By no fault of their own, the Gonzaga Bulldogs — in spite of their national No. 1 ranking — are a member of a relatively weak conference when you consider the Ratings Power Index and overall strength of schedule, the West Coast Conference.
With the declaration of independence by the “old” Big East’s seven catholic institutions — known as the Catholic 7, but in reality the “new” Big East Conference, there seems to be a natural fit to be explored to make the Bulldogs the conference’s presumptive eleventh member in spite of surface logistical issues.
As it was with the brief football flirtation between the Boise State Broncos and San Diego State Aztecs with the Big East on the football side, a move by the Bulldogs to the Catholic 7 to become its newest member certainly wouldn’t be without some logistical wrangling. However, given the success the program has seen in recent years, and especially this season, they are hardly a cute little mid-major any longer, and in fact are an anomaly among their peers:
A basketball-only, academically-focused, religiously-connected institution that, while small in enrollment, doesn’t operate or play as if that was the case.
A move to the Big East would make Gonzaga the conference’s presumptive 11th member, with the Creighton Bluejays joining the mix either next season or in 2014, and the Xavier Musketeers and Butler Bulldogs joining in 2013.
Herein lies one of the potential challenges.
Would the Big East be willing to take on Gonzaga as its eleventh member in the assumption they could secure a 12th member soon thereafter? If so, who would that member be? These questions would undoubtedly be at the apex of any discussions regarding the Bulldogs and their fit for a conference that will be neatly located in the upper Midwest and along the East Coast.
Regardless, with the additions of Butler and Creighton — two of the country’s emerging college basketball mid-major powers — the Big East would be well served to add one of its already established mid-majors in Gonzaga to further solidify a core that could make the conference a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Why should Gonzaga turn down this opportunity if it is offered?
I certainly can’t think of a reason.