Big East Expansion: It Is Time for the Football Side To Break Away

Tobi WritesAnalyst IJune 14, 2010

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 02:  Darius Reynaud #2 of the West Virginia Mountaineers runs the ball against the Louisville Cardinals November 2, 20006 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville won 44-34. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Psst... West Virginia!

In case you are unfamiliar with realignment timing, now is your moment.

You have been trapped in a conference that appears likely to crumble around you. It seems likely to either fail or erode to a non-BCS conference.

Hopefully now that the SEC has apparently landed Texas A&M to provide TV numbers, they will offer you the 14th slot.

But what if they don't?

Then you are still looking at a likely raid of Rutgers (and maybe Pitt) by the Big Ten followed by a raid of UCONN and Syracuse (and maybe USF) by the ACC, leaving you, Cincinnati, and Louisville with no conference and no prospects.

A fallback plan.

Your conference has always been hurt by a lack of BCS caliber member schools and the rigidity of the basketball schools in adding someone who might one day hit that level, like UMass.

Well the Big 12 just imploded.  It would be very smart for you to incite a breakaway from the Big East basketball schools to add the Big 12's northern four (Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State) today.

If you leave them floating out there, you could find that your rebuilt Big East, their rebuilt Big 12, and the MWC could all be competing for what might be a single BCS conference automatic qualifier slot.

How it would work

Any of the Big East members could easily find themselves on the outside looking in.  Even Rutgers.  If the Big Ten lands Notre Dame, Rutgers may not be in.

They all have a deep interest in trying protect their BCS standing. 

Pitt may resist doing anything that might potentially agitate Notre Dame.  The Pitt/Notre Dame game is very valuable to them and they probably hope that friendship with Notre Dame will push the Panthers into the Big Ten.

Simply make a showy point to leave Pitt behind.  You can collect the Memphis BCS bounty and add them as your 12th school. 

That leaves Pitt in good standing with Notre Dame and might help their Big Ten push.

(You can  publicly leave open a standing offer to Pitt for a 13th slot if things don't work out with the Big Ten in the next two years.)

Discuss forming it in a way to give terms that allow any team with a likely offer freedom to go if that offer comes through with no exit fees.

You are a BCS automatic qualifier conference. You have a half step lead on the MWC in keeping that status.

In this scenario, even if you suffer those losses you still have seven longtime BCS members (Kansas, KSU, Missou, ISU, Cinnci, Louisville, and West Virginia) and Memphis.   Add non-football teams St. Louis and Creighton and you have an 8/10 BCS conference with outstanding basketball earning potential.

This will still leave you in the drivers seat to retain AQ status.

Unless the Big East miraculously survives unscathed, this is by far the best realistic scenario you will be presented during this realignment.

Update: Sadly, the opportunity has passed. "Key people unrelated to the Big 12 conference" helped broker the new Big 12 TV deal in order to try to stave off massive conference reorganization. Their actions took those 5 left behind Big 12 teams off the board.