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Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin enjoying the Big East while it lasts

Jan 5, 2013, 12:04 AM EDT

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin reacts during the first half of the men's NCAA East Regional basketball game against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Boston

It has to be a bittersweet season for Mick Cronin and his Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincinnati started off the season with 12 straight wins, before a tough home loss to New Mexico. The Bearcats bounced back to beat No. 24 Pitt on the road to open Big East conference play.

Along with Louisville, Syracuse, and Georgetown, Cincinnati should battle for the top of the Big East standing this season. However, it’ll be the last real time Cronin and his team play Big East ball.

Conference realignment has Syracuse, Louisville, Pitt, and Notre Dame heading to the ACC, while Rutgers goes to the Big Ten, and the remaining seven Catholic schools leaving to form a new league. This leaves teams like Cincy, UConn, and South Florida scattering for a new home.

According to Bill Koch of Cincinnati.com, Cronin is set on embrace the Big East and the tradition.

“Just enjoy it while I can,” Cronin told Koch. “That’s the way I look at it. Lamenting about things that you can’t control is really a waste of your time and energy.

“The whole thing is tragic because the 16-team Big East that I had to come into in last place and try to build our way up and made it all the way to the championship game is something that I’ll always be really proud of,” added Cronin. “I’d love to try to win it in maybe the last year it’s all together. I’m sure there’s a lot of coaches that feel that way. It’s really been a golden era of Big East basketball.”

In December, Cronin, just like several Big East coaches have done in the past, sounded off against conference realignment.

“It’s a shame that football, one sport, has dictated all this and the money that one sport apparently is swinging around and swaying universities to make the decisions. We’re sitting here in a state where the state school is 800 miles from its closest road game. It’s ridiculous. Don’t tell me that people care about student-athletes.”

Cronin leads his Bearcats in their Big East home opener against St. John’s Saturday at 4 p.m.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne