Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather


In search of confidence…
Big East thinks big; UCF first in line?
Audio: Ruffin McNeill Game Week Presser
Big decision ahead for Ruff
Big East saga continues; Military academies in play
Harris/AP/Coaches Polls
Big East ponders next move
Big East expansion pending?

Conference Realignment Archives

Get 'em before they're gone! Bonesville The Magazine print or digital edition...

Big East thinks big; UCF first in line?

From staff and electronic reports
All rights reserved.

After seeing its football-playing membership ranks dwindle to six — and mindful of the potential for additional defections — Big East Conference leaders have decided to consider expanding the league's gridiron lineup to 12 teams.

The conference arrived at a plan on Monday to actively explore adopting a 12-team configuration and begin the process of sorting out which schools to which it would extend invitations.

"On a teleconference earlier today, our presidents and chancellors authorized the Big East Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football-playing schools," league commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.

The schools' executives had on their agenda but did not adopt a plan to increase the exit fee for members departing the conference in the future from $5 million to $10 million.

The New York Times reported in its Internet edition Monday night that the Big East has its eye on Air Force, Navy, Temple, Central Florida and East Carolina and is having "long-shot" discussions about Boise State, Houston and Southern Methodist.

The Big East's six remaining football-playing members are Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia. But multiple reports in recent days have indicated that several of those schools may be actively shopping themselves to other conferences.

The urgency of the league's efforts to solidify its ranks took on more impetus Monday with Texas Christian's formal announcement that it would bypass its scheduled integration into the Big East and instead join the Big 12. The Horned Frogs' course reversal comes less than a month after Big East linchpins Pittsburgh and Syracuse accepted  invitations to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

According to an account published online Monday night by The Boston Globe, the Big East has already shifted into gear to recruit targeted teams. Marinatto and other league representatives contacted Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky and Central Florida officials to express the Big East's interest in the school, the paper reported. The Golden Knights are C-USA members.

The report noted that no formal offer was made but that an invitation and UCF's acceptance are expected to materialize quickly.

East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland, in an interview on Monday night's Brian Bailey Show on Pirate Radio 1250-AM [Replay Show], said that "the makeup of the Big East is still very unsettled." Bailey is sports director of WNCT-TV 9 and a columnist for

Holland predicted that the league will be able to right itself even it loses another member in the chain reaction that might occur as other conferences supplement their lineups.

"There will still be five members of this current (Big East) group but there are plenty of good teams that you can put together to have a nine-team conference and probably even a 12-team conference if the service academies want to go along with that," Holland told Bailey. "I don't anticipate that the Big East will disappear or will lose its automatic qualifications ... no matter what happens. But certainly I do believe there's a very good chance that they will lose another member of the current six once the SEC decides where they're going to pick from."

Much speculation has centered around the likelihood that the Big 12 Conference would invite Cincinnati, Louisville or West Virginia to replace Missouri if the Tigers receive and accept a bid to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

If Missouri does not go to the SEC, Holland said, the SEC is likely to turn to the Atlantic Coast Conference for a candidate to round out its membership to 14 teams, a development that in turn could prompt the ACC to look to Connecticut, or perhaps Rutgers, of the Big East to restore its roster of teams.

Eight Big East members — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova — do not compete in the league in football but do have a strategic stake in reestablishing the stability of the conference.

PAGE UPDATED 10/11/11 09:22 AM.

©2011 and other publishers. All rights rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Game accounts and statistics may be compiled from various sources, including but not limited to staff, East Carolina University, team and Conference USA reports.


©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.