BeyondU Sports has learned that Rutgers, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and UCONN are heavily leaning towards bolting from the Big East on Sunday when the league presidents meet.
With these five schools leaving simultaneously, only TCU and USF will be left as Big East football members in 2012. The coordinated move is designed to implode the conference. It’s believed that by dismantling the conference, these schools will avoid paying a penalty and won’t need to wait 27 months if they wanted to change leagues.
Since the ACC or the Big Ten would probably take either or both Rutgers and UCONN, these schools are in a great position. West Virginia would be swept up by the Big 12 in a heartbeat even though the Mountaineers mind is apparently set on the SEC. In fact, our WVU sources have said that the school has a handshake deal with the SEC.
The SEC is also reportedly in talks with Missouri but it’s unclear which program – WVU or Missouri – would get the first offer. It’s also unclear whether the SEC will try for 16 teams by the start of next season. We’re hearing that a possible hang up for Mizzou is that their facility upgrades, additional sports programs that would have to be added, Big XII exit fees, etc. could total over $40 million. These costs would undoubtedly hurt Missouri’s immediate chances of joining the SEC.
Louisville and Cincinnati have been brought up in Big 12 discussions but Texas and OU would have to sign off on the deal. This could be a significant hurdle but a lot is predicated on Missouri’s decision. If Mizzou jets to the SEC, WVU may become available to the Big 12 thus making Louisville and Cincinnati a little more desirable to its members.
It has become clear that John Marinatto does not want to be the commissioner of a football conference. Ask yourself this: If the Big East and Marinatto were interested in saving the football side of their conference, then why haven’t they invited Navy, Army and Air Force to join as was apparently their intention before Pitt and Syracuse suddenly fled to the ACC two weeks ago? Is it because Marinatto knows the writing is on the wall for the football part of his league to disappear? Sure seems like this is the case to us.
As of tonight, it looks like the Big East will be the tipping point to full scale conference realignment. But, like any good soap opera, there are swerves, cliff hangers and “gotcha” plot changes. If half of what we are hearing is correct, then Sunday’s scheduled meeting of Big East presidents in DC will be wild.
For more on the disarray of conference expansion and realignments, listen to Mike Leach on ‘Beyond the Coach Speak’ Episode 1 here.