If the Big Ten pulls in Connecticut, Rutgers and Pittsburgh for the Big East, the conference will be down to five teams and on life support to survive. As Dennis Dodd points out, Cincinnati, Syracuse, West Virginia and Louisville would do their best to look elsewhere and most likely join the ACC.
That means the Big East basically has two options.
No. 1: Fold. Allow the lone member South Florida to go somewhere else, mostly likely to Conference USA.
No. 2: Scrape together the best teams from Conference USA and the Sun Belt to keep the Big East together.
In scenario No. 1, the Big East would realize that no matter what teams it tries to pull over, it just will never be a major player in the college football/BCS world. So just close up shop and let South Florida to go wherever it could.
With C-USA losing SMU, Houston, Tulsa, UTEP and Tulane, that means it will need to replenish to keep 12 teams and its conference title game. Currently it uses two division -- East and West -- but it's time to change to North and South.
Army and Navy might end up staying as Independents, but why? Join a conference. Now that Notre Dame is gone it's time to do away with the Independents.
|New Conference USA|
|East Carolina||Florida International|
|New teams in bold|
Things are a little bit more tricky in the South. Who would C-USA want and why?
Well, South Florida would be an automatic, so it really only needs two teams. Forget adding anybody from the MAC and WAC, so the only choices left are from the Sun Belt.
Florida International in Miami would be high on the list, if for nothing else, because of its location. The school is located in a Top 20 television market, has more than 40,000 students, and the school is doing its best to improve the football program (it just upgraded the stadium).
By taking FIU, that makes Florida Atlantic 60 miles north in Palm Beach County a perfect fit for a travel partner in other sports. The Owls also are building a new stadium.
I'm not sure the other schools would be attractive enough for C-USA to invite. Even though Troy has had the most success football wise, it has a major downside of being in a city of less than 15,000 people.
Louisiana-Lafayette does offer the conference a chance to get back int the state of Louisiana and the city is one of the largest of all the Sun Belt schools, but FAU and FIU are more attractive on a broader scale.
Now let's talk about scenario No. 2:
The Big East decides it can stay together by pulling some of the larger teams from Conference USA and Sun Belt. So here is what an eight-team conference would look like.
|New Big East||New C-USA/Sun Belt|
|Florida International||Middle Tennessee|
|Georgia State (future)|
Again, not much to work with, but the conference does get Memphis, UCF, East Carolina, the two Florida schools (FAU and FIU) and two military academies (Army and Navy). Is it strong enough to pull an automatic BCS bid? Doubtful.
Plus this creates another problem. Does the Big East invite all these schools to play basketball? No offense, but adding Florida International and its 5,000-seat gym, to play basketball and hosting games against Georgetown isn't very inticing. This would have to be a football-move only.
As for Conference USA and the Sun Belt, they would have no choice but to join forces. Conference USA would be left with only four schools, while the Sun Belt has seven. It would need one more school to get back to 12 and preserve a conference title game.
It's far-fetched and definitely something down the road, but Georgia State starts football in FCS (I-AA) this season and would be a perfect fit as the 12th school.
Located in downtown Atlanta with more than 30,000 students, the Panthers would be a nice addition to the C-USA/Sun Belt Conference.