The Big East presidents today approved the process of evaluating potential expansion schools.

The announcement was made following the Conference Board of Directors meeting in Philadelphia.

The Big East will look to increase the number of football-playing schools to 10. The Big East currently has eight football-playing schools and 16 basketball-playing schools.

"Today, our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value," Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.

The question now becomes which schools will be targeted.

There was a Philadelphia Daily News report back in September that said Villanova, an FCS member, was considering moving up to join the Big East.

Lenn Robbins of the New York Post reported in late September that the Big East would consider adding TCU.

Robbins reported on Monday that Houston, Central Florida, Temple and/or Villanova are other lead candidates.

The Big East really has no choice but to expand. The Big Ten will add Nebraska next season. The Pac-10 (which will become the Pac-12) will add Colorado and Utah next season. The Mountain West will add Boise State next season and then add Fresno State and Nevada when those schools leave the WAC in July 2012.

The SEC is already strong with 12 schools and a conference title game. The ACC also has 12 schools and a conference title game. Even with the loss of Nebraska, the Big 12 should continue to be a strong football conference with powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma.

For the Big East, this is move appears to be about survival in the changing landscape of college football.

Newsday LogoDON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access