We know an awful lot about the numbers. What we don't know about are the numbers.
For days now, even with the official Big East divorce announcement pending, we have known that UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida will get $20 million to $25 million as a nifty consolation prize for being jilted.
For days we have watched Rupert Murdoch demonstrate that he wanted the Catholic basketball schools and the Big East name so badly that he was willing to pay each more than $3 million a year to convince them to leave behind a pile of money and join his upstart Fox Sports 1 network. More than that, Murdoch did it quicker than the Catholics could pick a new pope.
If there was a dollar sign to be put in front of a number, you could bet those numbers would be leaking out from behind closed doors. Even as everyone awaited a Big East announcement that didn't come Thursday, ESPN, which will continue to broadcast the league UConn plays in, reported "America 12" has emerged as the favorite for the conference's new name.
But what about the other numbers? The competitive numbers? The numbers without the dollar signs? What about all those Big East blocks by Patrick Ewing? What about the career league record 1,405 points by Lawrence Moten of Syracuse? What about the single game record 52 points by Providence's Marshon Books against Notre Dame?
Where do they go? Where do the team and individual records, the data that quantifies three decades of memories go?
In basketball, does the Big East (Catholic schools) start over? Or does it carry the old numbers with it.
In football, since there technically is no Big East, do all the numbers disappear? Or does the "America 12" get to keep them?
Or do all the numbers and all the awards, in all the sports, from Seton Hall's Mo Vaughn in baseball to UConn's Maurizio Rocha in soccer, gather dust in the great forgotten bin of history?
"Good question, I do not know." Big East associate commissioner John Paquette answered in an email Thursday. "When the settlement is final, I may be able to give you an answer."
There is no commissioner yet for the new Big East. The old Big East, at least for now, will continue its headquarters in Providence. These are crazy times. At UConn, the school is careful to point out that $20 million is not like hitting the lottery. Television revenue will be significantly less, the cost of travel in the league will be more, and while the payoff should keep UConn moving along well for the next few years, the money also isn't arriving with one dramatic payoff. It will be distributed over a number of years. As we said, we have answers for numbers that follow dollar signs.
But what about that 555-yard passing game Brian Brohm put up for Louisville against Syracuse? Or the 4,385 yards Geno Smith of West Virginia threw for in 2011? Or the seven touchdown passes Mike Teel of Rutgers and Pete Gonzalez of Pitt threw?
Does Donald Brown's Big East rushing record of 2,083 yards, that eclipsed Ray Rice, come along with UConn to the new league? Or not?
Four of the existing eight football teams, including Temple, which rejoined in 2011, are moving to the "America 12," and at 50 percent that's superior to the seven of 15 basketball schools (47 percent) that are taking the Big East name with them.
That, in itself, introduces a rather interesting point. The Catholic schools are bolting the Big East, the Big East is not bolting the Catholic schools. Yet the Big East sold the name of the league to those schools so Fox could immediately market its new acquisition, keep the tournament in Madison Square Garden and maybe even pretend that this all is an unbroken chain to the '80s. Butler? Xavier? Ewing? Pearl Washington? Ray Allen? Kemba Walker? All in Murdoch's pocket, right?
I don't know if the records already have been negotiated in the deal, but if they haven't it won't take long for Fox to covet them. Let's be honest. If the Catholic schools don't take the records, it will be painfully apparent they bought the Big East name only for marketing purposes. Ultimately the bottom line is what matters for all leagues, but who wants to be known for ditching their own history?
It is almost nauseating, however, to think the Big East could sail into the future, promoting the fact that its women's programs have won eight national titles and advanced to 20 Final Fours. That's because UConn has seven of those eight and 13 of the 20. Notre Dame, with the other national title, Rutgers and Louisville have combined for the other seven Final Fours. The seven schools that will form the Big East? None. UConn has 37 combined Big East regular season and tournament titles since 1982.
On Tuesday night, Notre Dame, bound for the ACC, and UConn figure to play for the 14th time since 2010 in what has developed into a rivalry second to none in women's basketball. It could be a great one, maybe approaching the greatness of the 2001 Big East final when Sue Bird drove the length of the floor for the most dramatic of winners.
On one hand, it would be a joke for the Big East to lay claim to any of that. On the other, it's kind of sad that the ink of the score sheet of this last game would disappear as fast as it hit the paper. In my head, I know starting over on the records is the right thing, the fairest course, but it's a shame to lose them to time.
I have refused to turn maudlin about these final days of the Big East. There is no romance in conference-raiding. There is no romance in student-athleticism being a front from shameless institutional greed. Yet having said that, I have come to so love the games themselves that it is shame the numbers would either disappear or be warped to fit a business plan.
On his website, A Jersey Guy, Mark Blaudschun pushed for the Big Metro Athletic Conference and calling it the Big Mac. He then promoted the idea of signing McDonald's as a partner to bring in money, recognition and a younger target audience. A few years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea as shamelessly commercial, called it a Whopper. Given Blaudschun's contacts in the Big East, however, I've been thinking maybe he knows something I don't.
That's how commercially perverse this all has become.
I have to give credit. Phil Chardis first brought up the numbers before the game at Cincinnati last weekend. Phil covered the Big East from its inception for the Manchester Journal Inquirer until he became the UConn men's basketball sports information director. He cares about Big East history as much as anybody alive.
"What do they do?" Chardis said.
"Don't know," I answered. And then I paused and said, "I do know …
"One of the leagues will get a corporate sponsor for all the records and then name them."
And not because it was funny.