The news began to break late Thursday evening, while some of us were beginning to doze off. But this being 2012, you don't go to bed without the world of social media always within reach, so the rumors of Butler leaving the Atlantic 10 after just a few months wavered between “Is this real?” and “Am I dreaming one of those nonsensical dreams?”
According to a report in the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee, I wasn't dreaming at all. Though, now awake and completely coherent, I am now.
Butler has officially joined the ranks of big-time basketball if the reported scenario unfolds as expected.
The report stated that seven Catholic institutions (DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, St. John's, and Georgetown) will soon leave the crumbling Big East and both Butler and Xavier will join them to form a new basketball-oriented (other sports aside from football would also compete) conference.
So within a year, the Bulldogs, as one tweet put it, will go from playing Youngstown (State) in the Horizon League to Georgetown. That is one heckuva upgrade.
The report said that Georgetown has not quite signed off on the deal, but is expected to. Staying in the Big East, which now includes teams from sea (San Diego State) to shining sea (Connecticut), with a whole lot of mediocrity (Tulane? seriously) mixed in, really isn't a viable option for the storied Hoya program.
As far as Butler is concerned, this will elevate the Bulldog program to heights never dreamed of a just a number of months ago.
Certainly Butler jumped into the national consciousness with a pair of consecutive appearances in the national basketball championship game (2010 and 2011). However, when the confetti cleared, the fact remained that the Bulldogs were still competing in the Horizon League with the likes of Youngstown State and Green Bay. That resonated with recruits, who mostly seek to be big time in name as much as actual accomplishment.
When the Bulldogs signed on with the Atlantic 10 last May, it was an absolute upgrade. However, travelling to New York annually to face Fordham isn't comparable to making the same trip to battle St. John's in Madison Square Garden.
The report stated that several issues such as the name of the league, which could possibly remain the “Big East,” continue to be on the bargaining table, as well as additional schools such as Saint Louis, Dayton, Creighton, or Virginia Commonwealth joining as well.
The addition of Butler would allow the possibility of a post-season conference tournament being played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, as well as the continued development of its long-standing rivalry with Xavier.
As with most conference realignments, this situation is fluid and could be different by lunchtime today. However, if there is a shred of truth to the situation, it appears that Butler is again headed for a place that will have Bulldog Nation happily dreaming today away.