Otto Kitsinger III
This isn't piling on, it's really not. But when word broke this week from ESPN that two of the Big East's new teams could jump ship before they even become members, a la TCU, how could one not take notice? This of course, comes of the heels of word that Rutgers is likely Big Ten bound.
The conference got some good news last week when it was announced that they along with other conferences would get a piece of the action in college football's new major bowl lineup. The Big East wasn't guaranteed a slot as they are under the current BCS format, but it was as good as could be expected. And because the Big East was expected to have the highest-rated team of all of the qualifying conferences, it was as close to having an automatic bid as they could get.
But now that the Mountain West and others are on similar footing with the Big East, western schools Boise State and San Diego State probably got to thinking that maybe leaving their west coast roots for the travel nightmares and instability of the Big East wasn't really the way to go, after all. That's particularly true now in the wake of an expected Rutgers move and now that the conference no longer holds the lucrative guaranteed deal.
The bottom line is that as bad as the previous departures were, this is equally as tragic. The addition of the trio actually brought some quality programs to the conference and if all three bolt, the floodgates will open. Big East schools will certainly jump ship if asked, but if there's an exodus of Boise and San Diego State look for current members to be actively pursuing an exit maybe as hard as they ever have.
The biggest problem, however, for remaining schools is that pickings are slim. Programs like South Florida and Temple are now in dire situations without any other real options appearing on the horizon. The ACC may add a Big East university with the loss of Maryland (and the ESPN article actually says it's 'expected' another Big East school will head to the ACC), but with the Big Ten having just added Rutgers, there are even fewer potential homes for any defectors.
Pitt will continue to get flak from remaining conference members, but that's fine with me. The university got out in the nick of time and now looks even wiser for having done so. I'd always argue that Pitt would have been fine and would have found a home, but it's good that nothing has been left to chance.