Conference Realignment: Big East Isn't Afraid To Dream Even Bigger And Less Eastern

I've gotta say it's been almost impossible to keep up with all the conference expansion and realignment rumors this week, as they've been all over the place. As soon as I publish this post, I'm sure there will be five more rumors circulating about program XX to conference YY, and other such nonsense. (Note: if someone tells you they know how this whole thing is going to shake out, they are straight up lying).

That said, I won't rehash what's going on with Texas A&M, the SEC, Big 12 and Pac-whatever. Instead, I'll leave that to the SB Nation StoryStream on Texas A&M's exit from the Big 12 and conference expansion-palooza 2k11. Here is the Cliff's Notes version:

The SEC was ready to accept the Aggies as the conference's thirteenth member, but the Baylor went ahead and did this:

Baylor_medium_medium
via cdn3.sbnation.com

While it's fun to poke fun at little Baylor and their Dick Blumenthal / UConn-like move, after the Bears drew a line in the sand, every other school in the Big 12 except for A&M and Oklahoma joined in the chorus of those refusing to waive their right to sue. So we are stuck in a Texas A&M-to-SEC holding pattern until the other non-A&M, non-OU schools waive their right to threaten legal action against the SEC. Basically, we are all waiting on Oklahoma to make up its mind.

That's not stopping the sharks from circling however, with the latest conference to circle being bottom feeder Big East. According to a source, the Big East has been talking to Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and/or Baylor about serving as a cushy landing spot should the Big 12 in fact implode on itself.

"But Baylor, like Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State, isn't sitting idle. Neither is the Big East, which has reached out to the Big 12 schools that could be left behind if the conference were to lose two members (Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) or four (the Oklahoma schools, Texas and Texas Tech), the source said.

The Big East would be willing to expand to 12 football-playing members and 20 for men's and women's basketball in order to stave off a potential raid from the SEC (West Virginia), the ACC (Syracuse and Connecticut) or even the Big Ten (Pitt or Rutgers), according to sources."

Insert your fanciful 12 football program, 20 basketball program realignment scenario here.

Of course, this is hardly Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State or Baylor's first choice. All five programs would much rather make the Big 12 less Texas A&M work by expanding to three schools and getting back to 12. But for Big East fans, there seems to be a strange embrace of Marinatto's strategy to pick up five more Midwestern schools with middling football programs and above average hoops. 

To me, this just reeks of desperation and is further confirmation that BC absolutely made the right choice in moving from the Big East to the ACC after the 2003-04 season. Marinatto probably even thinks that by adding two smallish Texas private schools in TCU and Baylor that the Big East is going to corner the Texas TV market in the process. Good luck with that.

When the Big East started discussing schools like Louisville for inclusion in the conference, the writing was on the wall for the AD and the school's administration. Now the conference is talking about bailing out four or five of the least desirable Big 12 programs left, and creating a football conference that spans from Storrs to Forth Worth and Manhattan, Kansas to Tampa. Have fun attempting to make the "increased travel costs in the ACC" argument against Boston College now, suckas.

Not to mention this transforms the Big East into a 20 (or more) member basketball conference that is less conference and more scheduling consortium. If Syracuse and Georgetown fans are upset that their respective basketball programs are only meeting once this year, what's going to happen when they go an entire year without facing one another in a 20+ member league? 

Of course, this whole Big East expansion strategy could be foiled if the Big 12 manages to stick together, a possibility that gets better and better the longer Baylor and the rest of the Big 12 continues to refuse their right to sue. And Oklahoma State super booster T. Boone Pickens seems to think that the Big 12 can keep it together if the conference moves to equal revenue sharing while allowing Texas to keep its Longhorn Network.

Above all else, remember guys, "don't rush the monkey, and you'll get a better show."

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