As most know, the Big East (furthermore notated as Big “East”) has been courting a full Western annex to appease the whims of the Boise State Broncos (the linchpin in the conference keeping its AQ status). This Frankenstein-like setup would include Boise, Air Force, SMU, Houston and a fifth team, plus UCF in the west to complement the traditional eastern division. That fifth team was supposed to be currently-independent BYU, who everyone thought would jump at the chance to be an automatic qualifier. Yeah, about that.
So now what? Well, there’s the logical next step of inviting Temple. Though the Owls were tossed out of the Big “East” back in 2004, there’s rumblings all around for them to return. Temple sure wants it, as does Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. There’s also the simple option of ECU, who applied for football-only membership back in September. And of course, Villanova, who’s already a league member in every other sport, is still pretty interested in making the jump. But why would the conference be interested in any of these logical choices?
No, instead, the Big “East” is probably gunning for the least logical option this side of Hawaii: San Diego State.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Aztecs are a fine program in both football and basketball (invite for that sport unlikely, but humor me) — a real rising power the likes of which would’ve been an enterprising addition under better circumstances, honestly. But logistically, think about this one for a second: schools traveling from Florida to Idaho, Cincinnati to San Diego, New Jersey to Colorado. If invited for basketball, you’d potentially have to watch Providence head to Southern California every other year (a 3,039-mile trip according to Google Maps). Regardless though, the travel costs associated with a conference of this size and breadth would be downright staggering, and unfair to anyone involved with the program, from fans to athletes.
We’re still in wait-and-see mode at the moment, but if this happens, the Big “East” may as well be a conglomerate of independents who happen to schedule each other for convenience purposes. If the league decides to go to 16 teams in football, I’ve heard Warsaw Tech is available.