Commentary | USF can’t stay silent on Big East

October 9, 2011 

Picture a room of people talking and everyone has their fingers crossed behind their backs. We all played that game as kids. You know how it works: Cross your fingers, and what you say isn’t true.

It gives you the green light to bend the truth, which is important to the remaining Big East football schools.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t bode well for the University of South Florida.

It’s a game the Bulls football program can’t afford to play.

Someone at the Fowler Avenue school has to speak out. There is too much to lose -- everything Lee Roy Selmon helped build, everything that has transpired since USF joined the conference and became a BCS automatic qualifier.

Everyone is talking, but the people we want to hear.

Even ex-USF head football coach Jim Leavitt, who was fired for “allegedly” hitting a player, chimed in.

USF might have to ask the University of Central Florida to let it join the Conference USA, Leavitt said last week.

Ouch!

The Big East is crumbling right before the eyes of USF President Judy Genshaft and Athletic Director Doug Woolard, and they are not talking, at least to the public whose support they need.

Perception is important, particularly for the Big East as it gasps for air.

Leadership is needed. Someone has to bring hope.

The conference is going up in flames, and nobody wants to grab a ladder to put out the fire.

TCU left last week before actually coming, and there are only so many life rafts remaining.

Here is tip: Do something! Say something!

This week, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said the conference was considering UCF and East Carolina but needed more time to find out about those schools.

Childish talk! Rubbish!

Want to know more about UCF. Drive up to Orlando. It’s not hard to look into the school’s finances and academic standing, which are open to the public. You can even spend a day at Disney; the public would gladly pay for it if you saved the Bulls and their BCS status.

Want to learn more about East Carolina?

Ask USF head football coach Skip Holtz. He used to coach the Pirates before you hired him.

What’s the problem?

Everyone seems to be afraid to act when doing nothing will accomplish nothing except the destruction of the Big East.

Navy said it’s interested in joining the Big East but wants to see some stability.

That should be enough. Give the Midshipmen something to hold on to. You need them.

You need UCF also. But you don’t need a Ph.D. to figure that out.

Only legal shackles are preventing Syracuse and Pittsburgh from bolting to the ACC before next season.

If they find a way to circumvent the law that binds them to the Big East for the next couple of years, you are done.

Take UCF! You have no choice. Get Temple. It gives you the Philadelphia market, and they demolished Maryland and lost to Penn State by 4 points. Not enough? Look in the mirror Big East!

Take SMU, which is the best up-and-coming program in college football today, and it gives entry into the Dallas TV market.

Call Boise State. Its television market is small, but its BCS ranking over the last few years might save the Big East when the BCS does its four-year evaluation at the end of this season.

Genshaft is chairman of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors, and she needs to use her influence.

If the Big East loses West Virginia and Louisville, it may be too late. Sorry, you can’t wait.

There is so much at stake.

Lose your BCS status, and you lose the blue-chip athletes. Guys like Southeast product Mike Jenkins, now with the Dallas Cowboys, no longer will come.

The list of top recruits will shorten, crowds will shrink, your coffers could dry up. No one associated with USF wants this.

So what are you waiting for?

Speak out. Show some confidence. Get a new commissioner if you have to! The current one is acting like a lame duck anyway.

You can’t take the wrong schools. You can’t take too many. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 745-2112.

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