When the “Catholic 7” agreed to depart from the Big East in March 2013, the split’s main focus was the impact it would have from a basketball standpoint.
The Catholic 7, consisting of DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova, were close to a lucrative basketball television contract with Fox Sports Network.
On June 30, 2013, the Catholic 7 officially split from the old Big East, kept the Big East name and maintained their rights to host the conference basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden. Soon after this, Xavier, Butler and Creighton were added to the newly formed Big East.
Due to the split’s focus on the basketball side, it’s impact on the other sports flew under the radar, specifically on men’s soccer.
Schools like Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame and Connecticut were mainstays in national rankings during their Big East days. In 2011, seven Big East schools ranked in the final top-25. In 2012, six were in the final top-25.
When those aforementioned schools left the Big East, it was unclear if the conference would remain prominent in men’s soccer, or if it would take a step back.
The 2013 season was the first for the newly-formed Big East. It was an inaugural season with many question marks, but some of those questions were soon put to rest.
The Big East had only two soccer teams finish in the final top-25 (No. 10 Georgetown and No. 11 Marquette). This was a drop-off from the two previous seasons, but there were positives to be taken away from the 2013 season.
Five Big East schools (Creighton, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence and St. John’s) qualified for the NCAA tournament, and newcomers Xavier, Creighton and Butler showed their ability to play in a major conference.
Xavier, Creighton and Butler all finished above .500 and Creighton was able to make an NCAA tournament appearance – a positive sign for the conference going forward. Despite the strides the new Big East made in it’s first season, the presence of the teams from the old conference did not go unnoticed.
Notre Dame took home a national title in 2013 Three teams that were a part of the old Big East finished in the final top-25. It was clear the new Big East would have a ways go before it could recapture the success of the old conference, but the success that it was looking for would come sooner than expected.
The 2014 season was a major step in the conference’s quest to re-establish itself as a force to be reckoned with on a national level. Providence finished No. 3 in the country while Georgetown (No. 6) and Creighton (No. 7) finished in the top-10. Xavier came in at No. 11. Providence, Georgetown and Xavier all qualified for the NCAA tournament and Providence made a run all the way to the national semifinals before falling at the hands of eventual runner-up, UCLA, in a double-overtime thriller.
The conference as a whole took a step back in the 2015 season, but both Georgetown and Creighton were able to finish in the top-25, solidifying that even though the Big East may not be as deep as it normally is, there will always be at least a couple of schools present in the national picture.
The old Big East schools may be irreplaceable, but make no mistake about it: The new conference is serious when it comes to men’s soccer, and despite some losses, it remains nationally relevant.
Tyler Calvaruso is a journalism major from Howell, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.