The college landscape today looks the way it did when we last talked conference expansion Friday -- the same. The SEC said Sunday it had no plans to expand at this time, but did not rule out the possibility for the future. All the speculation has led many Big East fans to wonder where the league stands in all of this.
There are a few questions and points to consider.
1. The Big East simply is not a strong enough conference to begin the dominoes falling on conference expansion. While I believe the league should try to be proactive when it comes to this issue, it does not have the clout right now to be able to go into another AQ conference and pluck one or more teams. In this case, I think proactive means putting out feelers to see who might be interested when/if the landscape begins to change. Does that mean calling up Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Boston College or Maryland? Sure. But I just don't see any of those teams packing up and moving unless somebody else makes a move first.
2. So that means the Big East is still in wait-and-see mode. The Big East would be able to add a non-AQ team right now, but why do that if you can potentially land a team from an AQ conference? The big unanswered question, of course, is whether the Big East would be able to save itself or end up getting raided. A lot of that depends on how far expansion goes when/if it happens. If a league decides to go from 12 to 16 teams, then the Big East might get a little nervous. Remember, the Big East has the weakest TV deal of all the AQ conferences. The window for renegotiation opens in September 2012, but the landscape could be radically different then.
3. One of the teams that has been thrown about as a potential candidate for the Big 12 if Texas A&M leaves is Louisville. Athletic director Tom Jurich told the Louisville Courier-Journal that he likes his team's imprint in the Big East too much to make a switch. Certainly the Cardinals would face a competitive disadvantage in the Big 12. The revenue distribution is not divided up equally among teams, and they would face the prospect of competing annually against Texas (and its Longhorn Network), Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Would that move make sense from a football perspective? You would be going from a wide-open conference to one that is dominated both on the field and in the pocketbook by traditional stalwarts.
4. Exit fee. Just a point to remember -- any team that wants to leave the conference would face a $5 million exit fee from the league.
5. TCU. I do not think the Big 12 would have any interest in TCU if Texas A&M were to leave. That league already has the Texas market covered.