<
>

Remaining schools with wandering eyes?

With the Big East on the brink of survival with the departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, it is no secret that the seven remaining football-playing league schools have begun evaluating their futures.

UConn, Rutgers and West Virginia have all reportedly reached out to several different conferences as part of that evaluation. ESPN.com reports that UConn president Susan Herbst is aggressively pursuing membership to the ACC. Rutgers has reached out to the ACC and Big Ten, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. West Virginia also reached out to the ACC and SEC, according to the Charleston Daily Mail. But it appears the ACC is not an option moving forward.

It comes as no surprise that schools are reaching out and trying to be proactive about their futures. While conference athletic directors have said in various statements that their preference is to remain a part of the Big East, they also have to do what is in their best self-interest. West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck sought to ease fans' concerns when he said in a statement:

"We will continue working to do what's best for our university and its athletic teams. No matter how the college athletic landscape changes, there is no doubt WVU is and will remain a national player.''

Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti told the Star-Ledger: "With what we're doing, I would just say this: We're continuing to be engaged in talks with several parties, and I think that's been the case for a long time more than the last 36 hours. It's always been our practice to keep those types of talks private. I've always kept that stuff in the family and I think it's important that we continue to do that."

ACC commissioner John Swofford said on a conference call Sunday that the league was happy at 14, but not opposed to expanding to 16 teams. What really could determine the future of the Big East could larely hinge on what happens today in Oklahoma and Texas.

Separate board meetings involving the schools will take place today, with conference realignment on the agenda. ESPN.com has reported the Pac-12 is involved in discussions about bringing Texas and Oklahoma into the fold -- a move that nearly happened last year. If the Big 12 falls apart, the Big East would work to bring in some of the schools left out of expansion. Iowa State and Baylor have been discussed as options, as well as Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.