Lewis: Is Big East signaling end of the world?

By TED LEWIS

Advocate sportswriter

NEW ORLEANS — According to the Mayan calendar, we can expect the Apocalypse on Friday.

The Big East didn’t bother to chance it not happening.

On Nov. 28, the day after Tulane was introduced as the league’s newest member, Louisville jumped to the ACC, following West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse plus Notre Dame in all sports but football.

Then last week, the Catholic 7 — Georgetown, Seton Hall, Marquette, DePaul, Villanova, St. John’s and Providence — announced they were splitting as well although they may wait until 2015 in order to sort out all of the financial and legal issues, including who gets to keep the name “Big East.”

Marquette Athletic Director Larry Williams declared that Tulane’s low basketball RPI was the final straw. That’s a crock.

The breakup has been inevitable from as far back as 1991 when the Big East expanded into the football realm. The basketball schools have felt like second-class citizens ever since, and the lowered value of the league’s next TV contract made it easy for the Catholic 7 to go their own way.

If things aren’t finalized until 2015, Tulane would get at least one appearance in the conference’s storied basketball tournament in Madison Square Garden.

Beyond that, things are very fluid. There are all sorts of suggestions/speculations out there.

The most credible is that the Catholic 7, will add a few like institutions such as Xavier (Ohio, not Louisiana), St. Louis and Dusquene and remain the Big East since its primary identification is in basketball anyway.

That would leave, for now, holdovers Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple and South Florida plus SMU, Houston, Memphis and Central Florida all scheduled to join in 2013 along with Boise State and San Diego State in football.

Like Tulane, East Carolina, which was supposed to be a football-only member. is supposed to come on board in 2014, although that status should now be extended to all sports. Navy is scheduled to become a football-only member in 2015, but is now considering its options.

Got all that? But be prepared for something else.

As we all know, the byword in college sports these days is upward mobility, especially if there’s any chance to crossing the dividing line coming in 2014 when everyone not in the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, Big 12 or ACC will be lumped into the unglamorous-sounding “Group of Five” for football purposes and everything else by extension.

UConn and Cincinnati made no effort to hide their disappointment at being passed over by the ACC, which won’t be looking unless it’s raided again. USF and UCF aren’t sitting still either.

Any and all of those things would trigger another round of realignment. In any case, given the conventional wisdom that Tulane’s invite to the Big East came only after BYU and Air Force had rejected earlier ones, the Green Wave certainly isn’t driving the bus in all of this.

Where does it end? Who knows?

We’re just hoping to make through Friday.