Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Brey Fires Back at Boeheim; Can Imagine Irish in ACC
NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — If it seems like a week doesn’t pass without one high-profile Division 1 coach taking a shot at another school or coach, that’s because it’s been going on for some time now.
Already we’ve seen Louisville coach Rick Pitino fire shots at UConn’s flirtation with the ACC, calling it the “dumbest thing” he’s ever heard of.
Pitino and Kentucky coach John Calipari have also engaged in an entertaining Bluegrass back-and-forth.
Now here comes Notre Dame coach Mike Brey answering back at Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim.
Speaking in an exclusive interview Friday with SNY.tv, Brey said he did not appreciate Boeheim blaming Notre Dame for the breakup of the Big East and the defection of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC.
“We may have been the only school in the league whose agenda was always clear,” Brey said during Howard Garfinkel’s ‘Clinic to End All Clinics’ at Iona College. “Everybody else’s agenda was a little tricky here lately. Everybody knew what we wanted. This is what we’re doing. Independent football — we’re going to give you some [football] games — and we’re in [the Big East] with everything else. We have never wavered on that.
“Everybody else has been dancing and datin’ and sneakin’ around…so I feel that was a little bit of a cheap shot. But you know, there’s a lot of cheap shots going around right now.”
There sure are.
Brey was responding to comments Boeheim recently made on Syracuse radio station WSKO.
“We’re leaving a 17-team Big East Conference that’s going to include a team from Texas, Florida, Chicago, Wisconsin, Kentucky. We’re not leaving what we founded. We’re leaving something completely different,” Boeheim said. “Obviously, it was unstable, and a couple of people criticizing this are people that could have saved the Big East. If Notre Dame wanted to save the Big East, they could have joined in 2004 and we wouldn’t be having these discussions today.
“But they didn’t want to.”
Brey said he “wants badly to stay in the Big East,” but called TCU’s departure to the Big 12 “another blow, and we seem to be taking a lot of body blows right now.”
“That was the most powerful football program out there that we could snatch and we couldn’t get it done,” he added of TCU.
Brey confessed he can imagine the Irish playing in a number of other leagues, including the ACC.
“Right now in the last month I’ve envisioned us as part of the Big East rebuilt, as part of the ACC, as part of the Big Ten and maybe as part of the Big 12,” Brey said. “I’ve gone through them all in my mind. And quite frankly about two days ago I came to the conclusion I’m driving myself crazy. And that’s what my AD [Jack Swarbrick] has been dealing with for two years so I feel for him.”
Brey added that Notre Dame needs an alternate plan if the Big East falls apart.
“We’ve got to have Plan B in order because there’s days, like [Thursday], that this doesn’t look very good and we know that the rest of our [Big East] football programs are trying to get our right now,” he said. “If they can’t get out, then maybe we can keep this thing going. If they get out, though, then we gotta start looking at other options.”
Though Pitino has said he would like to see the Big East stay together, the Big 12 may now target some combination of Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati to bring the league to 12 teams after TCU joins.
Brey said Notre Dame would like to maintain its independence in football, but may inevitably have to join one of the four super-conferences should they eventually form.
“We’re trapped a little bit but we gotta keep an eye on things because if it gets to four conferences and our football program isn’t in one of them and then can’t play for the national championship, then all bets are off and we gotta rethink the whole thing,” he said. “I don’t think we’re at that yet, but it sure seems like it’s coming in the future.”
As far as the Big East’s options going forward, Brey would like to see the league add some combination of Temple, Memphis and Houston to replace Syracuse and Pitt.
“I think Temple would be great,” he said. “I want Memphis because we need basketball star power because we’ve lost some. Memphis brings a basketball program, and we’ve just lost two horses. We need to be mindful of our basketball stuff. And I think Houston can give us a little bit. Memphis really gives you that star power.
“I like a Temple and a Memphis and a Houston because of their basketball. I don’t really care about their football.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.