Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Big East to Expand It's Umbrella of Mediocrity

First and foremost, the Big East is a basketball conference. The average attendance for home games in the conference is 44,804, which is less than all other major conferences and the D-1 independents of Notre Dame, Army, and Navy. The conference only has two National Championships to it's credit, and that team (Miami) is no longer in the conference.

Being that the conference only has eight teams, there is the danger that it would lose BCS automatic qualifier status. Because the conference as a whole completely stinks, and teams like Utah, Boise State, and TCU are in non-automatic bid conferences, it would be fine for me to not see Cincinnati, South Florida, or West Virginia blown out by LSU, Florida, or Auburn on any given year.

The Big East Board of Directors has been hard at work over the past couple of months in an effort to scour the country for possible interest in joining the conference. The added teams will not be able to participate in basketball, so there are some challenges there. Here are a few teams that look to be candidates and why they would or wouldn't be a good fit:

TCU: The Big East wants TCU only because they're a hot team right now. This won't work for four reasons. TCU would automatically be the best team in that conference, geographically it doesn't make sense, the Mountain West will not allow them to split inclusion of sports, and the Big 12 will be without Colorado and Nebraska after next year. Why would you want to go to a sucky conference like the Big East  and play that far away when you could be in the Big 12? It's not happening.

Houston: Except for the Mountain West caveat, see TCU above.

Villanova: The Wildcats are considered a powerhouse in FCS and are already a member of the Big East in basketball. This makes a lot of sense and will probably get done before the end-of-the-year mandate. It still doesn't add "wow factor" to the conference, but at least it's another team.

UCF: This is the other likely possibility that has been discussed in my opinion. If you weren't aware, UCF is the third largest university in the United States, with an undergraduate enrollment of over 45,000. Geographically this makes sense and there is also a good rivalry that would be captured with South Florida. Former Conference USA members Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati are also now part of the Big East. Marquette and Depaul are also members who switched, but do not have football programs.

Temple: Temple was kicked out of the conference in 2004 after being a founding member. I don't think this is a high possibility. Once bitten, twice shy.

WILDCARD: East Carolina: This hasn't been an option that I've heard about but, to me, looks like a good fit. The Pirates have been a pretty good team lately, winning Conference USA the past two years, and would bring more clout to the conference than UCF. Geographically it makes sense and they also have a recent rivalry with Big East member West Virginia. I think the addition of ECU and Villanova would be the best possibilities, logistically speaking.

Any way you slice it, the Big East will not be a much better league overall unless they somehow manage to slip the Rohypnol into TCU's drink. I just don't see how they manage to do that.

Best of luck Big East Board of Directors. You'll need it.

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