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The Big East Denies Expansion Reports, But The Story Is Far From Over

Just as quickly as those Memphis & UCF rumors popped us yesterday, the Big East threw down with the denials

"Those reports are not true," Marinatto (right) told FanHouse Thursday.

"There is no truth to those reports," Big East associate commissioner John Paquette said.

And other such ways to use the word "true/truth" and "reports" in a sentence.

Now, while it might very well be true that the idea of expansion happening quickly are untrue, the idea that Memphis, UCF and other schools such as East Carolina haven't been chatting with any Big East official they can get in touch with seems ludicrous. 

Remember, Memphis hired former Big East commissioner (and John Marinatto's mentor & friend) Mike Tranghese as a consultant to help them get into a BCS conference.

And UCF has all but thrown itself at the Big East for the past year, thinking that if USF can do it, why can't they?

And East Carolina's athletic director has been openly discussing Big East expansion possibilities on his school website.  Not the kind of thing you do unless you've got a vested interest in the discussion.

Aside from the fact that the Big East NEEDS at least one more football member for common sense scheduling purposes, let alone two teams to get to the magic 10-member number, there's another reason the Big East has to be doing its due diligence right now.  The earthquake that shook NCAA football this week might be over, but the aftershocks are still coming.

Everyone's talked about Rutgers, Syracuse and Pitt to the Big Ten, but forgotten in all this discussion has been West Virginia.  While everyone's been focused on the Scarlet Knights, the Mountaineers have been working the phones and making headway.  West Virginia's The Daily Athenaeum spoke with WVU AD Oliver Luck who, along with the school president, is way too open about their ongoing discussions with...someone...about possibly moving the Mountaineers.

"We have an opportunity … and I will guarantee you that the University administration and now with me on board that we are talking with a lot of folks to make sure we have a potential opportunity should certain contingencies take place."

"I’ve been trying to get the word out. People don’t know that we have the most watched Thursday and Friday night football games on ESPN, so I’m trying to sell that," [University President James P. ] Clements said.

Does that sound like the kind of stuff a school that intends to stay in the Big East says out loud?  If I didn't know any better I'd say West Virginia might not even wait for the Big Ten to poach it's conference mates before making a move.  And if this Arkansas thing gets some legs, the SEC is suddenly going to have a space to fill.  Whether they fill that space with a Big East or ACC team, the aftershocks will commence.

The Big East is apparently holding a conference call on Friday for all of the athletic directors and presidents of member schools.  While the topic of discussion is unknown, it doesn't take a scientist (even a USF one) to know what the reason for chatting is.  As to the specifics, we shall see.

Whether its expanding or contracting or something entirely different altogether, the Big East isn't done, or safe, just yet.