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Mike Tranghese invites you to play!

Mike Tranghese is retiring as the head of the Big East after this season, a bigger milestone than it sounds like at the outset: Mike Tranghese was the first and for a time only full-time employee of the conference, meaning lonely mornings at the office making his own coffee, bidding "good morning, Mike!" to himself, and then answering the phone in a high-pitched voice as "Phyllis, who'll be more than happy to transfer to you Mike" before pressing pause and then answering in a much, much deeper voice as "Mike."

Oh, those days have gone. Tranghese developed the conference into a basketball and football power, one that continues to grow in weed-like fashion even if he, in a fit of hyperbole, nearly announced its demise with the departure of Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech five years ago:

''They are going to have to factor in the irreparable harm that is going to be caused to the members of my league,'' Tranghese said during a 30-minute news conference here at the Big East meetings. ''Aside from that, and this will sound self-serving, this will be the most disastrous blow to intercollegiate athletics in my lifetime. It's wrong.''

So perhaps he wasn't always the calm, unwavering hand on the throttle. In fact, in that case, be was the pilot running down the aisle of the plane screaming "BANANAS!" and running for the exits without a chute.

Howver, whether through canny management or blind luck (more likely), exeunt the possible disaster: the ratings finish for the Big East last year, the 13-9 upset of West Virginia, garnered the same ratings (4.1) as the ACC's vaunted championship game (4.1), a matchup placing third in the major conference championship game sweepstakes to the Big 12 and SEC, respectively. The Big East lost three teams and still holds a powerful chair at the filthy, bloodstained card table of the BCS, and Tranghese deserves kudos for sailing them through, or at least being the guy appearing moderately calm when all of this was unfolding around him.

So what if he's head of the BCS, and therefore just a little evil? Evil people can be quite entertainining as long as they're wealthy evil people, and not poor evil people. Evil rich people will concoct elaborate plots to kill you involving hunting you on exotic islands, or force you to hunt people on exotic islands, only to discover you've accidentally shot a high-tension compound bow-driven arrow through your kindergarten teacher in order to win $200 million of the evil wealthy person's money.* (In that case, we're sorry Mrs. Weatherby. We'll be sure to aim for the heart and make it quick.)

(Poor evil people just stab you with bottles and leave you to bleed to death, just like the ACC did to the Big East in 2003. ZANGO!)

Kevin thinks this leads to conference expansion and a split. UCF is huge and willing to drop coin on football--it's the logical choice. Memphis seems a bit far afield, and loaded with liabilities like being Memphis, and therefore eternally sketchy; USM is a bit incongruous geographically, too. Picking up FAU is a gamble, especially once/if Sexy Suspendered Schnellenberger retires.

*Do not attempt to buy We have already reserved the url.