Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
Today we learned that Tulane University is the next to pack its bags for the Big East Conference, with East Carolina just behind them. What's next in conference expansion?
The Big East has struck again. With the most recent departure of Rutgers from the league, and the likely departure of Connecticut or Louisville, officials apparently felt it necessary to go out and snag a couple more from Conference USA. This time around, its Tulane and ECU.
The good news is that C-USA officials planned for this moment to come, expanding the conference to 14 schools beginning in the 2013-14 athletic seasons. Losing two schools puts the league right back to 12 members in two reasonable east/west divisions.
Now, because Old Dominion and Charlotte are not expected to begin competing at the FBS level in football until 2015, the league would be left with only 10 members for a year, and thus Conference USA would not host a conference championship in football for that season.
So what does this mean for Conference USA? Of course, there's always the possibility of immediate expansion. But, considering the league is still well balanced, its probably not likely. As member El Javi stated in "The Dig" thread; Middle Tennessee, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, or Western Kentucky could be expansion candidates.
The bigger question though in this whole conference expansion mess is; when will it all end? Its no secret that the Big East has been the most unstable of the six "power conferences", and is no longer even considered one of the power leagues by the BCS. Wasn't that what their fight was all about in the first place?
After all of the defections, the Big East has been put on the same level as the Mountain West, Conference USA, and the MAC. With the new BCS system being put into place in 2014, all of those leagues will have the same access to BCS bowls.
Because of that, sources have stated that Boise State, San Diego State, and even BYU have all been in talks with the Mountain West. As of now they claim they are staying the current course, but should they decide to return to their former home, what would happen then?
More than that, we can't forget that the Big 12 is likely to look for a couple schools to expand to 12 in the next few years. If Louisville is still a Big East member then, they could be a prime candidate. Cincinatti could be too. Would the Big East continue to reach out for other C-USA schools then?
With the additions of Tulane and East Carolina, nine of the Big East's schools will be former Conference USA members. As they continue to be plucked from, the league continues to become more and more watered down as a premier conference.
At the same time, their TV contract must be getting more and more watered down as well. At some point, the Big East just has to call it quits. The best thing would be for them to return to their basketball roots, and let the rest of us go on with our college athletics' lives.
Even then though, Conference USA still might not be done as the league to pluck schools from. If there were no more Big East, there would then be a handful of schools looking for a home. All of which would be former C-USAers. Would they want to return to their old league, or would they look to form a new one of their own?