The “Catholic 7”, which consists of the seven non-football members of the conference, are reportedly going through with what has been rumored for some time; creating their own conference. The departing schools will be joined by the Xavier Musketeers and the Butler Bulldogs. They will also apparently be keeping the Big East name.
This schism leaves the three current and multiple future football schools out in the cold. The South Florida Bulls, Cincinnati Bearcats, and Connecticut Huskies have not announced any plans as to what conference they will align with in any sport beyond the 2013 season.
The name change will take place prior to the 2013 college football season, but despite losing their title the football schools of the former-Big East will retain their automatic qualifier status. However, it isn’t 2013 that everybody is thinking about. Rather, all eyes are on 2014 when the new FBS playoff system goes into effect. What will the football teams that called the ex-Big East their home do then?
They could obviously band together and form a new conference, but the teams involved aren’t very impressive as a collective. It is far more likely that we will see the group splinter and be absorbed by other conferences.
I think the ACC will be gunning for both UConn and USF. The Big Ten will also set its sights on Connecticut, but will be looking at Cinci as well. The only conference I could see all three joining as a collective is the Big 12, which is the home of the West Virginia Mountaineers who are former Big East members.
The Big 12 has expressed interest in gaining influence in the recruiting pipeline state of Florida by developing relationships with the bowls that are played there. It would be even sweeter for them if they could snag USF, even if the Bulls aren’t a very consistent football school.
Cincinnati is now coached by Tommy Tuberville, who jetted from Lubbock at the drop of a hat and left the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the dust. That has rivalry written all over it.
UConn has a hit-and-miss football team, but could add major cred to Big 12 basketball as well as playing spoiler and dark horse on the gridiron.
If the Big 12 were to add all three they would have 13 schools and be sitting in a much less vulnerable position in the pecking order of power conferences. A second leap forward could easily be achieved if they were to add, oh I don’t know, the BYU Cougars, Boise State Broncos, and perhaps the Houston Cougars or SMU Mustangs. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, the Big 12 has 16 teams.
While the odds of the Big 12 snagging all of those schools, much less the three from the dying Big East, are astronomical, it could happen. Only time will tell how it will all end up shaking out, but I would be game for a Big 12 line-up that looks like that.
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