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More conference shakeups?

Here we go with this expansion, realignment or whatever-you-want-to-call it business in college sports. Now TCU is reportedly mulling a jump to the Big 12. Louisville is also apparently on the Big 12 short list if Missouri bolts.

Rather than review everything that has happened over the last sixty days, let’s talk about the future. What will this do to the Big East? Yes, the Big East seems to be the conference that ends up on the short end every time there is a conference shift.

TCU leaving isn’t a big deal since the school has yet to play one game as a member, but Louisville leaving is huge. Louisville has a legendary basketball program and a solid football operation. It would hurt the Big East immensely if the Cardinals packed their bags for the Big 12.

If Louisville leaves, you might be able to put the kibosh on Rutgers and Connecticut’s membership in the Big East, too. After all, football is driving the bus. Louisville and TCU’s departure would leave the conference with just five teams and no leverage when the time comes to renegotiate the BCS deal.

You can rest assured that South Florida, West Virginia and Cincinnati will be looking to make a move, too.

The picture we just painted was a bleak one. There is a bright side to all of this. Let’s say TCU and Louisville leave the conference and South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers and Connecticut all decide to move on. Where are these schools going to go? West Virginia is not going to the SEC. And we can’t imagine the SEC wanting Cincinnati or South Florida either.

Rutgers and Connecticut are clearly candidates to join the ACC, but that’s not etched in stone.

The PAC-12 wanting any of those teams seems unlikely at this point. The Big 12 might want to move on West Virginia or Cincinnati, but not both, especially with BYU a possibility. Incidentally, BYU could be a candidate for the PAC-12, too.

Boise State, which no one has talked about, could also figure into this conference realignment mess. The Broncos have become a major player over the last decade and would be a welcomed addition to either the Big 12 or the PAC-12.

In the end, several of the Big East schools -West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati- may be forced to stick it out. Is that such a bad thing?


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