The future of the Big East is in a fog. A merger with the Mountain West would be the answer for both conferences.
Now that Boise State has chosen to stay in the Mountain West, the next big move has to come from the Big East. That move should to be the start of talks between the two conferences about a merger creating a 24-team league.
Why you ask?
The Big East has the much needed top media markets and the Mountain West has some quality football programs that need more national exposure.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco, a former television executive with CBS, is a very creative man, and his Mountain West counterpart Commissioner Craig Thompson should be working to create a Super Conference.
There is a chance for the two conferences to be stronger as one than they would be on their own. Plus, they could be a true national conference with some creative scheduling.
The new conference would cover five time zones and be worthy of a long-term television deal with multiple networks that could net both the Mountain West and the Big East more cash together than they would get separately on the open market.
What made Fox, ESPN, NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network interested in the Big East prior to the exodus of Louisville and Rutgers was a coast-to-coast conference. A place that they could start games in all four Saturday broadcast windows—noon, 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
The new conference would have an unprecedented national footprint and could have a strong enough football portfolio to rival the ACC.
I would like to suggest the name Conference America as the new banner for the group.
Under my merger plan, only Army and Navy would be football only members; all other schools would be full conference participants.
Because of the size, the new conference could be set up using four divisions.
The East Division: Army, Navy, Connecticut, Central Florida, East Carolina, South Florida and Temple.
The Midwest Division: Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, SMU, New Mexico and Tulane.
The Mountain Division: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, Utah State and Wyoming.
The West Division: Fresno State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Hawaii and UNLV.
The conference could work out a creative way where all 24 teams would face each other over a three year rotation. The division winners with highest national ranking would face off in a championship game to be played at the home of the team with best record, just like Pac-12.
As for the basketball tournament, there are plenty of good geographical options that can allow for alternating east-west sites.
In the end, the Big East and the Mountain West are stronger and worth more together than they are as separate conferences. Let’s hope the merger talks start soon.