Big East to announce addition of five schools
Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Central Florida all set to join conference
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 00:12
According to multiple reports, the Big East is set to add five teams, with an official announcement possibly coming as early as Wednesday.
The Big East will add Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, Southern Methodist University and the University of Central Florida, who will all likely join the league in 2013.
Boise State, currently ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings, and San Diego State will each leave the Mountain West Conference and join the Big East as football-only members. Houston, SMU and UCF will all leave Conference USA and join the Big East in all sports.
The latest round of expansion comes after Pittsburgh and Syracuse defected to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12 earlier this fall. Currently, the Big East requires 27-months notice before a school can leave, so those schools will still be in the conference for one more season once the new arrivals join in 2013, although West Virginia and the Big East are engaged in lawsuits disputing this point.
Also according to reports, the Big East is targeting Navy and Air Force as football-only members, with the hopes of reaching the 12-team threshold that would allow the Big East to hold a conference championship game.
The addition of schools like Boise State and San Diego State are a departure from the conference's historic roots in the east, but with Boise State, the conference would once again have an elite centerpiece program that would instantly raise the credibility of the Big East and shore up the conference's chances of keeping its BCS automatic qualifier bid.
But in order to entice Boise State, the conference needed to build a western branch so that the school wasn't an outlier by itself. San Diego State was reportedly targeted for that reason, although the football team has now reached a bowl game in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1960s. Air Force is likely also being looked at for the same reason.
By adding Houston and SMU, the Big East will expand into two of the country's most lucrative TV markets, Houston and Dallas. Houston is also ranked No. 19 in the BCS standings and fell one win short of reaching the BCS this season. SMU is a program quickly on the rise thanks to head coach June Jones, who has led the Mustangs to their third consecutive bowl game this season after the school went over two decades without reaching one at all.
With Central Florida, the Big East would add the second largest school in the country by enrollment and the Orlando TV market. The school would also give current Big East program South Florida an in-state rival to compete against. The Knights finished at 5-7 this year after going 19-8 over the previous two seasons and finishing in the Top 25 last year. The school has also invested heavily in its athletic infrastructure recently, having opened a new 45,000-seat football stadium and a new basketball arena in 2007.
The ultimate goal for the Big East is to have two six-team divisions, one in the east and one in the west, but that won't occur until the Big East does expand to 12 teams.