The Big East announced yesterday that its four Division 1-A football members -- Miami, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Boston College -- will form a conference set for kickoff in 1991 and will explore the possibility of adding four teams by January.
Commissioner Mike Tranghese met with the athletic directors from BC, Pitt, Syracuse and Miami Wednesday in Washington to formalize the league.
"It's a monstrous move," Tranghese said. "But we had a great meeting with our four athletic directors and we're committed to it, and our people will be committed to it. It was just important to start in 1991 so that we could get off the ground and begin to market ourselves as a conference."
Tranghese said the league will meet with representatives from West Virginia, Temple, Rutgers and Virginia Tech to extend an invitation as football-only members. Given the climate of college football today, when independent schools have fast become an endangered species, the Big East's offer is one the four invitees are not likely to refuse.
"We've talked to them a lot to see if they'd be interested in something like this," Tranghese said. "They're very receptive. They all understand that this does not include basketball. If basketball's the price, then we don't do it."
For outgoing BC athletic director Bill Flynn, the announcement was the fruition of a dream, one for which he had lobbied long and hard in his 33 years at The Heights.
"I've wanted this for so many years, and now we're finally going to have Big East football," Flynn said. "But I think it's going to be great for Eastern football."
If anything, the formation of the Big East football conference will provide safe haven to Eastern independents, in particular the Big East football schools, in the recent wave of conference expansionism.
"One of the things about the conference is that you do have teams to play every year," Flynn said. "You have a commitment to play those same teams."
"What we were thinking was taking the schedule as it is for most teams, and applying it for 1991," Tranghese said. "We hope to have everyone on the schedule by the year 2000, but Miami has as big a task as anybody. They have to make the most moves of anybody."
Asked if he would create a separate office to handle the football league, Tranghese said he would likely expand his office but delegate the authority among his three assistants, Tom McElroy, Linda Bruno and Chris Plonsky.
"By doing this, I'm sure that I've made the lives of people in our office extremely more difficult, so our office will grow," Tranghese said. "But my inclination is not to bring in people just to work with football. We will probably look at restructuring our office, but my inclination is to involve all the people in our office in football because I think we have some great football experience in our office."