Big East: Quantity Doesn't Replace Quality in 2012 Conference Expansion

Zach CampbellCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2012

It's official; the Big East is in full-on survival mode. That was made abundantly clear when it was reported by ESPN that Memphis would be the next program to join the floating colony of misfit programs that is the new Big East.

Memphis, hoping for a 2013 arrival date, will be joining San Diego State, UCF, SMU, Boise State and Navy as the latest additions to the ailing Big East conference. 

It's important to note that this isn't the first time the conference has had to reload. In 2005, South Florida, Connecticut, Louisville and Cincinnati were brought on board to help restore balance to the conference after Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College defected to the ACC. 

The hope, then, was that the new blood would be able to quickly get up to speed and compete at a high level. It's no secret that that hope was never fully realized.

Sure, there have been bright spots from each program, and a few BCS appearances, but what little success that the bulk of the conference has seen since the first mass migration has basically forced the Big East to fight week in and week out to prove it should keep it's AQ card. 

Here we are now in 2012 and it seems that Murphy's law has gone viral throughout the Big East conference. 

Syracuse and Pittsburgh are ACC bound and West Virginia, one of the league's two members to win in a BCS bowl, is the Big 12's newest member. So that leaves... well, no one really. 

I suppose you can't blame John Marinatto for trying. I mean, he is trying to maintain some kind of semblance of a football conference. But if Memphis, SDSU and Central Florida are meant to be mortar to patch up the cracks, then the building has already crumbled. 

The Big East was, at one point, looked at as a legitimate conference. Hard to believe, I know, but Miami under Larry Coker and Michael Vick-era Virginia Tech headlined the Big East while West Virginia was up and coming under the watch of Rich Rodriguez. 

That vigor, though, was short lived; gone before anyone really had a chance to enjoy it. Now, the Big East is facing the harsh, unrelenting reality that it has entered the realm of the mid-majors. 

How long until the AQ status is stripped, you ask?  Will West Virginia be in the Big East through 2012, is the bigger question. The 70-33 beatdown the Mountaineers handed Clemson proves that West Virginia is for real. If legal limbo results in a favorable decision for the Big East, WVU will have to wait out its move to the Big XII.  

However the recent cancellation of West Virginia's trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State gives more credence to West Virginia's impending jump to the Big XII for the 2012 season.

That means that the Big East's only current heavy-hitter is heading for greener pastures.  

The reality of college football today is that it sits on top of very restless topography. The more powerful the conference, the less shake up there is. The Big East is a paper tiger of sorts. It's time feigning as a relevant football conference is more or less at its end as it reaches its breaking point. 

Basketball will still be there as that is the one thing that new-comer Memphis can add to the equation. Boise is certainly an intriguing addition as their success in recent years has people wondering if they are able to shoulder the load of an entire conference.

It might not matter.

The future of the Big East is all but written. The so-called "reconfiguration" of the conference is nothing more than a last-ditch attempt to stop the leaking, and it's a weak attempt at that.

There is, of course, the chance that current and future members Louisville and Cincinatti will be able to collect wins and build prestige, but how much time will that take?

It's not as if the Big East has time in large supply.  

So it comes down to this. The Big East stockpiling mid-major, can't-hack-it programs in an effort to weather the storm. Will it work? One can only hope.

Personally, the mad grab occurring right now strikes me as a requiem. If this is indeed a dying act by the Big East, best to stop inviting people along for the ride.