Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
The Big East just can't catch a break.
With instability all around, the conference may be dealt another blow as a report broke recently that its basketball-only (or, non-FBS football members, if you prefer) schools could be targeted by the Atlantic 10. The Big East's problem is that the move would make a world of sense for those members.
The basketball-only members have been forced to simply go with the flow when it came to conference expansion. And while starting their own conference may not be feasible, joining the A-10 seems like the perfect way to go. As the ESPN article notes, they'd be in a conference with other members sharing the same philosophy of basketball first. Even more importantly, the conference would be darn good.
The A-10 has already improved with the addition of tournament tested Butler and VCU. And with schools like Xavier, St. Joe's, and Saint Louis, it's not as if the conference didn't have any meat to it already.
Will those schools jump ship? The main factor is going to be money, obviously. The Big East will have a chance to keep the schools if they can convince them that stability is finally here to stay (good luck with that, by the way) and that because of it, the conference will be able to land a sizeable TV deal. But if you're the basketball-only schools, how much can you rely on that actually happening? UConn and Cincinnati seem destined to be swallowed up by ... well, somebody. And if/when that happens, any little bargaining power the conference has shrinks considerably.
On the flipside, one thing that will need to happen is the schools raising the necessary money to get out of the Big East. And if the A-10 wanted a school badly enough, if it were only one, they could help. But it's pretty unfathomable that the conference will be able to chip in for so many new members. It will be interesting to see what happens on that front if they decide to make the move.
The basketball-only schools' best bet may to join an emerging A-10.