Big domino falls: WVU reportedly to Big 12
The Big East continues to be raided by other BCS football conferences, with multiple national reports Tuesday stating that West Virginia is headed to the Big 12 as soon as Missouri leaves for the SEC, leaving the Big East with five football schools.
For weeks, there has been speculation that West Virginia or Louisville would be the top choice for the Big 12 as it seeks a replacement for Missouri, and CBSSports.com and ESPN.com reported Tuesday that West Virginia has emerged as the Big 12's choice. Since the start of football season, the Big East has now lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, with West Virginia now joining TCU in the Big 12, gutting the Big East of many of its top programs.
What does it mean for USF? Two questions remain: Will the Big 12 stay at 10 teams or seek two more schools in expansion, and if the latter, can USF convince the conference to expand into Florida? And, absent that, which of the teams the Big East has been courting can still be convinced to join as football members now that the conference's top program in recent years is leaving?
CBS Sports reported that Big East commissioner John Marinatto met this weekend with officials from Boise State, Navy, Houston, SMU and Central Florida; Air Force has also been discussed as an expansion candidate. The site also reported that the western schools are lobbying for the Big East to pursue BYU to replace West Virginia as a 12th member of the league. Big East schools last week voted to raise the football exit fee from $5 million to $10 million, but the higher fee isn't triggered until a new school is committed to join the league.
Losing West Virginia is a serious blow to the Big East's hopes of continuing as an automatic-qualifying BCS league, though a new lineup bolstered by Boise State and BYU could still have the national rankings to keep such status, though at the sacrifice of any reasonable geographic borders.
The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy on Monday reported that "there is some quiet buzz ... that the Big 12 might be interested in invading the South to select USF" if it expanded to 12 teams.