Marinatto: 'We're not waiting for Villanova'

The Big East has announced its plans to expand to 10 teams. Villanova is currently undergoing a study to determine whether it will move up to the FBS level and join the Big East, and that process is expected to be completed in April.

The two timelines, however, do not necessarily intersect.

I spoke with Big East commissioner John Marinatto on Tuesday about a host of topics, including expansion. I asked him if the league was waiting on Villanova to make its decision before it went forward with other options.

"We're not waiting for Villanova," Marinatto said. "It's their institutional decision to make, and they have a process set up to make it. They've got to determine what's in their best interest, and we've got to determine what's in our best interest."

Marinatto said he didn't have a good idea of which way Villanova was leaning right now and doesn't know if the school even knows that yet.

"It is a complicated issue for any institution, and probably even more complicated for a small, private institution," he said.

I asked Marinatto if the Big East could decide to add another team before Villanova finalizes its plans in April.

"If the right situation developed in between, we would move on it," he said. "That's a very real possibility. We're not going to make a decision or not make a decision based on Villanova's study."

This makes sense from the league point of view. The Big East originally had hoped for an answer from Villanova by the end of 2010, but the school understandably wanted more time to study all the many factors involved, especially the finances of big-time football.

But the league can't just sit idly by and wait for the Wildcats, who would need a few years to get up to FBS qualifying standards anyway. If the conference decided to add, say, Central Florida, it could do so now and easily fold in Villanova at a later date, as there would be very little transition with a school that competes in all other Big East sports.

I'll have more from Marinatto on Wednesday, including his thoughts on the 2010 season and the outlook for the league's future.