Back in the 1980s, the Big East had three of its teams – – Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova – – in the Final Four. This year, the conference has three of its teams – – Creighton, UConn and Xavier – – in the Sweet 16 AND it is also in the news regarding a couple of major coaching changes. For the moment, the Big East is once again the focal point of college basketball.
Rick Pitino will indeed be leaving Iona and taking over the program at St. John’s; that had been rumored for several weeks and the announcement came late yesterday; Pitino signed a 6-year deal. Pitino will make St. John’s a story once again; he has always had good teams and he has always had plenty of other “stuff” surrounding his programs that folks find newsworthy. Rick Pitino is not a favorite to win any humanitarian awards any time soon, but even his most ardent detractors must admit that he can recruit players and he can coach them up into a formidable unit.
As controversial as Pitino may be, the separation of St. John’s University and former coach, Mike Anderson, may become even more controversial/contentious. Anderson is considering a lawsuit against the university over his “firing for cause”. St. John’s claims that Anderson did not “facilitate an environment of academic compliance within the program” and that he failed to “appropriately supervise” the assistant coaches on the team. By choosing to fired Anderson for cause, the university is not obligated to pay out the remainder of Anderson’s contract – – reportedly $11M – – and Anderson has said he will aggressively defend his contractual rights.
Anderson had been at St. Johns for 4 years after taking over from Chris Mullen. His record was 68-56 with no tournament appearances in those 4 seasons. St. John’s used to be a fixture in the NCAA tournament; however, since 2000 it has only been involved 4 times. I suspect that St. John’s will be back in post season play sooner than later with Pitino on the bench.
The other big coaching move in the Big East is actually two moves. Georgetown has poached Ed Cooley from conference rival, Providence, to replace Patrick Ewing as the Hoyas’ head coach. There was no mystery as to why the folks at Georgetown decided to move on from Patrick Ewing; over the last two seasons the Hoyas’ record was 13-50. Cooley had been the head coach at Providence for 12 seasons and had the Friars in the NCAA tournament 7 times. The fact that Cooley is making an intra-conference coaching move makes for an interesting rivalry angle there and it opens up another coaching slot in the basketball-centric Big East Conference.
Oh, and just to demonstrate the wheels within wheels nature of college basketball, Rick Pitino was the head coach at Providence back in the 1980s…
Moving on … Two years ago, Trevor Bauer signed a 3-year contract with the LA Dodgers worth a reported $102M. I am sure you know that Bauer was suspended for two years by Commissioner Rob Manfred – – that suspension was reduced to a year subsequently – – and the Dodgers released Bauer. The lurid nature of the allegations against Bauer made him sufficiently toxic that he could not get a contract offer from an MLB team as a free agent this year despite the fact that Bauer was never even indicted for any criminal activity based on the original accusations let alone convicted of anything.
Trevor Bauer won the NL Cy Young Award in 2020 which was the impetus for the Dodgers’ decision to give him that $102M deal. So, one should expect that if given a chance to take the mound again, Bauer would likely be successful. He will get that opportunity in Japan this year; last week reports said that he signed a contract with the Yokohama BayStars in Japan’s Central League. Those reports say that contract is worth $4M with incentives.
The issue here is not the drastic reduction in the value of Bauer’s services as a pitcher; I could rant on that issue from several perspectives and at the end of the ranting nothing would change even a little bit. I bring this up today because Trevor Bauer may have plumbed new depths of disingenuity related to his contract signing. Here is his statement:
“Playing in the NPB has always been a dream of mine and I can’t think of a better organization to do it with.”
“NPB” is the acronym for Nippon Professional Baseball i.e., the Japanese League. Let me review the bidding here:
- Trevor Bauer was born in North Hollywood, CA
- He went to high school in a suburb of LA.
- He went to UCLA.
- He was in MLB and signed with the LA Dodgers
- And playing in the Japanese League has always been a dream of his…
Finally, given Trevor Bauer’s multiple links to Los Angeles, CA, let me close with two different views on the city:
“I mean, who would want to live in a place where the only cultural advantage is that you can turn right on a red light.” [Woody Allen]
“A big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper clip.” [Raymond Chandler]
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………
2 thoughts on “Big East Basketball”
One more small-world – you talked of the 1980s Big East. Those were Georgetown’s glory days, under John Thompson. Where did John go undergrad?
Good catch. I knew that but never put it in the context here…
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