The Big East is once again the center of a media storm regarding expansion in collegiate football. A day after West Virginia announced they had filed a lawsuit against the conference to fight the 27 month holding period designed to keep the schools from competing outside the Big East for two years, Big East officials announced they had sent out six invitations to join the conference. Based on the expectations it appears three will be football only invitations and three will be all inclusive invitations for all sports. As usual it doesn't appear that anyone listened to Rick Pitino, he suggested adding Temple and Memphis but both are left off of everyone's expected lists.
Boise State is the prize right now in conference expansion, their number five ranking right now in the BCS is the only thing that allows the Mountain West to be ranked above the Big East in terms of quality. If in fact the Big East loses the Mountaineers next year to the Big 12, which is entirely up to who you ask, but they gain Houston, SMU, and Boise State in football the Big East gains two teams ranked above West Virginia right now and SMU is just outside the top 25. It is hard to think that expansion allows the conference to actually gain prestige but considering that the best team in the Big East at the moment is 23rd in the BCS, gaining 5 and 14 seems like a significant improvement.
In terms of the Mountaineers, the basis of the argument seems absurd but it may just be an effort on the part of West Virginia to force the Big East to settle and allow them out of the 27 month grace period. It appears that WVU is contending that because the conference didn't enforce the grace period on TCU, who left the Big East for the Big 12 before ever playing a game, that the standard has been set to allow anyone to exit before that 27 months. Now as mentioned in past posts as well as on other sites, the Big East needs to hold on to the three departing members for the time because the next two years will count towards the review of the automatic bid for the BCS that the Big East will have after the 2013-2014 season. If they can hold on to Pitt, Syracuse, and WVU for that time nothing will have changed from a conference that already has that automatic qualification and all indications are that if those same eight teams are the one reviewed that the Big East will retain that status. Something that is the only incentive for teams far west to join in, without AQ status Boise State is just as well off staying in the Mountain West MAC mega monstrosity conference that is in the making.
The saddest part of all this expansion and drama is that it is in the middle of one of the most intriguing and competitive conference races in the country in football, albeit a competition for mediocrity, as well as overshadowing the start of what could possibly be the best season of collegiate basketball in recent memory. The UConn men play their first exhibition tomorrow and it is being overshadowed by conference realignment and controversy, it's a shame considering just how much the Big East has to offer the sports world right now that the only thing being discussed on a national level is what's going to happen in the long run with realignment.