Embattled Big East
takes another blow
From staff and electronic reports
All rights reserved.
Barely two weeks after after announcing an
aggressive push to not only replace departing members, but to
also expand to a 12-team football alignment, the Big East
Conference is losing more ground before it can convince new
enlistees to join up.
Groping for a means to salvage its Bowl
Championship Series automatic qualifying status in the wake of
the announced defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Texas
Christian to more stable conferences, the Big East will also
lose football flagship West Virginia, multiple news
organizations reported on Tuesday.
The Mountaineers have agreed to accept an
invitation to replace Missouri in the Big 12 Conference upon the
Tigers' anticipated departure for the Southeastern Conference.
West Virginia's entry into the Big 12 would keep the league at
10 teams if Mizzou joins the SEC as expected.
The Charleston (WV) Daily Mail reported
Tuesday evening that if the Tigers unexpectedly decide to spurn
the SEC and stay with the Big 12, WVU will become the league's
11th team. Such a development could be the harbinger of a plan
by the Big 12 to expand to 12 teams, implying the potential for
another raid on the Big East. Candidates for the final spot
would include Louisville and Cincinnati.
Since the Big East announced its plan to
regroup and grow, it has instead been unable to soothe its
current teams and has struggled to solidify deals with the
collection of new additions it has targeted to help reinforce
the league's chances of retaining its guaranteed berth in one of
the lucrative BCS bowls when the current BCS agreement expires
after the 2013 season.
Before the other shoe dropped with news of
West Virginia's impending departure, the Big East had staked its
future on attracting Navy, Air Force and gridiron juggernaut
Boise State as football only members and Central Florida,
Houston and Southern Methodist as all-sports members.
If WVU were still in the mix, the addition of
all six of those schools with Boise State being the linchpin
in terms of helping prop up the Big East's BCS AQ credibility
would have increased the league's membership to 12, opening the
possibility for an inter-divisional championship game.
In light of the tumult in the Big East's
ranks, Navy, Air Force and Boise State were already taking a
wait-and-see approach before committing to the league's terms.
The bombshell news about the exit of West Virginia is likely to
magnify their caution and may scare them off completely.
Even more turmoil may be in store for the Big
The five football-playing schools currently,
if tentatively, still planted in the Big East are Cincinnati,
Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida. It is a
foregone conclusion that Cincinnati and Louisville will put
themselves forward as candidates if the Big 12 adds one or more
The governor of Connecticut has openly talked
about the Huskies being suitable for membership in the Atlantic
Coast Conference. Rutgers is thought to be a potential Big Ten
target if that league decides to establish a northeastern
presence for TV demographics purposes.
The Kansas City Star reported on Monday that
Notre Dame, a member of the Big East in all sports except
football and hockey, has been identified by the Big 12 as a
"possible future candidate," presumably as an associate member
retaining its football independence.
If the Big East elects to forge ahead with
its plan to expand its football membership to 12, Army, Brigham
Young, East Carolina, Memphis, Temple and Villanova are among
the possible candidates identified by various media outlets to
fill the gap left by WVU. ECU applied for Big East membership a
few weeks ago, but the league's cloudy future in combination
with other developments may prompt the Pirates and others among
that group of potential target schools to be reluctant to commit
to the conference at this time.
ESPN.com, citing multiple reports, reported
Tuesday night that the Big East is now considering a
collaboration with Conference USA and the Mountain West
Conference to form a 28- to 32-team, nationwide, football super
conference. The objective would be to position the super
conference for inclusion as an automatic qualifier in the next
round of BCS negotiations.
The contemplated super conference would in
effect head off a looming showdown over AQ status between the
Big East and the
22-team football alliance announced
earlier this month by C-USA and the MWC.
10/26/11 08:19 AM.
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