Big East Expansion: Who's In, Who's out and Who's on the Fence?
It wasn't that long ago that Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia announced that they would be departing for various conferences. The Big East seemed doomed for failure and would likely lose their automatic BCS bid.
Many media outlets were arguing if the Big East could even survive. However, just a few short months later, the Big East could be primed to be better than ever.
You must commend the leaders of the Big East for responding with a solid game plan and then going to all depths to see the plan come to fruition.
In this article, we will look at the four teams that are going to be members of the Big East in the near future and three schools that could be close to joining.
The SMU Mustangs Are in
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
It is hard to believe that Southern Methodist University is now considered a strong addition to the Big East conference but it is factual. The Mustangs are back on their way up with the hiring of June Jones as their head coach.
Prior to the arrival of Jones, the Mustangs had won a total of 58 games over the previous 19 seasons. Jones went 1-11 in his inaugural season with SMU. However, since that time, the Mustangs are 22-16 and have been bowl eligible all three seasons.
Winning seven games in a season might not sound like much, but when the program was averaging fewer than three the previous 20 seasons, that is pretty impressive.
The Mustangs are also in the Texas market, which is good for TV and recruiting.
The Houston Cougars Are in
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
The Houston Cougars are a solid addition to the Big East just on the Houston market alone. What they will be in football is a little tougher to discern. This season, the Cougars are 11-0 and primed for a BCS bowl game.
Under head coach Kevin Sumlin, the Cougars are an impressive 34-16. However, a lot of that credit has to go to senior quarterback Case Keenum.
In 2010, the Cougars started the season 2-1 with Keenum as the quarterback. However, he was injured in the third game of the season and was out for the season.
The Cougars lost seven of their next 10 games without Keenum. Will they be able to remain competitive with Keenum graduating this season? It is hard to say, but Sumlin seems to be a solid coach.
Regardless, this sets up a decent Texas market with Houston and SMU.
The UCF Knights Are in
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The University of Central Florida has been making a name for themselves in recent years and have agreed to join the Big East and become a BCS school.
The Golden Knights are struggling through a disappointing 4-7 season, but made a big splash last season when they defeated the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs 10-6 in the Liberty Bowl to finish the season, 11-3.
UCF is coached by George O’Leary and he has the Knights on the rise. This is an excellent addition for the Big East because UCF is in a solid market and has a strong recruiting base.
The Boise State Broncos Are in
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
This is the move that everyone has been waiting on with Boise State joining a BCS conference. Over the past 10 seasons, the Broncos have a combined record of 122-17.They have defeated several top notch BCS programs in bowl games and season openers. However, they have been criticized for playing in such a weak conference.
If the Broncos are able to continue their success, they will have a stronger argument and greater opportunities. The Broncos will lose stud quarterback Kellen Moore next season. The big question is if they will be able to continue their success without him.
Moore holds the NCAA wins record and has had very few bad games in his career. As a result, it is hard to tell if his success is the main factor in the team’s success.
This also is a great addition for the Big East because win or lose, people love watching Boise State. Some to cheer against them and some to cheer for them, but almost every college football fan has their eyes on them.
Air Force and Navy Are on the Fence
U.S. Navy/Getty Images
If Air Force and Navy join the Big East, it would further solidify their conference as a legit BCS conference. The addition of these military academies would enhance the appeal of watching these conferences.
Air Force and Navy do not always field great teams. However, they are almost always competitive, and as a fan, it is an honor to watch men play football who are willing to die for my freedom.
These two schools are unlikely to compete for the championship each season, but on certain years, they will. Moreover, they will bring a greater since of pride and integrity to the league.
From a business standpoint, most people share my respect for these programs. People want to cheer for them to do well. This allows the Big East to become a league that can align themselves with these type of schools.
The BYU Cougars Are on the Fence
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
The addition of BYU would bring a national appeal that most conferences cannot enjoy. If the Big East adds BYU, they and Boise State will become the corner stone of a new western division. When the SEC says west, Arkansas is as far as it goes. However, the Big East could have a legit Eastern and Western division.
With the task of replacing Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia, the Big East was struggling to remain relevant. However, they are taking an approach that would make them impossible to deny.
BYU would be the icing on the cake for the Big East. In my opinion, this would make them stronger than they were before the announced departure of the aforementioned schools.
BYU would bring a strong football program with solid academics and high moral standards. Who would have thought that the Big East could rebound so strongly?