Big East Expansion: Conference Targeting Tulsa, Southern Miss To Replace Boise State, San Diego State?

Beth Hall-US PRESSWIRE

Just another day in As The Big East Turns.

With Boise State and San Diego State deciding to shun the Big East in favor of the Mountain West, the conference is left scrambling to replace the Broncos and Aztecs. The Tulsa World is reporting that Tulsa could be the next Conference USA school to get the call up to the Big East.

While attending Wednesday night's UTEP-Tulsa Conference USA basketball game at the Reynolds Center, TU President Steadman Upham would not address his university's conference situation.

It is becoming increasingly apparent, however, that the Big East may extend a membership invitation.

A source close to the situation indicated that a Big East invitation could be delivered by the end of the month and possibly as early as next week.

One of the more surprising aspects of Tulsa to the Big East is the school presidents rationale for a potential move:

"I also want to be in a conference that we can be proud of academically," Upham said last month. "Losing two of the private schools (SMU and Tulane) in Conference USA is damaging to me, in the way I think about the conference."

Meanwhile, newspapers in Mississippi indicate that Southern Miss will be the other C-USA school added to the Big East to replace Boise State and San Diego State in the Big East. If both Tulsa and Southern Miss jump to the Big East, the conference will need a 14th if Navy makes good on becoming a football-only member in 2015. Say, FIU? If Navy backs out and continues football independence, Southern Miss. would make an even dozen.

Out west, Rice and Texas-El Paso have been rumored targets for the Mountain West while N.M. State and three Sun Belt schools -- Western Kentucky, Arkansas State and Georgia State -- have been mentioned as potential C-USA expansion candidates. Poor Idaho.

College football realignment is still very much a thing among the FBS have-nots and the cannibalization among the Gang of Five shows no signs of slowing. When the dust settles on the latest go-around, best guess on how this all turns out:

Mountain West (12): Air Force Falcons, Boise St. Broncos, Colorado St. Rams, Fresno St. Bulldogs, Hawaii Warriors, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, San Diego St. Aztecs, San Jose St. Spartans, UNLV Rebels, Utah State Aggies, Wyoming Cowboys

Big East (12): Central Florida Knights, Cincinnati Bearcats, Connecticut Huskies, East Carolina Pirates, Houston Cougars, Memphis Tigers, South Florida Bulls, SMU Mustangs, Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (from CUSA), Temple Owls, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane (from CUSA)

Conference USA (12): Charlotte 49ers (from FCS), Florida Atlantic Owls (from Sun Belt), Fla. International Golden Panthers (from Sun Belt), Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (from WAC), Marshall Thundering Herd, Middle Tenn. St. Blue Raiders (from Sun Belt), North Texas Mean Green (from Sun Belt), Old Dominion Monarchs (from FCS), Rice Owls, Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (from WAC), UAB Blazers, UTEP Miners

Sun Belt (8): Arkansas St. Red Wolves, Georgia State Panthers, Louisiana Ragin Cajuns, ULM Warhawks, South Alabama Jaguars, Texas State Bobcats (from WAC), Troy Trojans, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Independent (3): Idaho Vandals, New Mexico St. Aggies, Navy Midshipmen (Big East decommit)

Got all that? Or, in short form: Mountain West > Big East > Conference USA > Sun Belt > Idaho. Poor Idaho.

In other news, the MAC wants you to know that it still exists ... still just played in the BCS ... still sponsors varsity football.

[UPDATE] CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler says there's no more room at the Mountain West inn, despite the conference talking to SMU, Houston and UTEP over the past few months. Tulsa has not talked to the MWC, but Fowler does mention the Golden Hurricane as the leading Big East expansion candidate.

Tulsa has internal momentum inside the Big East offices for a potential 2014-15 add, though a timetable is uncertain at this point.

Therefore, Rice and UTEP get sent back to Conference USA in the above, while Arkansas State, Georgia State and Western Kentucky remain in the Sun Belt. New Mexico State back to football independence.

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