? Revive 'Metro Conference', click here.]