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Big East Expansion: Do The Marines Play Football, Too?

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The Big East Presidents have moved into seek-and-try-not-to-be-destroyed mode by authorizing the conference to "engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools."

Like everything else the Big East does, it's a smart idea done five years too late. Reactionary instead of preemptive. Might as well carve that phrase on the conference's gravestone, whenever that's made.

As we've been hearing for a whole, Navy and Air Force are likely a part of that expansion. With NY State's Syracuse out of the way and since it would be a football-only move, Army becomes a logical partner to include with them as well.

Then there's all this business about Boise State joining the Big East, which is the best idea they've had in months. There's something hysterical about the fact that I live in Seattle and could possibly drive to a Big East school within eight hours, but that's where you're at.

The rumors of Big East making the jump have been debunked by Pete Thamel, but then again, who knows.

What's intriguing about the decision this morning is that the Big East plans on going whole hog to 12 teams. Right now, discounting Syracuse and Pitt, that means they've got six football schools. Are they really planning on bringing in six new schools in one fell swoop?

We know Army, Navy and Air Force would be content with a football-only membership. But would an East Carolina or UCF? Doubtful. As desperate as they are to be a BCS school, they want the full benefit, not the courtesy membership.

And none of this takes into account the fact that there's a very good chance either West Virginia or Louisville are leaving regardless. Depending on what Missouri does, both schools could be moving to fill the space the Tigers don't (WVU to SEC, L'ville to Big 12). If the Big East goes to all this trouble and then loses ANOTHER cornerstone program...at what point does the conference just throw up its hands?

Expect a mad dash from schools like UCF, Houston, ECU, Memphis, SMU to make their big pitch to the Big East for inclusion. Sadly, it could be all for naught if the conference is stripped of its BCS status in a few years anyway.

Finally, we have to mention the comment from Boston College AD yesterday about how "[ESPN] is the one who told us what to do" in terms of expansion. Now, my initial thought is that he meant it abstractly, in that TV contracts dictated how the conference moved. However, it's vague enough that he might have meant it literally.

ESPN and the ACC have both swiftly denied the possibility that the The Worldwide Leader played a part in building up the ACC at the expense of the Big East, and with good reason. I know the NCAA is a shady wasteland of regulations and violations but that would HAVE TO be illegal on some level.

I mean, think about this:

  1. The Big East pulls out of early TV negotiations with ESPN, looking for leverage.
  2. The ACC, who already has a TV deal with ESPN, steals two of the Big East's premiere schools, raising the value of the ACC (especially in basketball) and devaluing the Big East (especially in basketball).
  3. The Big East no longer has any bargaining power in TV negotiations, must basically settle for whatever ESPN wants to give them.

Again, not saying that's what happened, but, if you could prove it...wow.

And don't tell me ESPN isn't capable of single-handidly taking over the conference realignment situation. I have three words for you. The Longhorn Network.