Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Big East expands

(to the West and South)

The Big East introduced Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Central Florida as its new members, effective 2013.

Commissioner John Marinatto says the Big East is the "first truly national college football conference."

The Big East, depleted by the planned departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, is trying to rebuild as a 12-team football conference with a western division.

Boise State President Bob Kustra said his school was "proud to be aboard."

Boise State and San Diego State, which currently play in the Mountain West Conference, will join the Big East only for football. Houston, SMU and UCF will be leaving Conference USA and joining the Big East in all sports.

The Big East has been trying to rebuild as a 12-school football conference since Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced they would be moving to the ACC and West Virginia announced it was leaving for the Big 12. TCU also reneged on a commitment to join the Big East and instead accepted an invite to the Big 12.

The Big East has also been pursuing Navy and Air Force as football-only members, but the military academies are not yet ready to commit to the conference, a source said.

While the Big East is finally about to expand, it's still very much a league in flux.

CBSSports.com reported Boise State will place its other sports teams in the Western Athletic Conference, a league it left after last season, and that San Diego State's other teams will compete in the Big West.

The Big East eventually wants to have two divisions of six teams and be able to hold a conference title game.

The grand plan is to have Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and possibly current member Louisville in the west division. The east division would have current members South Florida, Rutgers, Connecticut and Cincinnati, along with UCF.

The Big East is hoping that Air Force can round on the west and Navy the east. But, for now, that's still just a plan.

The Big East pursued BYU as a western partner for Boise State, but when those talks fell through because of BYU's desire to hold the TV rights to its home games, the league directed its attention to San Diego State.

San Diego is 3,067 miles away from the Big East office in Providence, R.I.

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