And perhaps Marinatto bought into that. Perhaps the league's presidents did, too. Maybe that's why they elected not to sign a lucrative contract with ESPN when given the chance, instead gambling that there would be more money when the old contract expired. But even if the league had pulled the trigger on a new TV contract, would it have made a difference?
Pitt and Syracuse, when deciding to jump to the ACC, saw the same things that Miami & Co. had seen some eight years before - stability and financial security as opposed to never-ending damage control. West Virginia's escape was inevitable once it found a safe landing spot. Louisville fought all the way to Mitch McConnell to have the same chance and isn't done yet. Connecticut is waiting by the phone for the ACC to please, please call. Ditto Rutgers and the Big Ten or anyone who might provide a lifeboat.
All because of the failed stewardship of John Marinatto? Hardly.
The Big East as an all-sports power conference is simply a flawed notion and always has been. It was transformed from a basketball league into a BCS football conference only because through some means - smoke and mirrors, perhaps? - it had to satisfy the needs of three of its members at the time: Pitt, Syracuse and Boston College. Its growth was then accomplished by providing a landing spot for programs unable to latch on elsewhere - WVU, Miami, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Temple.
But when television began really dominating the landscape with football as the driving force, the league began breaking up because it wasn't built for that. Every fix since then has been of the Band-Aid variety, not because that was the preferred remedy, but because it was the only one.
That the league ultimately disintegrated to the point it now finds itself - relying on battlefield promotions, really - is not as much the fault of Marinatto as it is the wholly unworkable structure of the conference in these times.
Marinatto might have been able to stave of the demise a bit better than he did. He certainly had no call to refer to the latest ship-jumpers as "untrustworthy,'' as he did Monday. Those schools trusted him to keep the league stable and he couldn't. Then again, perhaps no one could.
My everlasting memory of him, in fact, will be from Sept. 17 of last year, when - while waiting in the press box to watch West Virginia play Maryland in College Park - he was informed of the defection of Pitt and Syracuse. That it seemed a complete shock to him was rather alarming.
He should have been more involved and more proactive. The league itself has dawdled far too much, whistling in the graveyard.
But ultimately nothing he or the league could have done - or will do in the future - is likely to revive what was from the very start a flawed idea.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.