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Friday, December 9, 2011

The Big Everywhere (That's What She Said) Conference

The Big East has finally made the moves necessary to come out on the plus side, at least numbers-wise, in the conference expansion game. The conference announced earlier this week that UCF, Houston, and SMU will join as all-sports members, while Boise State and San Diego State will join as football only members. With expansion as far as the West Coast, I'm henceforth referring to the Big East as the Big Everywhere (That's What She Said) conference.

With that, I'm not being the sort saying "Hurr, Big EAST, huh?" After all, if I were a stickler for definitions, I'd have to feel the same way about a ten team Big XII, a twelve team Big Ten, a Pac-12 with teams from states that don't touch the Pacific, or a Southeastern Conference that stretches into Texas and Missouri (though at least there's historical precedent for them aligning themselves with the Southeastern US). That said, I like my conferences with some semblance of regionality, and while I first suspended my disbelief with TCU was Big East bound, Boise State and SDSU are a bit of a stretch for me. Still, if it keeps the conference viable, I certainly can't protest it.

A few interesting facts: First of all, there's no debating that the conference is weaker than it was before the defection of WVU, Syracuse and Pitt. That can't be helped. Still, the Big East likely picked up some of the best available in their attempt to stay afloat.  Boise State, of course, is a perennial BCS buster; Houston almost made it to the party this year; and SDSU, SMU, and UCF have showed flashes of promise as well. Recruiting-wise, the state now has schools in talent-rich Florida, Texas, and southern California. And in a conference with schools in all four time zones that literally stretches from sea to shining sea, there's plenty of regional interest and big media markets. Still, in most cases, the schools in the conference are also-rans in their respective markets.

As a USF fan, I'll have to concede that nearby nuisance UCF will become nearby conference rival UCF;  the folks over at Voodoo Five address that well here.

There's one more wrinkle: While I think it's simply talk right now, there has been discussion of the BCS doing away with auto-bids, meaning that the allure of being in an AQ conference is no more. If this comes to pass, will the western edges of the conference stick around or head for nearer pastures?
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