Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Rutgers leaves; Tulane joins; the rumor mill centers around Louisville and Connecticut.
In response to the loss of Rutgers to the Big Ten, the Big East is making moves. Tulane is expected to announce that they will joiun the Big East in all sports, possibly starting in 2013-2014 - the same season Memphis, Southern Methodist, Central Florida, and Houston are scheduled to join in all sports. The Tulane Green Wave, located in New Orleans, are currently members of Conference USA.Cincinnati, South Florida, and Louisville were also members of Conference USA, as were Marquette and DePaul.
East Carolina - the program that has been clamoring for a Big East invitation for years - will finally get their invite, but in football-only, starting in 2014.
Tulane is 2-10 in football this year and hasn't had a winning season since 2002, winning 4 or fewer games since the 2006 season. 8-4 East Carolina in football has been a better program, looking for national respect. They have joined a conference that, as currently constituted, stretches from San Diego State to Connecticut in football, and down to Tampa, Florida as well.
Meanwhile, there are rumors that the Atlantic Coast Conference is targeting UConn, Louisville... and future Big East member Navy.
David Glenn's sources say ACC discussing expansion this week, 3 potential targets: Louisville, UConn and Navy— ACC Sports (@ACCSports) November 27, 2012
Navy is scheduled to join the Big East in 2015. Louisville and Connecticut have been sending come hither eyes to the Atlantic Coast Conference; the ACC could benefit from adding both, but Connecticut is no power. And the Navy addition seems to have little benefit.
No word on whether Conference USA will target teams without an affiliation in the near future, like Idaho.
At first blush, the addition of those two programs seems to only benefit fans who get to go to New Orleans for a game (Tulane, by the way, is located in a gorgeous area). But the expansion south allows the Big East to bring in a pair of programs with a desire to compete on the highest level and a pair of new media markets - New Orleans, and possibly Raleigh/ Durham. The national reach has been a major point for current commissioner Mike Aresco in the negotiations with various media outlets.
The new league looks a lot like Conference USA before the Big East gnawed off its best bits in 2005; we'll be tracking any hints that the basketball schools might look for the conference exits. Of course, it's highly unlikely the Big East basketball schools would be able to negotiate a better media deal on their own than they would with the floatsam of Conference USA and a few distant programs added in.
Which is to say, it feels funny, but let it sink in a bit, maybe it'll become the new normal.