Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Big East to go on offensive for survival
By Jeff Caplan
If the Big East is going down, it will go down fighting.
Officials from the remaining seven Big East football-playing schools met Tuesday night in New York to discuss the future of the conference in the wake of the sudden weekend exits of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. They decided to stick together and seek new members.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte was in attendance as the Frogs are set to become Big East members in 2012. Del Conte has not returned messages.
The conference released a statement at the conclusion of the meeting regarding its strategy:
"Our membership met this evening and we are committed as a conference to recruit top level BCS caliber institutions with strong athletic and academic histories and traditions. We have been approached by a number of such institutions and will pursue all of our options to make the Big East Conference stronger than it has ever been in both basketball and football."
However, despite the supposed solidarity, damage to the Big East might not be done yet. Connecticut is reportedly striving to leave for the ACC and Rutgers could also be a defector down the coast. If those two programs leave the Big East would dwindle to just five football programs, requiring some hefty recruitment just to get to 10.
The Big East will gain greater clarity very soon. In fact, they might want to reconvene. Just after the conclusion of the Big East meetings, the Pac-12 presidents voted not to expand, a total game-changer for Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, which are now in a rather interesting and precarious situation.
The Big East and Big 12 had discussed a possible merger of the schools that remained if the Texas and Oklahoma 4 left for the Pac-12 to form the Pac-16 as most believed would eventually happen, and nearly happened a year ago. If the Big 12 survives, it will need to expand by one to get to 10 or by three to reach its original dozen, and Big East member Louisville has long been rumored as a target.
TCU has long not been a target of the Big 12. Could things change there?
Earlier Tuesday, TCU coach Gary Patterson expressed confidence that TCU will be prosperous whenever the realignment dust finally settles.
"I think we’ll be fine and we’ll move on with what we have to do," Patterson said. "But the biggest thing we can do is go win and keep developing everything."
Since the breakup of the Southwest Conference in the mid-1990s, TCU has competed in the WAC, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference -- all non-AQ conferences. Entering the Big East, one of six AQ conferences, was to be its big break.