Boise State staying in MWC, won't join Big East
The future of the Big East -- and USF's uncertain future by extension -- took another severe hit on Monday as Boise State -- a centerpiece of the league's future lineup -- announced it has decided to stay in the Mountain West rather than join the Big East as scheduled next summer.
It's only the latest blow in the league's continued downward spiral -- Boise's exit could clear the way for San Diego State to also stay in the Mountain West, with the Aztecs contractually not required to pay any exit fee if Boise leaves and the league has no other West-coast football presence. It's the second time a top-tier football program has announced it's joining the league, only to back out before playing a single game, as TCU did the same in choosing the Big 12 instead of the Big East this year.
The Big East has already taken significant losses -- Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play in the ACC next year, West Virginia already left for the Big 12, and Rutgers is headed to the Big Ten and Louisville to the ACC, the only question being how quickly they can negotiate their departures. The most recent blow was seven non-football members and basketball schools -- DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova -- announcing their intent to leave the league, which will now face a legal battle as to which side has the rights to the Big East's name and its coveted men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden.
The league's continued unraveling comes as the Big East is trying to negotiate a TV rights contract, one that continues to lose value as key members leave for other conferences. As it stands, the league's longterm football lineup has just three schools that were in the league last year -- USF, Cincinnati and Louisville -- along with Temple, which joined this fall, and six Conference USA schools set to join over the next two years: Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU in 2013 and Tulane and East Carolina in 2014. San Diego State is now geographically isolated from the rest of the league, which makes them a logical choice to follow Boise and stay in the MWC. Navy is scheduled to join the league in 2015, but Boise's decision could impact other schools with plans to join the Big East.