Many questions remain about the Big East's plan to expand by adding two more football teams. Here are five of the most pressing ones:
1. How viable of a candidate is TCU?
Of all the teams mentioned as possible additions, only the Horned Frogs have any national cachet right now. If the Big East simply adds, say, Central Florida and Villanova, the rest of the college football world will yawn, or perhaps chuckle. TCU is the one team that can make a splash.
But will TCU be happy coming on board as football-only member, as the Big East appears to prefer? Can it find a home for its other sports, or will it seek an all-sports inclusion or nothing? And can the program maintain its success and consistency, especially if coach Gary Patterson were to take another job?
2. What will Villanova do?
The Wildcats will likely be the first domino to fall in this expansion process. The league wants an answer by the end of the year whether Villanova will move up to the FBS. It's not an easy decision for a small Catholic school that has no stadium that can meet NCAA standards. Villanova is the team many Big East schools want to add in football the most because it will not disrupt the other sports. But is it a wise move economically for the school? How long will it take for the Wildcats to be competitive? And will anyone in Philadelphia care?
3. Will the Big East stage a championship game in football?
Some sources and other reports suggest the Big East would seek a waiver from the NCAA to hold a championship game with only 10 members. This doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The benefit of a 10-team league is the ability to have a true round-robin of nine conference games, which seems to be the number that leagues like the Big Ten and Big 12 are going to, and the Pac-10 already does it. With no divisions, what sense would there be in having a title game? What if you have a team that finishes 9-0 in the league and the second-best team is 7-2 with a loss to the regular-season champion? Why would we need a rematch? A Big East title game might be able to add some value to a TV contract, but the conference would have to stage it at a home site because of the small fan bases in the league, and it doesn't seem like it would be much of a cash bonanza.
4. Is Central Florida a good fit?
UCF has a growing student base, new facilities and sits in a large, untapped market (Orlando) for BCS football. Yet the Knights have been inconsistent at best on the field. Perhaps a jump up in conference affiliation would help them improve, as it did for Cincinnati and South Florida. Speaking of the Bulls, would they try to block entry of a rival program that's just about an hour's drive east of Tampa? Would adding UCF help the Big East presence in Florida or simply add more competition for recruiting in that hotbed of talent?
5. Will any of this matter?
Big East expansion is aimed at helping scheduling and strengthening the league moving forward. But if the Big Ten or another league comes calling for a cornerstone like Pitt, Rutgers or Syracuse, the Big East still won't be able to counter that offer in dollars. So would adding a couple of current non-BCS teams be like moving chairs on the Titanic? And does adding more football teams tip the balance in favor of that sport within the league, leading to an eventual split between the football and basketball schools? Will adding more teams in big markets (though, in most cases, teams that are nowhere near the No. 1 product in those markets) add great value to future TV contracts or make a Big East Network more viable?
Lots of questions. We wait for the answers.