I get that I’m joining the party on this topic late. Earlier in September, Xavier AD Greg Christopher mentioned in a web interview that the Big East will add two teams within the next five years. He identified four candidates: Richmond, Dayton, St Louis and VCU in no particular order.
Duquesne once again missed the list and rightfully so. On the positive side of the resume, Duquesne has the NBA caliber arena the Pens built near campus and the 134 years old decision by the Holy Ghost Fathers to start a university in what would become the 22nd largest metropolitan area in America. Competitively, we haven’t done anything recently in any sport beyond sustained mediocrity. We aren’t “earners” as Greg Amodio puts it. We don’t have a massive endowment or a brand that brings much notoriety to the Big East. However, a lot can change in five years.
Of the schools mentioned by Christopher, only Dayton looked like a contender to jump to Big East entering the 2008-09 season. Five years later, one could make the argument that they are the least qualified. Dayton’s chances to leave the A-10 hinge on the league staying private in my opinion. If the Big East add VCU, what would stop them from adding a second public? I think the unmentioned Wichita State becomes a no brainer should they decide to smash the Big Priest label. If they take VCU and one of the other current contenders, St. Louis offers more than Dayton in terms of market and the ever so important “what have you done for me lately” factor. After all, the Billikens have made the last two tournaments while the Flyers haven’t gone in five years ago. Make no mistake, their chances dwindle every year they don’t return.
Five years ago, the rebuilds at St Louis and Richmond began to show progress. Both jumped to the 120 -140 range in RPI with young teams looking poised to take the next step. St Louis already broke ground on the 10,000 seat Chaifetz Arena and had a wily old coach in Rick Majerus on the sidelines. Richmond had the promising Chris Mooney and a cohort of strong, young players gaining experience. Both have since made a Sweet Sixteen. However, you still had to use your imagination to make the leap from where they stood in September of 2008 to get to where they would end up. While both teams had the promise, neither had the resume to even merit consideration for the Big East back then.
What Duquesne needs more than anything is time. If the Big East decides to go to twelve this year or next, we don’t have a chance. Should they extend their expansion timeline, anything can happen. St Louis could tank under Crews. Richmond could fail to reach the same level of success they did a few years ago. Dayton’s tournament drought could continue. Richmond and St Louis didn’t belong five years ago, but have forced their way into consideration. People could say the same about Duquesne five years from now.
Of course, the turnaround necessary for Duquesne to get to the Big East needs to have started already. The Dukes have to take big steps forward quickly or no matter what they do, they’ll end up on the outside looking in. If the Dukes make a surge and time it right, suddenly they could capture the attention of the Big East the same way St Louis and Richmond have now. The athletic department has a 15 point deficit and 5 minutes left in the game to make up the difference. The comeback isn’t impossible but there’s no time to waste. A lot can change in five years, but you better hope they change fast.