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As the Expansion Carousel Turns

Well, despite the addition of Utah to the Pac-10 today, the complete destruction to college football's landscape appears to be on hold.  This is bad news for the Mountain West, which had a strong case for a BCS bid with the recent addition of Boise State.  However, by getting Boise, the conference is still better off than it was.  A swap of Boise for Utah is better for the conference, at least in terms of football.  And the conference still has a pretty decent case to get a BCS bid.

But back to the issue at hand for Pitt fans.  What does this mean for the Big East?

Well, by the Big 12 appears to be happy, despite losing two teams and their conference championship game.

The Pac-10 appears to be satisfied with 12 teams and the Big Ten now has 12 teams and can have its desired championship game.  With things slowing down, I think that the Big Ten will play nice and not go to a full blown 16 teams right away.

So with that said, the Big East could be safe for now.  But even if the Big Ten goes to 16, adding four more teams, Pitt would have a good chance to be one of those teams.  The Big Ten already has Nebraska and Texas is staying put.  There are other options left, but the chances of Pitt being included, should the Big Ten expand, likely have gone up.

But assuming things stay the same, the Big East cannot afford to sit back and rest.  I don't think they will and the rumors of Memphis and Central Florida being invited are surfacing.  Do they add anything to the Big East?  Not really.  You could even make the argument that by adding two more basketball teams, a purge of the non-football playing members would need to happen.

But.

The Big East needs to do something.  Now, I believe that that something needs to be focusing on trying to secure a conference network.  Get a network and you've got leverage.  Lots of it.  But in the meantime, the conference needs to focus on adding at least two schools to fight off a potential raid in the future.  The Big East is kind of stuck because many desirable non-BCS schools are out west.  So the likes of Memphis and UCF might be all that's left.  And even though their football programs leave much to be desired, the Big East could pick up two decent markets in Orlando and Memphis.

But going back to a purge of the non-football schools for a minute - there are two glaring reasons I don't think you can do that if you have hopes of creating a network.  First, because basketball would be a huge part of any TV deal.  Cable companies wouldn't want a network with Big East football, but Big East basketball would be more desirable.  Second, by dumping the non-football schools, you'd lose several key markets such as Philadelphia (Nova), D.C. (Georgetown), and Chicago (DePaul).

All in all, Pitt comes out of this on slightly more stable ground - for now.