Big East Expansion: Four Different Time Zones Edition

Will Boise State's Lauded Arrival Save the Big East's AQ Status?

As most have probably heard by now, the Big East is suddenly not so “east” anymore. With the additions of Boise State, SMU, Houston, UCF and San Diego State, the conference is now one that stretches all the way from Florida to California, or the just as ridiculous Rhode Island to Idaho if you’d prefer that visual. Further complicating matters is the fact that it still needs two more schools to reach its goal of having 12 football-playing members. Who are the big contenders? To me, you first look at the two obvious answers:

Navy — end the years-long flirtation and help the Midshipmen get out of some of their scheduling conflicts, so they can join the league as soon as possible.

Air Force — you’re not getting one of these military academies without the other. And now that the Falcons have several travel partners out west, it’s a lot more palatable of a move for them.

If you’re Louisville Cardinals basketball coach Rick Pitino, however, you have something else in mind:

“…my hope is that they’ll go out there and get a Temple or a Memphis to keep basketball strong.”

Something tells me that Air Force and Navy will be easy gets, and the Big East probably stops there. They’ve also stated that Temple is their first alternate should there be a snag in their plans — something I support, so long as Memphis isn’t part of the deal (terrible facilities, poor academics). Then again, Syracuse won’t be the ones that have to travel all over the country just to play in-conference, so I’m not as broken up as I once would’ve been.

The bigger question, once the league fills out at 12 schools for football and who knows how many for basketball, is are they better off? For its traditional strength — basketball — there’s no way the schools above replace SU and Pittsburgh (and even West Virginia, to a point). For football? I still think it might be more of an even swap (or even a downgrade) than anyone within the conference is letting on. The Mountaineers are no Boise, but they are regularly in the BCS standings and usually win their BCS bowls as well. Pitt, Syracuse and oft-forgotten defector TCU have also been to BCS games with varying degrees of success. The other adds besides the Broncos? Zero BCS berths, few appearances in the standings and outside of the former Southwest Conference teams, little history to speak of.

Yes, as they’ve done before, the Big East will surely write its own epilogue here. But for those already penning a success story on the gridiron, maybe you should hold off for a few before you start throwing a parade for the league’s bumbling leader up in Providence, John Marinatto.

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