Has dust settled for Big East to expand to 12?
With one more departure official -- the Big East confirmed Friday that West Virginia has notified the conference of its intention to join the Big 12 -- commissioner John Marinatto has a window in which to extend invitations and add much-needed stability to the conference's football lineup.
"This move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise," Marinatto said in a statement Friday. "We have taken West Virginia's possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans. ... We are confident that in the coming weeks we will complete our own realignment program, adding a number fo high-quality members to remain among the top conferences in both football and basketball."
After speculation that the Big 12 could take West Virginia and Louisville from the Big East, national reports have the Big 12 staying put at 10 teams, which gives the Big East five remaining football teams (USF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers) from which to build a new 12-team league. Marinatto has been out west courting new additions Boise State and Air Force, with invitations expected for Navy and Conference USA's Houston, SMU and Central Florida as well. The league has options for a 12th team to replace West Virginia, whether it be appeasing the new schools out west by bringing in BYU, or taking a program like Temple or Memphis to reach out to its basketball members.
For the first time in a long six weeks of uncertainty about the Big East's football future, there is a date for a possible solution: Tuesday, when the league's presidents and athletic directors convene in Philadelphia for their annual meeting. It's expected that invitations could be formally extended at that point, allowing the Big East to then unveil its new lineup, which could in turn allow for negotiations to have Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia leave earlier than their contractual 27 months of notice.
If all the reported additions join the Big East, the new 12-team lineup should be strong enough to maintain the conference's automatic BCS bid, with Boise State running consistently in the top 10 nationally in recent years and Houston rising in the polls as one of only eight unbeatens remaining in I-A football.
What are your thoughts on the projected new Big East? Stronger than the current eight-team lineup? Easier or harder for USF to win?