Conference Realignment: Boise State Still Planning To Join Big East

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Big East Expansion: Boise State Still Plans To Join Big East, Leave Mountain West

After flirting with the potential of remaining a member of the Mountain West, the Boise State Broncos will reportedly make good on their intentions of moving to the Big East.

According to Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports, Boise State had several conversations with Mountain West representatives in recent weeks about potentially staying in the conference.

Sources told the Broncos were considering remaining in the Mountain West for several reasons: the uncertainty about the Big East's future membership, the difficulty of securing a home for the Broncos' Olympic sports, the elimination of the BCS AQ conferences in 2014 and also a very real concern that their revenue as a Big East member would be substantially lower than initially projected.

But the lure of the Big East -- and the threat of a $5 million penalty if the school decided not to join the conference -- ultimately convinced Boise State to follow through with the move.

For more on the Big East, visit SB Nation's Big East Coast Bias.


Conference Realignment: TCU Leaving Big East For Big 12

Less than a year after announcing that it was going to be the 17th member of the Big East Conference, sources are reporting that Texas Christian University is changing its mind and now, instead, will be joining the Big 12 Conference. The move to the Big 12 could happen as soon as next year and will cost the Horned Frogs $5 million. The exit will also leave the Big East with eight football-play members next season, but only six in 2014 when Syracuse University and Pittsburgh University relocate to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The change of heart by TCU isn't, at all, surprising. Rumors of the Horned Frogs reconsidering their move were swirling as soon as Syracuse and Pitt announced their plans to join the ACC in mid-September. Also, the Big 12's geography is obviously a much better fit for a Dallas-Fort Worth regional school than the Big East.

"These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU," said TCU chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. in a statement Thursday. "It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what's best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."

The question now is: what the heck is the Big East going to do? Especially, since there are reports that if the University of Missouri leaves the Big 12, then the University of Louisville will receiver an invitation to replace them.

"If Missouri completes its anticipated move to the SEC," wrote Mark Ennis of SB Nation's Big East blog Big East Coast Bias Thursday afternoon, "then it appears that Louisville would be the next team in line to join the Big XII as it likely heads toward 12 teams and a championship game again. After Louisville, Sittler reports, BYU, West Virginia, and Tulane are also under consideration."

It seems as if we're witnessing the extinction of the Big East.


Big East Expansion: Syracuse, Rutgers TV Contract Breakdown

On Monday, The Sports Business Daily reported that the Big East Conference is negotiating with ESPN on a new television contract. On Tuesday, SB Nation New York stated that the new deal would be vital to keeping the league together.

Well, our friends at the Voodoo Five (USF's blog) have done an outstanding job of breaking down how much each school would get with the new projected deal when/if a network and the league signs on the dotted line. Voodoo's calculations are based on:

  • A $120 million annual deal (the median of the projected $110-130 range that experts say the negotiations are beginning at).
  • "The football and basketball portions of the contract would continue to be negotiated separately and split equally among the schools who play in the Big East for each sport".
  • "The number of teams playing each sport will not change during the life of the contract."
  • "The basketball portion of the contract would still be worth equal to or more than the football portion".
  • "The new contract would not be affected by any additional football teams joining the league this year or whenever". 



Now, because Syracuse and Rutgers are both football and basketball members the dollar numbers are the same as USF. 

"Obviously as a football and basketball member, USF makes more money as the contract balances out in value between football and basketball. They would get a share of each, and since the football portion of the contract will be split fewer ways, their total haul increases as the football portion increases."

So, to answer the question, is the TV deal split evenly between the football and basketball programs is no. The football schools do bring in more money than the non-football ones because those programs get both the football and basketball money (a 50/50 split), which is then divided amongst a smaller number of schools (eight, which is soon to be nine and possibly 10).

If Voodoo is right (and I trust that they're because they run a fantastic blog), one conclusion can be made: The only reason some Big East schools do not want Villanova to move from FCS to FBS and join the conference is because it hurts the overall dollar amount of the new TV contract. That's it. For the time being, the stadium situation is just a scapegoat.

In my opinion, this is the only reason why the Big East isn't being loyal to 'Nova, which has "won 19 team national championships and fielded one of the most successful all-around programs in the conference." If the Wildcats want to move up and join the Big East in football they should be allowed to, but because they will be a start-up program presidents of certain universities do not favor the addition because it hurts the overall vaule of the league (at least, in the short term).

I just don't understand why a program like 'Nova, which has committed to the conference for decades and now wants to be a part of its future in football, can't. That's like having a group of buddies who play in a golf league and now need a new member. One of the friends has never played in the league, but now wants to try. Are you not going to let that friend join your golfing group because he may have a few clubs made out of wood and may need to take some time to develop a decent stroke? No way. A good friend shows him the ropes and enjoys his company because you know you have a few guys that already shoot scratch golf or better, and the odds of you winning the league trophy are still pretty solid.

Those opposed to 'Nova joining the league can say what they want, but allowing 'Nova to join the league is the right thing to do. Unfortunately for Wildcats' fans it's just not the most profitable.


Big East Expansion: Conference Searching For United TV Contract

On Monday, The Sports Business Daily reported that the conference is now negotiating with ESPN on a new television contract, which expires in 2013. According to the report, the Big East currently averages $36 million annually in its six-year deal, while the new deal is starting negotiations at $110-$130 annually (split between 16, soon to be 17, possibly 18, schools). The ACC receives an annual payout of $155 million (between 12 teams).

"As I've written here often before," wrote ESPN's Big East Blogger Brain Bennett on Monday. "the Big East has fallen far behind other BCS leagues in television revenue, a situation that threatens to make it difficult for the conference to compete on equal footing going forward."

The conference's decision to expand to 10 football-play members last November was the league's first attempt to try and improve its TV value. Then later that month, when the conference invited TCU, which is located thousands of miles West of the conference hub in NYC, it was clear TV dollars was the most important piece of the league's future plans. Fast forward five months, and the league has now bulked at adding the Villanova football program, which was initially a front runner, because of the lack of (its stadium) TV appeal.

For the first time in years, its seems as if the Big East Conference is working with a divided front. On one side is the eight schools -- soon to be 10 -- that fund a FBS football program, while the other eight schools compete in a bundle of Division I athletics that included men's basketball, which has become the league's most respectable sport but isn't the league's cash cow.

Now, Big East Conference fans are forced to pick sides and beliefs. Side A is with the football playing members, which believes the conference needs to focus on increasing its value through football (IMO: a very greedy approach). While, Side B is with the non-football teams, which believes that conference should add 'Nova and stay true to its roots, even though, it may cost themselves dollars in the short run.

Of course, the non-football schools want to keep the league together because without Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia the conference would all together lose its long-time fan base appeal. (Sorry, a basketball league composed of Marquette, 'Nova, Notre Dame, DePaul, St. John's, Georgetown, Providence and Seton Hall will not be respected by anyone.) Meanwhile, the football playing schools understand that its basketball reputation may take a hit, but the dollars earned would make up for that loss.

Is there a chance that a two-division conference split could work? Of course, but I think it's very optimistic considering that all these moves are being made based on money. And, because of that why would the football schools share its new contract with schools who don't fund programs that don't help, but actually hurt, their cause?

This leads me to today's main point. This new television contract will be huge in keeping the Big East together. If the contract is large and lucrative enough that no program is upset about missing out on more dollars, it will work. However, if the new contract isn't big enough then I see a complete split being almost imminent because I just don't see the brass of football-playing members accepting the same percentage of money as a DePaul or Providence.

(For more on the Big East football expansion visit SB Nation's college football hub. If you'd like a first-program look check out The Nova Blog for everything Villanova football.)


Big East Expansion: More Heat Being Put On Villanova Football

Just six days ago, it seemed as if the Villanova football program was getting a raw deal from the Big East Conference, which is seeking its 10th football-playing member after adding the TCU Horned Frogs in November. Now, as time passes and people inside the Big East begin to leak information, it's becoming clearer that 'Nova's pitch the conference was not very convincing.

"According to one person in the room that day, the presentation didn't go well, for a very specific reason," wrote Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer Monday. "Villanova's president, the Rev. Peter Donahue, gave more an explanation of where things stood than a sales pitch. If he wasn't going to be a real advocate, it was natural for his brethren to wonder where the former drama professor really stood. Were they supposed to get excited about 'Nova joining them if 'Nova's president couldn't?"

On Sunday, Chris Lane of The Nova Blog had this to say:

"Essentially, the Big East switched their view on Villanova from "we really want you" to "show us why we should take you." But from all accounts, this was never made clear to Villanova. So they entered that March meeting with more of a "here's how we're going to make it happen" approach when they should have been really trying to sell themselves to the Big East - and not just from a stadium perspective, but also showing the conference how excited they were to join.'

In fairness to the Wildcats, the league did make an informal invitation to 'Nova soon after TCU was brought into the league. So, it is understandable that in preparation for the March meeting with the Big East bigwigs Villanova thought the cat was in the bag.

However, this doesn't excuse the 'Nova brass for being ill-prepared to sell their product to the league, especially knowing that there were some schools that didn't like the idea of adding a team from the FCS.

In the battle of public relations, score a point for the Big East, which needs a lot more wins to gain back its credibility.

(For more on the Big East football expansion visit SB Nation's college football hub. If you'd like a first-program look check out The Nova Blog for everything Villanova football.)


Big East Expansion: Possible Drastic Changes To Men's Basketball

The further the Big East Conference moves away from adding the Villanova football program as its 10th football-playing member, the more it seems as if the league's men's basketball landscape will change, and it could be drastic.

"... How does Big East basketball absorb new schools? The answer is that it doesn’t," wrote  Mark Blaudschun of Boston Globe on Wednesday. "Expansion would probably force the seven non-football basketball members of the Big East — DePaul, Marquette, Georgetown, Seton Hall, Villanova, Providence, and St. John’s — to consider breaking off into their own conference. According to sources within the conference, however, that would be a last resort."

That last resort didn't seem possible a few months ago when 'Nova, which is already a member in basketball and many other sports was informally invited to join the conference' at the FBS level just a few days after the TCU Horned Frogs committed to the Big East, but now it seems very possible.

"While everyone in the Big East would prefer to add a school for football such as Notre Dame or Penn State, those options do not exist,' wrote Kevin McNamara of The Providence Journal on Wednesday. " Instead, middle-of-the-road programs like Central Florida or Houston are alternatives that would bring existing infrastructure, coaching staff and football history many levels above that of Villanova."

"However, the so-called "basketball schools" like Providence, Georgetown and St. John’s have no appetite to cut another far-flung school into college sports’ largest partnership."

Now, if the Big East decided to add a school such as UCF, Houston, ECU or Memphis, which are all rumored to be candidates to fill the conference's final slot, then it increases the league's football programs to 10, but men's basketball increases to 18 teams, an absurd number. 

Another issue that will need to be settled is the conference television contract with ESPN that's set to expire in 2012. One of the reasons the Big East added TCU was for the TV market of Dallas-Forth Worth, which would increase the dollar value of the conference. Now, if UCF is added and there are now 10 football members bringing in more money and paying for the other seven school's athletic programs. I doubt that those 10 schools will be happy that their dollars spent on its football programs aren't earning more of a percentage of the TV money than those colleges that aren't. Thus, creating friction and a possible split.

As a fan of the Big East Conference, I would not like to see this happen. However, money talks and is the only thing that college presidents and conference commissioners care about. Just ask the Big Ten and Big 12.

Come back to SB Nation New York for more updates on this situation.


Big East Expansion: UCF Football Back In Running?

After Monday's news that the Big East Conference is re-considering adding the Villanova football program as its 10th football-playing member, league fans are now asking: If not Villanova University then which program will we add?

One program, the University of Central Florida, is extremely interested in being that 10th member.

"Even the brainless should be able to see that adding UCF to your league is a no-brainer," wrote Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi on Tuesday. "You're talking about the second-largest university in the nation; a university smack dab in the middle of a college football state and recruiting hotbed; a university in a top 20 TV market; a university that already has a built-in rivalry with Big East foe USF, which is located in a nearby but separate top 20 TV market; a university that has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in not only building an up-and-coming football program but in building a big-time athletic program."

Back in early November, before the addition of the TCU Horned Frogs, SB Nation New York thought that Villanova and UFC were the front runners for the two new slots in the Big East. Back then, 'Nova was just about a lock considering that all it needed to do was convince its board members that moving from FCS to FBS was a good idea -- which it was -- and also because it also was a member in men's basketball .

Now, that it seems that 'Nova could become an afterthought if it doesn't find a solution to its small venue problems, UCF, as Bianchi mentioned, could now be the front runner for the Big East final addition.

"UCF has a new on-campus football stadium that seats 45,000 and can easily be expanded to 60,000," says Bianchi. "It has the new Nicholson Indoor Practice Facility. It has a new basketball arena. It is the only school in the country to have its football, basketball, baseball, women's soccer, men's soccer and women's indoor track programs ranked at some point this season."

It is still very possible that the Big East and Villanova football could work out their issues, but if you're a UCF football fan your program is in a perfect position to finally get that BCS break that its has been looking for.

Come back to SB Nation New York for more updates on this situation.


Big East Expansion: Rutgers A Part Of Villanova Football Standstill

The Big East expansion of adding the Villanova football program is currently at a standstill and it seems that one of the SB Nation New York's local schools, Rutgers, is to blame.

"Supposedly, Rutgers and Pittsburgh are the schools throwing up roadblocks,' wrote Philadelphia Inquirer's Mike Jensen on Tuesday, "wanting to know if taking a team that plays in a 18,500-seat soccer stadium, PPL Park, even with the potential for expansion, really helps the league after a fall in which the Big East took major hits for not being BCS bowl-worthy with no ranked teams."

On Monday, the Big East announced that it is now undecided on adding the Wildcats, who currently play at the FCS level, but after months of deliberation are willing to spend the money to move up to the FBS level after receiving an informal invitation from the conference in late November. In early November, the league added the TCU Horned Frogs as its ninth football-playing member.

"The Big East Conference and Villanova University have worked closely with each other over the past several months regarding potential football membership," said Big East Commissioner John Marinatto in the statement Monday. "We will continue with our due diligence process and work with Villanova to continue to share relevant information and materials. The Big East Conference obviously very much values its long-standing relationship with Villanova and we are committed to continuing to work with them on this matter in an open and forthright manner. Until there is additional information to report, the conference plans no further comment."

Reaction to what is transpiring is being talked about by many SB Nation's Big East blogs. The Nova Blog is currently asking why is Villanova football just finding out about this issue now after seven months of talking (or possibly non-talking)? SB Nation's On The Banks (Rutgers) is defending its school's reputation, while Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician (Syracuse) is trying to take a bi-partisan approach.

The fact is, the Big East is looking very bad in this ordeal while 'Nova is just waiting to be picked to play in the BCS game. However, the Wildcats were told beforehand they were going to be one of the first picks. Instead, it is round seven and they're about to cry like Tom Brady.

Come back to SB Nation New York for more updates on this situation.


Big East Expansion: Villanova Football 'All In', Conference Now Hesitant

Villanova University is ready to commit to the Big East Conference as a football-playing member, but the league may not be ready to add the FCS program because of its soccer stadium reported Philadelphia Inquirer's Mike Jensen on Monday.

The chief sticking point, according to the source, is Villanova's plan to use PPL Park in Chester, the 18,500-seat home of the Philadelphia Union, as its primary venue. PPL Park would be the smallest stadium in the league. Potential plans to increase the seating capacity to roughly 30,000 have not convinced all the Big East schools to support the move. However, some Big East football members are in favor, and it still could be approved, the source said.

On Sunday, Terry Toohey of the Delaware Country Times reported that 'Nova is "all in" when it comes to being committed to joining the conference's football league as its 10th member. It has been rumored for months that the Big East has been trying to convince 'Nova to join the conference, which added the TCU Horned Frogs in late November, and has gone so far as to informally invite the Wildcat program.

"We very recently learned that the Big East Conference needs more time to complete its due diligence regarding Villanova’s potential football membership," wrote Villanova Universities' president Father Peter Donohue in a letter to faculty and staff. "Without a clear and formal invitation from the Big East, we cannot proceed. We are now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information and details we can. It is our hope that in the near future we will proceed with the Board of Trustees vote as planned."

It truly is unfortunate that this is happening to Villanova, which has been back-and-forth on the idea of joining the Big East from the get go. Now, that the university is finally committed, the conference may be backing out.

(For more on the Big East football expansion visit SB Nation's college football hub. If you'd like a first-program look check out The Nova Blog for everything Villanova football.)


Big East Expansion: If They Want, Villanova Is Next To Be Added As Football Member

According to a report by The Sporting News, Villanova is the next program the Big East wants to add in it's expansion plans.

"Now that TCU has linked arms with the Big East, joining the league in all sports in the summer of 2012, the conference will now look to Villanova to complete its planned expansion to 10 football-playing schools.

Athletic director Vince Nicastro acknowledged earlier this month that the Philadelphia-based school, a Big East member in all sports except football, is considering elevating its Division I-AA football program to I-A. A decision is expected in the next few months, and it will dictate the next conference realignment moves.

"Selfishly, I'd love for them to do that," Providence athletic director Bob Driscoll told Sporting News. "It would give us 10 football schools without having to look beyond our borders."

Credit needs to be given to ESPN Blogger Brain Bennett, who on Tuesday hinted that 'Nova was the next target.

"1. You're on the clock, Villanova: The Wildcats are employing their due diligence in deciding whether to take the leap into FBS football, as they should. But clearly, the TCU move speeds things up. As John Marinatto told me on Monday, the league expects a decision no later than April. But when I asked the commissioner if that might be too late, he answered, "It might be." I don't think the Big East wants to stop at nine, and if it gets tired of waiting for Villanova (which couldn't join the Big East until 2014 anyway because of a two-year NCAA provisional period), the conference may just move on to another school like Central Florida."

Bennett also had this thought on Villanova in his mailbag devoted to TCU joining the league.

"Villanova is kind of like an ace up the sleeve -- the Big East can go to it whenever it wants, because the Wildcats won't upset any of the other sports. And with a three-year waiting period before they could become full members, the football side would have plenty of time to adjust."


Big East Conference Expansion: The Impact Of TCU's Move

So, what does TCU's decision to join the Big East beginning in 2012 mean? It means this is a great day for Big East Conference football, which had been struggling to maintain credibility. It is a great day for TCU football, as it moves to a conference with an automatic BCS bowl berth. It is a blip on the radar screen Big East basketball will barely notice. Finally, it is a knockout punch to the Mountain West, which now has no shot at earning an automatic BCS bowl berth.

That's a mouthful, but that about sums it up.

Big East football coaches are happy, and they should be. TCU's addition provides a tremendous upgrade to the conference's quality and credibility.

"Obviously they are an outstanding program," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said.   "A lot of my coaches  know guys down there and they say they have great facilities.   They also have a great national reputation."

"I'm all for anything that strengthens the BIg East Conference," South Florida coach Skip Holtz said.   "I think this news will create a lot of excitement and energy (for the conference) considering the success TCU has had.  

"I think they will bring an awful lot of value to the table,"  Holtz continued.   "They've proven that they can compete at (the BCS) level and that they are deserving of being in a BCS conference."

For TCU, this now means they don't have to go unbeaten to earn a BCS bowl berth. They can do that by winning the Big East title, regardless of a loss or two along the way.

One thing of note is that no longer will the TCU football program have to worry that one nonconference loss ends any BCS bowl hopes. Gary Patterson's program has been held to a very high standard in terms of voters for the past few years. One slip-up -- heck, even a five-point win against bowl eligible San Diego State team was a slip-up -- and BCS hopes were dimmed.

And look at this year: Before Boise State's loss to Nevada, it was possible TCU was going to go 12-0 and not make a BCS bowl. Think about that.

Now, that's not a problem. Starting in the 2012 football season, TCU will be playing in a conference that has an automatic bid to the BCS party. UConn is in the driver's seat this season and they have four losses. It means that if TCU loses one game, the season isn't over in terms of playing with the big boys.

This move means TCU has the security of knowing if they win their conferenece, they are in a BCS bowl. Isn't that reassuring for Frogs fans?

Yahoo! Sports also pointed out that the move to the Big East should improve media exposure for the sometimes under-the-radar Horned Frogs.

The move to the Big East also creates more exposure for the Horned Frogs. The Frogs often are dominated in media coverage in the state of Texas, and there aren’t an abundance of markets in the Mountain West. That isn’t the case in the Big East, where it has markets such as New York City, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati and even Florida. That is besides the lucrative Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News understands the move, but says it will still seem strange.

We are used to strange geographical alignments in college sports by now. Teams don't really have to be along the Atlantic Coast to play in the ACC. Colorado and Utah don't exactly hug the Pacific Ocean but they will participate in the Pac-12 next year.


But TCU in the Big East is going to feel odd for awhile. We know the Frogs have been flirting with other conferences. Heck, they leave leagues at the rate of once every four years.

I mean, haven't the Frogs played in the SWC and the WAC and Conference USA and the Mountain West in the last 15 years?

But usually when a school makes a major change like the one TCU is announcing today, it can at least try to sell the idea that it's good for all the sports at the school.

This one seems strictly designed for men's football.

The loser in all of this, without a doubt is the Mountain West. SB Nation Denver explains:

So much for the Mountain West becoming a player in the next round of BCS talks. The league over the summer gained Boise State which would have made the league at least on par with the Big East and much closer to the rest of the BCS leagues, but  then Utah left for the Pac-10 along side Colorado, BYU chose to go independent and now TCU is leaving for greener pastures and will join the Big East.

A league without Utah and BYU would still have been a very good league with the addition of Boise State, but now with TCU gone and then adding Nevada, Fresno State and Hawai'i the Mountain West is a shell of itself and is a step up from the old WAC.

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