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Big East Expansion: If Not Villanova, Then Who?

Here's Bill Self. Now imagine him and Kansas playing in front of the Zoo. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Here's Bill Self. Now imagine him and Kansas playing in front of the Zoo. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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I swear, this'll be the LAST time I talk about expansion until I read the phrase "The Big East has formally invited ______ to join the Big East Conference." But to recap, media days were this week and, as anticipated, we learned absolutely nothing about Big East expansion, other than we may, you know, expand.

I wrote a piece earlier this week on why Villanova should not be invited and asked you all what you thought. The majority of you think we can do better as a conference than Villanova, although it was close. It was 60-40 against Nova joining at all and about 1/3 of everyone who voted yes thinks that Nova should be part of a package deal, something that AD Steve Pederson also agrees with. Pederson is also high on getting another program in Florida.

Pederson told Gazette writer Paul Zeise that the Big East's "dream scenario" is to get TCU, BC, Maryland (Randy Edsall's dream job), and one other school (presumably Nova/UCF/Navy) to get to 12 and have a conference championship game either at campus sites or in New York, I'm guessing New Meadowlands Stadium. There are also rumors that the Big East is waiting for the Big 12 to continue its slow and painful death so it can invite Missouri, Kansas, and Kansas State, along with TCU.

As for supposed candidates, Pederson shot down any thought that schools like East Carolina, Southern Miss, Army, and possibly Villanova would be invited to join the conference. Of the main rumored targets, only UCF and Navy are ones that have any serious backing.

So what does this all mean? Well, for one, the Big East is actually trying to get decent schools. This is where the benefit of going last in media deals comes into play. If the Big East were to go out into the open market and get big money from Comcast, NBC, or ESPN, they could potentially sway Maryland and BC (although fans of both schools aren't particularly thrilled, especially BC).

My question to you is, if not Villanova, then who? Expansion is happening, whether you want it or not. Does the Big East go to 10 or 12? Let's go over the candidates:

Villanova: Already a member of the Big East in all other sports, but an FCS football member. Plus don't even get me started on the stadium issue, which has been somewhat ignored over the past few weeks.

UCF: Solid FBS program, with an up and coming basketball program. Attendance issues are a concern (Gator-Knights?), plus USF has a problem with them being in the Big East and there's already four AQ programs in the state.

Navy: Another solid FBS program, though hoops is lacking and with the way Navy has to recruit, you have to think it'll be hard for them to compete in the Big East (I assume they could beat Depaul though). Would they even want to give up football independence though?

Maryland: Good football and basketball programs and within the Big East's footprint. The only issue is whether they would be willing to jump ship from the ACC, which they're a founding member of, to the Big East. This is all assuming of course that the Big East lands a big TV deal.

BC: Former Big East member, though they seem happy in the ACC. Good football program, basketball is average at best with the occasional good year. Great market within the conference's footprint. Same issues as Maryland though.

Mizzou/KU/K-State: I'm lumping the Big 12 threesome together because the Big East isn't getting one without the other two and wouldn't have the chance to get any unless the Big Texas 12 Conference collapses (still a possibility). Mizzou and K-State have decent football programs, while they all are pretty good on the court.

Personally, I would like to see the Big 12 threesome as the newest members of the Big East. Honestly, if I had to pick, I'd take Texas being Texas and driving away the other Big 12 schools over the chances of BC coming back to the Big East. Plus, Kansas at the Pete. Awesome.