No matter what happens with the Big East’s expansion plans, the conference remains on shaky ground. The possibility of another round of member-plucking by the Big 12, combined with the apparent failure by Big East officials to unanimously agree on bylaw changes (i.e., exit fees and fortifying membership), means expansion doesn’t equal security.
The Big East is trying to pick up the pieces and move forward, though. Whether or not it’s too late remains to be seen. Speaking to the Big East Network during West Virginia’s game against Bowling Green on Saturday, WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said the possible additions of Air Force and Navy as football-only members could keep the conference afloat for the immediate future.
Below are Luck’s comments on the state of the Big East:
“Let’s be honest, the reason TCU wants to be in this league so badly is that they think it’s an easier path to the national championship than it is going through Norman, Okla., or Austin, Texas or Stillwater, Okla., and playing some of their regional schools out there. So we’ve got some quality schools that are very interested in getting involved, including both Air Force and Navy. It’s no secret there. I think both of those institutions are academically excellent, very important nationally and also, I think we all can agree, they play some pretty good football.
“In fact, I would trade Air Force or Navy for Syracuse every day of the week in terms of the quality of the football program. No disrespect, but that’s just an observation I think most would agree with who understand football.”
Still, it feels like the best possible expansion scenario for the Big East is to stay on par with what they were before Pitt and Syracuse left for the ACC. Air Force and Navy, if they are indeed added as football-only members, are comparable replacements. Both have good football programs, solid academics (albeit an overrated criteria) and their fans travel well.
On-the-field results have favored Air Force and Navy over Pitt and ‘Cuse recently, but losing the Panthers and the Orange still hurts. Those are prominent brand names in a football league that had few, and it’s hard to get stronger when losing that.