In what couldn’t have been much of a surprise to anyone, beleaguered John Marinatto stepped down today as Big East commissioner. The shifting conference has tabbed former Miami Dolphin CEO Joe Bailey as the interim commissioner.
Since replacing Mike Tranghese — who got out just in time — in 2009, Marinatto, a Big East lifer from Providence, took much of the blame for the exodus of Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse; for not being proactive enough in a changing landscape while the Big East was straddled with a pittance of a TV contract; for losing TCU to the Big 12 before the Horned Frogs ever played a game in the Big East (and was lobbied by Jamie Dixon for entrance into the league); and finally ending up with UCF, Houston, Memphis, Temple and SMU in all sports and San Diego State, Boise State and Navy in football only.
Given the polar-opposite pulls of the football and non-football schools, Marinatto — who was asked to resign by the league presidents according to CBS Sports, never had much of a chance to succeed. And how laughably shallow did it sound when he called the additions of Boise State and SDSU “bold and creative,” and tried to spin the new additions as building a better Big East than ever. Please.
Whoever takes over as commissioner will learn quickly what Marinatto — a nice guy in a bad situation — was dealing with. WVU is gone. Pitt and Syracuse leave after next year. Connecticut and Louisville remain conference shopping. The new commissioner — Cincinnati president Gregory Williams will chair the search committee — will oversee the signing of a new TV contract and enter an era after two seasons in which the BCS does away with automatic qualifiers and the huge revenue-sharing implications that come with that.
Two candiates mentioned to replace Marinatto are Nick Carparelli, the Big East senior associate commissioner, and Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti. Two guys with Big East ties. Instead, the conference should look for someone with ties to TV contract negotiation. Nothing else is nearly as important.