Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Facing what could be an additional exodus of teams, the Big East added a couple of more members in time for the 2014 football season with the pickups of Tulane and East Carolina.
Don't be fooled by the spin that is sure to follow from the conference about how these are great additions. They're not - and even commissioner Mike Aresco would acknowledge that if you held his feet to the fire and forced him to be honest. Neither adds anything significant to the conference and this is nothing more than to stay alive in this latest round of conference realignment.
The thing is, though, that the Big East is doing the right thing here by adding more members.
There's nothing the conference can realistically do at this point to avoid losing schools. When Pitt, Syracuse, and West Virginia bolted, the Big East was on panic alert. Now Louisville and UConn are high on the list of the ACC as possible additions (at least one of them is) and even Cincinnati is apparently making a play to get into the conference. Any Big East member would likely leave for the ACC if given the opportunity and with others potentially following Maryland out of the conference, it's plausible that more than one Big East team could be invited. And even if the trio doesn't bulldoze their way into the ACC, they're likely to end up somewhere else in the near future as other conferences expand as well.
As a result, the Big East has little choice but to add who they can. With the way things currently stand, adding East Carolina isn't all that bad of a move. They've won at least eight games in three of the past six seasons (including 2012) and during that span, have beaten the likes of West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boise State, North Carolina, and Houston - not a bad resume. They also fit geographically and have a solid fanbase.
The Tulane addition is a bit harder to understand. Football is the cash cow in college athletics and the Green Wave have been nothing short of abysmal over the past decade, without a winning season since 2002. But the one thing the Big East is surely banking on is that the addition of the New Orleans market will help when it comes to securing a new TV deal. Not sure I buy that, but at least the conference has a plan - to each their own.
I'm less enthusiastic about the Tulane thing. I think the Big East could have had any number of programs that could have brought more to the table, to be honest. But all in all, this is about staying alive. Eventually, things will settle down and when they do, the Big East is likely to look a lot more like Conference USA while the ACC looks a lot more like the old Big East.
But as long as the Big East is still around, I'm sure that's fine with them.