Big East could be facing more realignment
BY GARY GRAVES Associated Press
Thursday, November 22, 2012
11/22/12 at 7:02 AM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The struggling Big East Conference came up short again in the latest round of expansion.
The conference lost its fifth member in the past 18 months with Rutgers bolting for the Big Ten on Tuesday. Now the league could lose one of its two most prominent remaining football programs.
Louisville or Connecticut could join the Atlantic Coast Conference - which is seeking a replacement for Big Ten-bound Maryland.
Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Boise State and San Diego State are due to make the Big East a 12-team league next season, with Navy football arriving in 2015. But this week's news was another blow to the league's fight to remain relevant with the other five major BCS conferences - Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 and the Southeastern Conference.
Still, Commissioner Mike Aresco remains confident he can keep the Big East intact and complete his own expansion plans.
He said the league will move quickly to replace Rutgers. The West coast appears to be the target region with BYU, Air Force and UNLV as possible candidates.
"There are schools that want to join the Big East," Aresco said. "And why wouldn't they? We have a model that works."
The model didn't work for TCU, at least from a geographical standpoint. The Horned Frogs were slated to join the Big East this season but opted out and joined the Big 12 instead.
Aresco is undeterred. He said he has been in contact with the other newcomers and they are still on board to join the league. He wouldn't discuss who else might be leaving.
But the likely candidates seem to be Louisville and Connecticut.
The No. 19 Cardinals (9-1, 4-1) and the Huskies (4-6, 1-4) just happen to play Saturday in a pivotal conference showdown. But their commitment to the Big East comes down to how the model of the league that Aresco trumpets - including financial payouts, exposure and competitive balance - work out.
On the field, it's been good and bad for Louisville.
The Cardinals won a share of the Big East last year and are title contenders again this year. Before suffering their first loss at Syracuse on Nov. 10, they were as high as ninth in the BCS championship standings. But they never received any consideration for the national title.
Even if Louisville had remained unbeaten through last weekend's upheaval that saw top-ranked Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon fall, it's doubtful that the Cardinals could've gotten into the discussion.
It's an uphill battle for recognition for Big East teams.
No. 21 Rutgers is the only other ranked team in the conference.
Original Print Headline: Big East still faces uncertain future