Georgetown just feeling left out

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

The 18-wheeler that is conference realignment -- driven by college football -- has sideswiped Georgetown again.

Notre Dame's switch from the Big East to ACC has everything to do with football and almost nothing to do with basketball. The Hoyas' future, just as it was last year when the departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia were announced, is little more than collateral damage.

The Fighting Irish are certain to be attracted by the perks of new and storied foes on the hardwood. Just ask the Hoyas themselves whether they rather would play Duke and North Carolina, as well as their oldest and fiercest rivals, the Orange. They might even swallow their pride to welcome games against their should-be rival, the one closest to them geographically but whose name is blasphemy on campus, Maryland.

Instead, Georgetown is determined and has little choice but to keep on trucking with the nationalized Big East. While the Hoyas look forward to battles with Memphis (how long will Josh Pastner keep his team in the locker room the next time he comes to Verizon Center?), Central Florida, Houston and SMU, current members Louisville, Connecticut and Rutgers are likely weighing their own exit strategies.

The Big East is no longer the toughest conference in the country. Nor is it that attractive to Madison Square Garden for its conference tournament. Nor is it worth retaining the so-called brand value of the name, the Big East.

In theory, Georgetown still could try to band together with the best basketball-only programs of the Big East, Atlantic 10 and CAA to create a super basketball conference. But it's a narrowly focused solution.

A smaller Catholic league also could be a possibility. But aside from the Hoyas, Notre Dame -- whose national appeal, religious and academic traditions are more similar to those of Georgetown than any other Big East school -- would have been its most heralded member.

Of course, the Hoyas also may decide to go crawling to the ACC, appealing to the tidiness of a 16-team basketball conference. The only problem: Conference commissioner John Swofford said it doesn't want or need anyone more.

That feels like Georgetown's story since realignment madness began.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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