Learning Curve: What's Ahead in New Power League Digs for First-Year Members?

Last spring, self-serving coaches Mike Brey (Notre Dame) and Rick Pitino (Louisville) tried to convince Pittsburgh and Syracuse to stay put with them in the fraying Big East Conference. Well, circumstances and spiels can change in a hurry.

Brey was singing the ACC's praises after Notre Dame announced it will join the league ASAP with Pitt and the Orange. And was there any doubt that nomadic Louisville, which was already affilated with four different leagues in the last 40 years, was next to abandon ship for a higher profile loop when a slot opened up in the ACC upon Maryland's departure to the Big Ten? Perhaps Pitino would have been obligated to remain in the Big Easy (after most of the power went out), but his salvage job brainstorm of hiring ESPN analyst Jay Bilas as commissioner didn't gain any traction.

Final Four matchups such as Memphis/Providence (1973), Georgetown/Louisville (1982), Georgetown/Houston (1984) and Memphis/Villanova (1985) were great in the view of Big East visionary Dave Gavitt, but they're not what he had in mind for regional regular-season conference competition when the league was introduced at the start of the 1980s. Half of the Big East's 14-member lineup in 2003-04 will be gone upon the latest ACC-bound defections. The Big East would have had as many members (seven) from Conference USA's 2004-05 alignment next year if Texas Christian didn't renege on its commitment, switching gears for the Big 12. If the C-USA wasn't considered a power conference, then why should a stitched-together Big Least?

Louisville, Maryland, Notre Dame, Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse should keep an eye on how Missouri, Texas A&M, TCU and West Virginia make the transition to new digs. History shows that it frequently is a difficult adjustment. Fans of Mizzou, A&M and TCU are hoping their woeful non-conference slates don't leave the newcomers ill-prepared for the rigors of competing in a new league.

There is good reason to be anxious. Only seven of the last 24 schools to join power conferences, including three of the first 11 since 2005-06, posted a winning league record in their inaugural campaign. Arkansas is the only school to win a championship in its debut campaign in a power league (1991-92 in SEC Western Division after leaving SWC). Boston College (2005-06) and Florida State (1991-92) posted the next best first-year league marks in the ACC, where Notre Dame, Pitt and Syracuse will strive to duplicate their performances.

The average conference record for the last 24 schools in this category is four games below .500. Michigan State posted a comparable anemic mark (5-9) in its first season in the Big Ten in 1950-51. Following is a look at the first-year league records compiled by schools joining an existing power alliance since Arizona and Arizona State left the WAC for the Pac-8/10 in the late 1970s:

Power School 1st Year New League (Mark/Finish) Previous League
Arizona 1978-79 Pac-10 (10-8/T4th) Western Athletic
Arizona State 1978-79 Pac-10 (7-11/T6th) Western Athletic
Arkansas 1991-92 Southeastern (13-3/1st in West) Southwest
Boston College 2005-06 Atlantic Coast (11-5/3rd) Big East
Cincinnati 2005-06 Big East (8-8/8th) Conference USA
Colorado 2011-12 Pac-12 (11-7/T5th) Big 12
DePaul 2005-06 Big East (5-11/T13th) Conference USA
Florida State 1991-92 Atlantic Coast (11-5/2nd) Metro
Georgia Tech 1979-80 Atlantic Coast (1-13/8th) Metro
Louisville 2005-06 Big East (6-10/T11th) Conference USA
Marquette 2005-06 Big East (10-6/T4th) Conference USA
Miami (Fla.) 1991-92 Big East (1-17/10th) independent
Miami (Fla.) 2004-05 Atlantic Coast (7-9/T6th) Big East
Missouri 2012-13 Southeastern (TBD) Big 12
Nebraska 2011-12 Big Ten (4-14/T11th) Big 12
Notre Dame 1995-96 Big East (4-14/6th in BE 6) independent
Penn State 1992-93 Big Ten (2-16/11th) Atlantic 10
Pittsburgh 1982-83 Big East (6-10/6th) Eastern 8
Rutgers 1995-96 Big East (6-12/6th in BE 7) Atlantic 10
South Carolina 1991-92 Southeastern (3-13/6th in East) Metro
South Florida 2005-06 Big East (1-15/16th) Conference USA
Texas A&M 2012-13 Southeastern (TBD) Big 12
Texas Christian 2012-13 Big 12 (TBD) Mountain West
Utah 2011-12 Pac-12 (3-15/11th) Mountain West
Villanova 1980-81 Big East (8-6/T3rd) Eastern Athletic Association
Virginia Tech 2000-01 Big East (2-14/7th in East) Atlantic 10
Virginia Tech 2004-05 Atlantic Coast (8-8/T4th) Big East
West Virginia 2012-13 Big 12 (TBD) Big East