Following back-to-back national championship game appearances, Butler has built itself into one of the best college basketball brands in the country. Given changes in the collegiate landscape, might that mean the Bulldogs could be on the move out of the Horizon League to another conference?
Andy Katz has mentioned the scenario that Butler could be a candidate to join a changing Big East if the conference were to lose its football-playing schools, and according to the Indianapolis Star, the school and athletic director Barry Collier aren't necessarily opposed to change.
Collier indicated Butler is monitoring events closely and isn't sitting by idly. When asked whether Butler would leave the Horizon for the Big East, if asked, he said he would not address "what-ifs" or speculation.
"We, like every school, have got to be following the news," Collier said. "Because there are so many moving parts, there's a certain amount of things that would have to happen to really create a situation we’d have to react to."
Of course, it's a complicated and fluid situation. The Big East could very well change in the future, but how much is uncertain. If it holds together as a football conference, Butler does compete in the sport, but at the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League level.
And in basketball, the Bulldogs have already shown that winning a national title is real possibility while coming out of the Horizon League.
From The Post-Tribune:
And that's why [Valparaiso athletic director Mark] LaBarbera thinks Butler's not going anywhere. Not to the Big East, not to a bulked-up Atlantic-10, not anywhere. While the Bulldogs' basketball program certainly is strong enough to compete in a revamped Big East (they've been to back-to-back national championship games, you know), the Horizon League hasn’t exactly held them back (they've been to back-to-back national championship games, you know).
Butler won the McCafferty Cup as the most successful all-around athletic program in the Horizon League last year, winning conference championships in men’s basketball, volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s and men’s cross country and women’s golf.
The Bulldogs are doing just fine in the Horizon League. And while they won the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League title two years ago, they're not anywhere near BCS-ready in that regard (not that they couldn’t join a conference in all sports except football, mind you).
So we'll see. As expansion continues to cause a musical chairs effect in college sports, big-time schools are in play and could be on the move. Butler might not be a major topic of conversation as of this moment, but with a championship-caliber program, it has been known for some surprises as well.