- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Big East commissioner John Marinatto said the league will hit the pause button on expansion now that Temple has been added for 2012.
But league expansion is not over. With the Owls in, the Big East will grow to 13 schools by 2015. So yes, the Big East wants to add one more team to get to 14. And ideally, that team would come from out west to help balance out that division with far-flung teams Boise State and San Diego State.
"It's our intention to obviously have equal divisions of seven moving forward, and over the course of the time between now and our television negotiations, as we better position ourselves to attract a quality 14th partner in football, we'll be looking to move forward in that direction," Marinatto said. "We want to get to even divisions, and I think we're looking specifically for a western partner to help us with that."
The Big East is set to begin negotiating a new TV deal Sept. 1. So it appears one more football-only school from the west will be added before September. BYU and Air Force are the most logical candidates, and perhaps the Big East tries to make a run at them a second time. Both turned away Big East overtures when the league was in negotiations with Boise State. At the time, the Broncos preferred adding one of those two schools.
Now that Navy is set to join in 2015, perhaps Air Force reconsiders. There is some uncertainty about the Falcons' future conference affiliation, since the Mountain West and Conference USA are going to form a new league.
As for other possibilities, nearly every school that has been added is in a major television market (San Diego, Orlando, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore). So it would stand to reason the Big East would want another school in a big market that also has had football success. That does not leave a lot of options among the remaining non-AQ teams.
A few other notes from Marinatto's press conference on Wednesday:
He said once again that the Big East would be open to allowing Pitt and Syracuse to leave one year early to join the ACC for the 2013 season. "We haven't actually had those conversations yet, but our membership is certainly willing to do that at this point given where we've landed," he said.
Marinatto also said the league would focus on re-branding efforts now that it has undergone a radical makeover. "Re-branding the conference and taking a stand in regard to a little bit of pounding our chest as to where it is we've landed is going to take place, and we're going to get professional assistance with that, too, by hiring a firm that will assist us in doing all that in the in the upcoming months," he said.
He also mentioned the possibility of a Big East championship game in 2013.