According to CBS Sports' Brett McMurphy, the Memphis Tigers are set to become an all-sports member of the Big East in 2013.
"Memphis has accepted an offer to join the Big East Conference in all sports in 2013, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.
The Tigers will join the Big East with three other Conference USA members - Houston, SMU and UCF - for the 2013-14 school year. The Big East also will add Boise State and San Diego State as football-only members in 2013 and Navy in 2015."
This swells the number of former Conference USA members to join the ranks of the Big East to nine, as the Tigers are set to join Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, DePaul, Marquette, Houston, SMU and UCF. Basically, if you are still a Conference USA member and have not gotten a Big East invite at this point, you are doing something wrong.
For basketball, this is a solid move. For football ... meh.
When Memphis joins the Big East in 2013, the Tigers will become the 28th different school to have called the Big East home at one point in the conference's history (inclusive of Loyola Maryland, who is an associate member for women's lacrosse.
This got me thinking: if you could construct the optimal Big East Conference from scratch, using any of the 28 members of the conference that have once called the Big East home, who ya got? (The complete list of programs can be found here.)
The first thing you need to do is determine what the conference's priorities are. If you are going to be a basketball-first conference, then ditch the geographically absurd Boise State, and you can probably also live without Rutgers, DePaul (obviously), Houston, SMU and South Florida.
Or maybe you want to be a football-first conference. In that case, the basketball-only schools quickly get the boot -- Georgetown, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova -- and you are left to choose from the original Big East football members, former C-USA programs like Louisville, Cincinnati and USF, the Mountain West and Navy.
For me, if we are doing this thing over, I only want all-sports programs who provide some value in football and basketball but are solid football programs. Having an all-sports conference where programs share revenue equally is much more tenable than the existing Big East basketball-football hybrid.
Here is my ultimate Big East Conference. Leave your own thoughts in the comments section.
Big East Gavitt Division
Boston College Eagles
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
West Virginia Mountaineers
Big East Tranghese Division
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
South Florida Bulls
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Big East Gavitt Division consists of BC, Navy, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia, while the Tranghese Division includes Cincinnati, Miami, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida and Virginia Tech.
Football. The conference would be anchored by Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. The conference probably wouldn't be as strong as the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, but could probably rival the ACC and the Pac-12. I passed on Boise State and San Diego State (geographically absurd), as well as the new batch of Conference USA teams like Houston, SMU and UCF, though Houston and UCF have sleeping giant potential.
I did, however, include Navy as the Middies have a long shared history with Notre Dame (85 games), Pittsburgh (38), BC (29) and Syracuse (27). I fully understand that Navy would be dead weight in hoops.
Basketball. The powers in hoops would include Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and West Virginia in the Gavitt Division and Cincinnati and Louisville in the Tranghese Division. Top to bottom this conference probably isn't as strong as the current Big East (including Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova, among others), but would likely rank as one of the top conferences year in and year out.
Scheduling. In football, the conference would play a nine-game conference schedule with five games within your division and four from the other division on a rotational basis. Since most of the major rivalries you want to preserve -- BC-Syracuse, Syracuse-Pitt, BC-Notre Dame, Pitt-West Virginia -- remain within the division, the permanent cross-over rival setup can be abandoned for one that cycles through teams from the other with greater frequency.
This is clearly a pipe dream as Notre Dame would never agree to this schedule format, but the setup does give the Irish annual games with Pittsburgh, BC and Navy, as well as Syracuse (for exposure in NYC).
In basketball, no divisions. Eighteen game schedule. One permanent scheduling partner that guarantees a home-and-home annually. Play everyone else at least once, three rotating home partners and three rotating road partners.
Pairings are: BC-Syracuse, Notre Dame-Navy (lucky Irish), Pitt-West Virginia, Cincinnati-Louisville, Miami-South Florida and Virginia Tech-Rutgers (lucky Hokies)
Championships. Football championship at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, basketball at MSG. Basketball tournament format mirrors today's ACC Basketball Tournament with the top 4 teams receiving first-round byes.
Now if only we had done this from the start ...