Realignment keeps moving, and the Big East is trying hard to remain in the mix for the big-money bowls. Per Big East Coast Bias, the Big East released this statement:
...our Presidents and Chancellors authorized the BIG EAST Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools.
Which is to say that with six football playing members remaining, the Big East is looking to add six more schools... and that's not even considering if the Big XII offers invitations to Louisville, Cincinnati, and/or West Virginia. More realignment notes, below the fold.
While some say that the Big East's problem is that the basketball-only schools have undue influence over the revenue-driving football programs, there is obviously a strong push to save the league in its current model. Whether the Big East has moved FAST enough is more up for debate.
Each of these official actions spell out the way the Big East is going to try and survive. Unfortunately (perhaps), the plan is to keep the tenuous model of all-sports teams, partial sports teams, and deep-seeded acrimony. But with so many schools with nowhere to go, this may be the best option - Conference S.O.L., as Bearcats Blog brilliantly dubbed it.
+ As for schools interested in the Big East, the Air Force Academy has strong interest in joining the Big East for football only, while joining the Missouri Valley Conference for other sports. Air Force's Athletic Director doesn't skirt the truth in why he would turn down a Big 12 invitation:
"We were approached by the Big 12, and I told them we're not a good fit for that conference. In the Big 12, geography makes sense, the economics make sense, but recruiting makes no sense for us. I can't recruit against Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State," [Hans] Mueh said.
"That's why I turned down the Big 12. I can't do that to my kids, because they'll get beat up. I'd love the extra $12 million or whatever it would be per year from the TV money. And I know how I'd spend the money. I'd build a new soccer stadium, and I'd build a new baseball facility, all in one year. But I can't do that."
It's geographically silly, but the money is good and the Air Force - with the military and academic entry requirements - cannot get the top tier of athletes across the roster. (Which is also to say that Big East talent is inferior to the top leagues in college football).
+ Below the "Bowl Championship Series" level of football, the Colonial Athletic Association has reached out to Charlotte, Richmond, George Washington, and Boston University about joining the CAA. All but Boston play in the Atlantic-10. Apparently, the A-10 inquired about adding George Mason and Virginia Commonwealth.
It's not sure what this would change, or of those leagues can renegotiate television contracts anytime soon. But for the basketball schools, these are moves worth watching. If the Big East splits in twain, St. John's and the other basketball-only programs will need to join with high-profile hoops teams (Xavier/ Dayton/ Richmond/ St. Louis/ Butler/ &c.). If those schools have larger exit fees or other carrots bonding the programs closer to each other, the Big East remnants might just have to join those schools on their terms - a near worst-case scenario.
+ Of interest: Boston College's AD openly indicates that BC doesn't want U Conn in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that ESPN may be helping to guide the realignment action.
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