Conference Realignment: Navy-Air Force to the Big East Just Isn't Enough for BCS
Last night, the Pac-12 released a statement saying it would be happy staying at 12 teams and not expanding.
That had huge ramifications across the country, even all the way over to the Big East where it was reported by CBSSports.com later that the conference has been in talks with Navy and Air Force to add them as football-only members.
Commissioner John Marinatto also had this to say about the situation, “There’s no urgency to expand. We don’t need to make a quick decision. We need to make the right decision.”
Navy makes sense geographically but Air Force does not and, more importantly, none of this equates to a conference worthy of an automatic BCS Bowl bid.
The Big East sent an unranked Connecticut team to the Fiesta Bowl last season and now West Virginia and TCU are the only schools with any type of football clout after WVU reportedly getting denied by both the SEC and ACC.
Compared to any other major conference, that is not nearly enough schools. There were a lot of fans upset with the Big East getting an automatic qualifying spot while Pittsburgh and Syracuse were still members.
While neither school is currently that good in football, replacing them with Navy and Air Force is a serious downgrade in terms of quality. Over the past five years, the schools are just 14-26 against teams that are currently in a BCS conference and Notre Dame.
What does that add in terms of quality? Sure, it extends the Big East into the Baltimore/Washington D.C. market and all the way out to Colorado—why they are not considering Army over Air Force is anyone’s guess—but the conference would not be worth much without a BCS bowl bid.
Would the Big East deserve an automatic BCS Bowl bid with Navy and Air Force?
The fact is that kids with serious NFL dreams want to play against the best competition as evidenced by recent recruiting. Currently the only Big East school in the Top 25 per Rivals.com is TCU at No. 20. The next closest are Louisville, South Florida and West Virginia who take 41-43, just ahead of Boise State.
Additionally, Air Force and Navy do not have access to the same recruiting pool as the rest of the conference because no other school will force you to go into the military post graduation. It may have worked before 1960 but it will not cut it in this day and age.
Two of the premier coaches of the league are gone with Brian Kelly taking the Notre Dame job and Randy Edsall getting his “dream job” at Maryland and no one other than Gary Patterson has proven he is up to the task.
Charlie Strong and Dana Holgorsen are the real deal but they will need some time to settle in and by that point, they could already be gone.
At least with Pitt and Syracuse, the conference had the schools’ complete devotion in all sports and got great basketball out of it. Adding Navy and particularly Air Force as football only schools both adds to the perception that the Big East is desperate and detracts from the quality of play in the league.
That is a recipe for failure and should not be rewarded with an automatic qualifying BCS Bowl bid.
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