There has been more than just a little talk of late that Air Force would take its football program out of its current conference home in the Mountain West and move it to the Big East. Based on the words of the service academy’s athletic director, that “little talk” is more than just idle chatter and could come to fruition by the end of this month.
And, in what’s one of the more remarkable twists in this latest round of expansion apocalypse, the same school also snubbed the advances of another BcS conference. Before touching on that, however, let’s get the meat of the subject matter out of the way first.
In a conversation with the Denver Post following the Falcons’ loss to Notre Dame yesterday, AD Hans Mueh openly admitted a very keen interest in moving his football program to the Big East — the academy’s other sports would move to the Missouri Valley Conference in such a scenario — and that the athletic department’s future should be decided by the end of October.
“Our interest is high in the Big East. That’s fair to say,” Mueh told the Post. ”This stuff is moving fast.”
Mueh also said he would like for the other service academies to join Air Force in the Big East.
“In my perfect world, with the Big East on the radar, I would love Air Force, Navy and Army to be in that conference together,” the AD said.
Navy has been connected to the Big East for several weeks, as has Army, although the latter seems to be uncertain about making the move both because of the level of competition — memo to the Black Knights: it’s the Big East, you’ll be just fine — and because they enjoy what independence means for scheduling.
What the loss of Air Force would do to the Mountain West’s future plans remains to be seen. The conference has already lost BYU (independence) and Utah (Pac-12) this year, and will lose TCU (Big East Big 12) next year. Those losses have been or will be offset by the additions of Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii.
When all of the dust settles, and if Air Force leaves as expected, the MWC would be left with nine members. Such a scenario could be the trigger for the long-rumored merger/affiliation with Conference USA.
As noted by the website Mountain West Connection — thanks for the heads up, Jeremy — though, perhaps the biggest news to come out of the Post’s piece had absolutely nothing to do with the Big East. According to Mueh, his school was rebuffed overtures from the Big 12 that could have meant millions of dollars for his athletic department’s coffers.
“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,” Mueh told the paper.
“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.”
What a novel concept, doing what’s best for your student-athletes instead of chasing every last dollar.