Following the departure of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and TCU, the Big East had nowhere else to turn but west to find teams to join their conference.
Unfortunately for the Big East, it looks like one of their main targets will not be joining.
According ESPN, the Cougars demanded that they maintain their rights to all home football games, but the Big East said no. So now BYU will not be joining the conference.
Assuming these reports are true, what is next for the conference?
Clearly the first step must be to secure other members from the west. BYU would have been the first school to join from the anticipated “West division,” and now the conference seems as unstable as ever.
The only way it survives is by expanding to the west, and it needs one school to take the initial leap in order to secure more.
The best bet to do that would be to officially invite Houston into the conference. The Cougars are 11-0, in the Top 10 in the BCS Standings and are poised to get into a BCS Bowl. The current Big East leader is Louisville and it is unranked with a 6-5 overall record.
The conference desperately needs a school that is nationally relevant, and Houston brings that to the table in a big way, at least for the moment.
The other option would be to get Boise State on board, but that may be tougher because it is much further west than Houston. It would seem as though the Broncos would need more assurance that a West division would form before joining themselves.
It really cannot be understated how important BYU not joining the Big East is for the future of the conference. Not only does it lose one of the best schools available in conference expansion, but it also loses the stability it seemed to gain in recent weeks with the promise of a western school joining.
If commissioner John Marinatto does not act soon, he may be without a job within the next couple years.