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Report: Tulsa to jump from Conference USA to ‘Big East’

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Long rumored to be the next Conference USA member to move to the Conference Formerly Known as the Big East, Tulsa is on the verge of doing just that.

Following up on speculation that began gaining momentum in January, ESPN.com reports that Tulsa will indeed join the soon-to-be-renamed Big East.  An official thumbs-up vote from that conference is said to be “imminent,” with an announcement of Tulsa’s addition for 2014 coming by next week.

This report comes over two months after Tulsa World wrote that “[t]he university’s switch from Conference USA membership to Big East Conference membership seems to have graduated from a possibility to a likelihood.”  It was reported in late January that the lone holdup for Tulsa’s move was the finalization of a new television contract for “the Big East”; that hurdle was cleared last week.

Barring an unexpected development, Tulsa would give “the Big East” 11 members for the 2014 season – Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF — with that number going to 12 with Navy’s arrival in 2015.  Of those, nine would be former members of Conference USA, the lone exceptions being Navy, Temple and UConn.

It also means that Conference USA could be in the market for another member.  Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF are all leaving that league this year, to be joined by East Carolina and Tulane in 2014.  That would leave Conference USA with an uneven 13 members (I think): former WAC schools Louisiana Tech and UT-San Antonio; former Sun Belt schools FAU, FIU, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas; Old Dominion and UNC-Charlotte, moving up from the FCS level; and current members Marshall, Rice, Southern Miss, UAB and UTEP.

So, just where would Conference USA look to get back to an even number of members?  The Sun Belt Conference, probably.  Of course, that conference is expected to announce the additions of four new members over the next couple of days, additions that would get it to 12 members and allow it to hold a league championship game.

Yep, conference expansion is a tremendous ongoing development for the game of college football.

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6 Responses to “Report: Tulsa to jump from Conference USA to ‘Big East’”
  1. centexhorn says: Mar 26, 2013 4:48 PM

    Good.

    I’m slowly getting more confident about this conference as a football league.

  2. thefiesty1 says: Mar 26, 2013 4:55 PM

    Tulsa just wants to play SMU and Houston every year. But going to the Big Least?? Not worth a step down.

  3. thegamecocker says: Mar 26, 2013 5:00 PM

    Ya know what’s a shame…Rice, a GREAT university academically and a former member of the old Southwestern Conference, is now out in the cold! That is pure BS! They could be every bit as good as Baylor. At a minimum, they should be a member of the football conference formerly known as the Big East. Academically Rice is better than most of the schools in that conference and should really be a member of the Big 12 if not the Big East. They have a rich heritage of football lore.

  4. Brian Basher says: Mar 26, 2013 6:52 PM

    I don’t see one team in this conference that will EVER even remotely be seen as a contender for a national championship.

    This whole conference would be better off dropping down to FCS at least the teams would have a chance to make the playoffs then.

  5. dmcgrann says: Mar 26, 2013 10:14 PM

    thegamecocker, I tend to agree with you about Rice, but it’s not the first good university that’s gotten screwed one way or another via conference, and let us not forget, division realignment.

    I read something interesting today from some academic marketing type at Georgia State who said that the idea of the size of media markets and how many eyeballs they bring to a TV package means nothing at the Sun Belt level. Thought it was funny, because I had always heard the opposite.

    I still say that ODU will push like hell to get C-USA to invite JMU. On the face of things, JMU’s ready to jump, and is perhaps more ready than some other schools that have already made the jump. I would hope that they’re carefully considering the money implications. All of these schools going from FCS to FBS are going to lose money.

    Liberty is a wild card, but they’re just not going to be palatable to some folks who have a say in the invitations. They have the desire, they have facilities including an easily expandable stadium, and they apparently have LOTS of money (or at least a willingness to assume LOTS of debt). It’s hard to tell how much money they really have because of the way that they report, but they don’t teach 70,000 online students (or whatever the number is) for free, and they don’t spend the money that a “traditional” university would spend to teach those students. They are the single largest recipient of Federal education money in Virginia.

    But, Liberty has some baggage. I like the folks I know at and from Liberty, but the presidents on the other universities in a conference, and even (gasp!) the faculty at those schools will have some input. And Liberty flies in the face of academic convention in a couple of significant ways.

  6. timboyee says: Apr 2, 2014 2:42 PM

    The American Athletic Conference invited East Carolina, Tulsa, and Tulane as full American members (2014 and Navy as football 0nly members (2015). Prompting Conference USA to add Western Kentucky to get to 14 full members. I think C-USA will try to get back to 16 Members. James Madison for sure and possibly Liberty or UMass (as they are leaving the MAC for football in 2015) The American has recently stated they are not seeking further expansion in the near future. Tulane is an excellent academic school, but have weak athletics. Rice, while a more competitive athletic school than Tulane likely wasn’t added due to The American already having two Texas schools, Southern Methodist and Houston. UMass also has an extremely weak FBS football program, but excellent basketball. If the American ever adds more schools it will likely be a C-USA team with good football & basketball. (Southern Miss, Rice, Louisiana Tech, MTSU, UAB or Marshall). I think it is also likely that the new Big East will eventually add Saint Louis and Dayton, but not next season, leaving both the Big East and Atlantic 10 with 12 teams.

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