MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Rutgers University announces its intention of joining the Big Ten Conference Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights’ former conference, the Big East, may see its place in a college athletics placed on life support and its survival may depend on a few schools that aren’t even in the conference.
Rutgers’ move came about suddenly over the weekend, but is a good move for the school. Rutgers will be able to tap the tens of millions of dollars the Big Ten Network provides to help with struggling athleti budgets.
Rutgers, one of only seven full members of the Big East Conference at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. Rutgers’ decision to leave the conference follows the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University which are both leaving the conference next July.
That will leave the conference with the University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, University of Louisville, and University of South Florida as the only full members from the 2012-2013 season. The Big East will replace Rutgers, Pitt, and Syracuse with several schools that don’t have the same tradition or history of success.
The new full members will be: the University of Central Florida, University of Houston, University of Memphis, Southern Methodist University, and Temple University.
But, other conferences may not be done raiding the Big East’s marquee teams. The Atlantic Coast Conference will want to fill the position once held by Maryland, which is also going to the Big Ten Conference.
The top two candidates to join the ACC are the University of Connecticut and the University of Louisville. UConn has the better basketball tradition and has almost begged for an invitation from the ACC. Louisville would be a better football school and expand the ACC’s footprint further west.
That would leave the Big East looking for another marquee school to add. Plus, the Big East will lose Notre Dame, an associate member to the ACC in all sports except football. Notre Dame will remain independent in football, but play five games against the ACC each year.
In addition, Boise State University and San Diego State University may be on the verge of backing out of joining the Big East Conference, according to ESPN.com, and instead, returning to the Mountain West Conference.
Both schools were promised major revenue from television deals, but with major teams leaving the Big East, those television deals are dropping in value.
Plus, Boise State and San Diego State both viewed the Big East favorably because of its access to the BCS as an automatic qualifier. With the BCS going away in 2014 and each of the five non-major conferences (Big East, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) having access to at least one spot in a major bowl starting in 2014; BSU and SDSU may not need the Big East.
It would also save the schools a lot of money by not having to travel to the east coast for games multiple times per year.
BYU is also looking at rejoining the Mountain West Conference in order to have better chances of earning a major bowl berth, according to SI.com.
No move is imminent, but with the Big East already losing Pitt, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Notre Dame and possibly losing Boise State, San Diego State, along with either UConn or Louisville, the once powerful conference will be left in ruins.
But, with conference realignment just getting warmed up again, nothing is out of the realm of possibilities and if Florida State and Clemson decided to leave the ACC, that conference could be devastated on the football field.