Expansion Speculation: Big East Takes the Offensive

Art VandelayCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2010

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 13: Isaiah Pead #23 of the Cincinnati Bearcats is grabbed by J.T. Thomas #30 of the West Virginia Mountaineers in the fourth quarter of the game at Nippert Stadium on November 13, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The more I read and think about the new Big 12 (the one with only 10 teams), the more I kind of laugh to myself and scoff at it. 

There's so much dissension and animosity already (Texas Tech coach Tommy Tubberville has already stated that he doesn't think it will exist in five years) that current members are already developing escape plans.

So where does the Big East fit into this?

With the Big East being extremely vulnerable in and of itself, as Rutgers, Syracuse and Pitt (and obviously Notre Dame) are all attractive options for both the Big Ten and ACC, it's time that it solidify itself, bringing stability as a long-term alliance of schools.

Now, this is not so much speculation on what I think the Big East is doing, as much as it's what I think they should be doing.

I'm a big proponent of Frank the Tank's web log, and he has proposed for some time that the Big East invite TCU and one other school, going up to 18 schools for basketball and 10 for football.

I have to say, in an attempt to be an athletically viable conference in football, this seems like a no-brainer to me, especially if they ever hope to get a decent TV deal.

But I'm going to take Frank's proposition one step further. 

Why not expand to 20 and 12 teams in their respective sports, and effectively destroy the Big 12 (the one with 10 teams), and get first choice of the optional teams?

When expansion happened earlier this summer, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State were almost left behind for scraps from the Mountain West or the WAC.

While there has been an oral promise for Texas A&M and the other conference members to receive an exorbitant amount of money from a new TV deal, nothing is in writing.

Now A&M is talking about "leaving their options open" and joining the SEC, Texas Tech is openly displeased and pessimistic, and all the while it seems like Texas is going to go independent.

If I'm one of the aforementioned schools that were almost left hanging once already, what are my options when this conference breaks up?

What if the Big East were to extend invites to some combination of TCU, Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech (who could be left hanging if Texas goes independent), Oklahoma (who would otherwise be forced to go independent if the SEC doesn't open up a spot), Oklahoma State, and Kansas State sometime soon?

I don't think Oklahoma would ever join, no matter what, but I think every other school would consider it.

At that point, the Big East doesn't have to worry if the ACC or Big Ten poach one or two teams, and they'd have more expansion options if they do lose a couple, because they could always go west.

Plus, they'd be able to hold a conference championship game, bringing in more revenue to the least wealthy BCS conference.

Adding Kansas would further legitimize them as the premier basketball conference.