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The birth and redemption of the Big East: how a conference fulfilled her potential

People still want to push dirt on the Big East's grave, but that's just because they don't know the real story.

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Jay Wright flicking V's to the haters.
Jay Wright flicking V's to the haters.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sometime in the summer of 1979, a weary but clearly elated Dave Gavitt walked into the waiting room and started passing out cigars. He smiled and announced, "It's a conference girl." The birth certificate read: "Big East"

She grew up fast, growing in her first year and again as a three-year-old. By the time she was old enough for grade school, she was more than hold her own with the big kids; she was dominating them. By the time she was on the cusp of her teenage years, everyone agreed that she was on her way to big things.

The Big East has got a baby
But the Big East has barely got a brain

Then, just when things were going awesome, they took a turn for the worse. Like all too many teens getting their first heady taste of freedom, the Big East had a baby. Lots of babies, actually.

Parenting is no picnic to begin with, and the Big East was a single parent besides. The Big East did her best, but it was always an unstable domestic situation. Pretty soon the babies wanted to start bringing friends in. Some were perfectly respectable; others were clearly trouble from the start. All of them made life more difficult for the Big East.

Her family
Didn't really care to see, or give a damn if she
Went out and had a church of kids
As long as when the check came they got first dibs

Pretty soon it was hard to tell who was coming or going or - in the case of Temple - both. Between 1991 and 2013, a dozen teams that were not affiliated with the Big East in the beginning glommed onto her for reasons rarely related to anything but their own interests. Meanwhile, the ones claiming to care for her were just in it to line their own pockets.

Prostitute Conference found slain
The Big East is her name
She's got a baby

This is where it could have ended for the Big East. Bloated, staggering, and laden with hangers on, she was a dim mockery of the beauty she had once seemed destined to become. Many have disappeared into the history books under less stress.

Not the Big East. Instead, she cleaned house. The babies that had started all the trouble were old enough to be sent out on their own, so they were. The friends that they brought in left with them. It their place, the Big East made a few select new, better friends. Gone were the hangers-on that were just leeching off the Big East's check; in came a new, helpful partner.

If you just started really focusing on the Big East  after she had a baby - say, 1997 or so - you might never have thought of her as anything but what she was then. Shoot, there's even a level of admirability in how well she kept it together in trying circumstances.

But that shouldn't obscure the fact that what the Big East is now is not a diminished version of her true form but a return to it. She is achieving the success she was always destined for, and even some of the ones who left her want to come home. Don't let anyone tell you that somebody killed the Big East; it has been a long time since she has been as alive as she is now.