The Big Ten has twelve members. The Big 12 has ten members. The Southeast Conference added Texas A&M, which is south, but not east, and Missouri, which is neither south nor east. The Pacific 12 has landlocked members in Utah and Colorado that don't even border states that border other states that you can see the Pacific Ocean from. The ACC may be the only conference that hasn't expanded beyond it's current name (though Pittsburgh is at least six hours from the Atlantic coast).
Despite these moves, the Big East has been the target of more expansion-jokes than any other conference, thanks to a series of western additions. It may seem natural then, that the conference is considering a new name and brand.
According to BusinessWeek, interim Commissioner Joe Bailey said that the league has commissioned a study to consider alternative names, or "tweaks." The report didn't present a timetable for the league to receive the report and consider its options, however.
More likely than a complete change to the Big East name, however, is an effort to make smaller changes to the branding of the conference, according to Bailey:
"A brand is extremely important because it tells the marketplace that this is what the Big East stands for," Bailey said. "There is so much equity in the name, Big East, what do you do with that?"
He said it was more likely the conference will "tweak a little" than come up with a wholesale change to the name.
Our friends at Big East Coast Bias are rooting for the name to remain the same (and look likely to get their way):
My opinion has never counted for much, but this seems like a gigantic mistake. First, geographical descriptors, even basic numbers, in conference names don't matter in the least. Colorado and Utah aren't anywhere near the Pacific Ocean. Missouri is neither south nor east. There aren't ten teams in the Big Ten and there aren't twelve teams in the Big 12. Why the Big East would feel compelled to change it's name when no other conference seems to care is beyond me.
The issue, of course, isn't whether or not the geography of the conference has changed. The Big East is considering a re-branding effort because the football side of the league is now so changed that it might be warranted. This is major change from the schools that first formed the league in the 1990s.
It's also an opportunity to try and build a brand that isn't associated with weak football as the Big East name currently is.
The brand as it stands for basketball has been a lot stronger, placing more teams than any other league into the NCAA tournament in recent years. If the conference changes its name completely, that will be a tough pill to swallow for some Big East basketball fans who have memories of all of the great roundball moments the conference has produced since 1979.
The fundamental make-up of the conference is different than it was in 1985, however, and though the brand still has meaning to many, it may make sense at this point to build a new brand. Showing the league's unity and allowing the basketball programs to succeed and re-build under a new banner. Better that than be accused of resting on the laurels of a Big East name and brand built while the conference still had Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the Big East adopt a new name? If so, what would you call it?