With Big East spring meetings winding down, the glut of information, quotes, rumors and gossip about expansion, should start to die down. The only problem is, because Marinatto continues to speak in the kind of vagueness that inspire eye-rolls every time he opens his mouth, we're left with only those rumors and gossip to rummage through.
Let's start with the most notable piece of information thrown out there. Brett McMurphy (who has been killing it since jumping over to CBSSports.com) says "college industry sources told CBSSports.com the league is also considering the possibility of pursuing Army and Navy as football members to get to 12 teams." If this was Joe Schmo in Memphis saying this, I'd write it off as the usual rumor nonsense. But I think Brett's earned enough credit with Big East fans to make this worth noting.
We've talked about Army & Navy as Big East candidates extensively in the past. But, let's run through it one more time.
On paper, it's the logical solution. You invite Villanova to get the conference to 10 football schools. You then invite Army & Navy as football-only schools, thereby getting you to 12, locking yourself in for a Championship Game and making Rutgers happy, which is the goal of everyone, obviously. Both programs have massive tradition, they're located in the Northeast and Navy gives you access to Baltimore.
But, for the same reasons its the obvious answer on paper, it's also the worst-possible solution to the 12-team equation. It's too easy. It's the Staples Easy Button Solution of Big East Expansion.
First of all, I would be shocked if this wasn't leaked by a basketball-only Big East school. How great would it be for them? The addition of Villanova, Navy and Army means no more basketball schools to work into the already gaudy conference. 17 might not be an even number, but it would at least keep it there. We can also assume that, as part-time conference members, Army & Navy won't dip into the TV money the same way a UCF or Houston would.
But really, the reason this would make no sense is much more obvious than that. I say that will full respect for the men and women of both schools and programs, but adding Army & Navy is the kind of backwards-thinking that got the Big East into this mess in the first place.
Yes, both program has major history and tradition that just about no one else in the conference can match. But all of that stuff comes from heydays that have been over for a long time. A very long time. In fact, we can be pretty sure that the greatest seasons in the history of both schools have happened and they will never happen again. And if they do, it will be a fluke, one-time thing.
If this were 2001, there would have been some merit to adding Army & Navy. The conference was doing fine. Miami was a powerhouse. Virginia Tech had emerged as a national contender. West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse were holding down the fort. Adding these two schools could have increased our numbers and it wouldn't have mattered that they weren't as relevant as they used to be. They would have been building blocks.
In 2011, we don't have that luxury. Falling back on tradition is what got us into this mess. Letting things like, "we were a basketball conference first" lead our decision-making is the reason we're lagging behind every other BCS conference. By adding two schools that have already played their best football, we're once again looking backwards when we should be looking forward.
That's what makes the TCU move so great. The Frogs might not be a Top 5 team every year, but the chances of them remaining relevant over the next 5-10-20 years is high. It's the same reason that UCF or Houston or BYU or East Carolina keep popping up. They have futures and growth potential, and the chance that some of their best years as football programs (and basketball programs) ahead of them.
I appreciate Army and Navy and what they stand for, but they belong in Conference USA or a similar conference. They're not BCS conference material.
And besides, I can guarantee you DOC Gross will do everything in his power to keep Army out of the Big East. There is absolutely no way he's going to let there be another BCS school in the state of New York.
ANYWAY, a couple other nuggets to emerge from the meetings:
Jim Calhoun better hope UCF doesn't get into the Big East, or at least that he's gone by the time they do, cause he just fired the first shot.
You know, as much as they seem to have faded from the pack, it's always good to remain acquainted with what East Carolina has to offer.
Then, there's this piece out of Boston.com that wants to know exactly what the Big East is heading towards. It also mentions that the Big East schools turned down an offer "in the neighborhood of $11 million each" from ESPN and will now wait until the contract is close to expiring to renegotiate.