Conference Realignment: Big East Will Non-Urgently, Aggressively Expand

Two seemingly incongruous statements coming from the Big East brass following Tuesday night's promise ring ceremony. First up, the commish noted that the league will be aggressive in replacing both Syracuse and Pittsburgh

"The league "will be aggressive" in replacing Pittsburgh and Syracuse and the Big East will continue talks with Navy and Air Force as football-only members, an official in the meeting told CBSSports.com. On Tuesday, CBSSports.com reported that Big East was in the final stages of adding Navy as a football-only member before Pitt and Syracuse abruptly left for the ACC. Air Force also was expected to come on board."

So, hello Navy, Air Force, East Carolina, Central Florida, Houston and a Big East football championship game played annually at TCU's newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium? Not so fast, says Marinatto.

Marinatto would not discuss specific expansion candidates, but said "there's no urgency to expand. We don't need to make a quick decision. We need to make the right decision."

Oh, OK. So you're saying you are not in a rush then? 

Part of the reason that Marinatto is afforded the luxury of slow-playing any possible Big East football expansion is that he's stated that both Syracuse and Pittsburgh must honor the 27-month notice to withdraw from the league. That will likely put the breaks on any more ACC expansion until both Syracuse and Pittsburgh are allowed to switch conferences for the 2014-15 season. As much as I would like to see Syracuse and Pitt join the conference sooner, this move makes total sense for the Big East and will also likely stem the tide of any further ACC expansion. If the conference had let both schools walk, that would have signaled to West Virginia, UConn and Rutgers that they better get out while the getting is still good.

Speaking of West Virginia, UConn and Rutgers, Brett McMurphy's CBSSports.com report also cited an anonymous league source that stated it doesn't sound like the Mountaineers, Huskies and Scarlet Knights are going anywhere anytime soon.

"I think those schools that thought they were going somewhere now realize they have no where to go."

[snip]

"Part of the purpose of the meeting was getting everyone's commitment," Marinatto said. "At some point, you have to take people at their word."

And so, it would seem the conference expansion carousel momentarily stops ... which will probably last all of a week before we are talking about this all again.

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