Colleague Bruce Feldman has an interesting piece today with Washington, D.C.-area defensive tackle recruit Kevin McReynolds, who is being recruited by a host of schools that includes Pitt and Rutgers.
Feldman asked McReynolds how Big Ten expansion talk is affecting his recruitment. Here is part of his answer:
"The Big East basically is not going to be a football conference any more unless there is a chain reaction of all the CAA 1-AA teams moving up to Conference USA and Conference USA moving to the Big East. From there, the Big East teams are going to the Big Ten. Some are going to the SEC. Some are going to the ACC. To me, football is football. It doesn't really matter what conference you're in. You're all trying to accomplish the same goal and get to the national championship."
Later, Feldman asked McReynolds if coaches were telling him things about expansion:
"Right now, out of the schools that are recruiting me, I know Arkansas [is] going to remain in the same place. I know that Ohio State is always going to be in the same place. Oregon, same place. USC, same place. Pittsburgh, they're probably going to move. I see them as a program that's moving up and they're probably going to be in the Big Ten.
I have nothing against the Big East. I think change is good, but that's also something that could shy a lot of players away from the Big East schools."
Now, McReynolds doesn't know what's going to happen, and the coaches he's talking to probably don't either. The one man holding the cards is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. But it's fascinating to consider how Big East coaches are going to sell themselves to recruits with this uncertainty hanging over everybody. And how many recruits are going to take that into account?
Schools like Rutgers and Pitt should be fine, since they figure to wind up in a good spot. One would think a school like Louisville might have a hard time since its future would be affected by a Big East collapse, but Charlie Strong has racked up more early commitments than any other league school.
Still, it's early in the process, and if news about Big Ten expansion comes out late this summer or during the fall, that could have a profound impact on the signing classes for Big East teams, for better or worse.