Pete Thamel of the NY Times spoke with John 'no comment' Marinatto about the plight of the Big East. Marinatto offered the usual platitudes about the conference emerging stronger after the departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and to be fair, that's exactly what you'd expect him to say.
However, in a statement that confirms what the rest of the sports world already knew, Marinatto once again proved just how out of his depths he is in his current position. From the article:
Marinatto acknowledged that he had been criticized in the news media since the departure of Pitt and Syracuse. His only response was, “It’s not about me.”
In the history of misguided statements, this one has to be in the top 10, because it ABSOLUTELY IS about him. In fact, it's ALL about him. Everyone knows that football is the driving force behind the rapidly evolving college landscape. Everyone also understands that football is one big unregulated, out-of-control hot mess right now. Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese acknowledged that no one is in control and that the only people that have power in this situation are conference commissioners.
Which brings us to Marinatto -- who just so happens to be a conference commissioner. As the commissioner of a conference with a BCS bid, he presumably would have some power, except for the fact that no one, especially those in his own conference, have any faith in his ability to lead. If they did, they'd still be there. If he wasn't widely perceived as being a weak, incompetent leader, the Big East could have at least had a shot (a long one) at being seen as viable.
What he's never understood is that perception is reality, and in today's wild west, no holds barred conference landscape, that's never been more true. Right now conferences will beg, borrow and steal to protect their futures and line their pockets and John Marinatto is the last guy you want protecting your back. I wouldn't leave John Swofford alone in a room with my wife for two seconds, but I'd let her go snorkeling in Aruba with Big John.
If he had done anything at all to try and correct the perception that he was weak, he might have had a chance. If he hadn't found out his conference was getting raided from a member of the media, he might have had a chance. Love him or hate him, Tranghese was respected by others through the sheer force of his personality. If Marinatto had projected one-tenth the amount of strength of his predecessor, things might be different.
Look, there's no denying the fact that he walked into a very tough situation. An almost impossible situation. The basketball/football split was most likely unworkable from the start. However, by failing to realize it is all about him, and by failing to demand and earn the respect his position requires John Marinatto hastened the demise of the Big East. In the wild west, you want be be aligned with Al Swearengen, Marinatto is E.B. Farnum.
That's why Syracuse and Pittsburgh are gone. It's why others will leave. Someone should tell the emperor he has no clothes....then again his response would probably be that this isn't about fashion.