Today in "As the Conferences (Re)Align: College Sports' Very Own Soap Opera"…
Word on the street is that West Virginia, pending formal approval, is headed for the Big 12. That makes the third Big East school to leave the conference in less than two months. In September, Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced that they were high-tailing it to the ACC.
The Big 12 moved quickly to replace Missouri, which is moving to the SEC. The Associated Press sums up nicely the current state of things for both the Big 12 and the Big East.
"The move is another step toward stabilizing a Big 12 that seemed on the verge of collapse about a month ago when Texas and Oklahoma were pondering a move to the Pac-12. On the other side, West Virginia’s pending departure from the Big East, which has lost two members and one member-to-be in the last six weeks, leaves the embattled conference facing another crisis."
The Big East, for it's part, is doing its best to duct tape things together for now while planning to keep the conference relevant for the future. Last week, we outlined the strategy:
"The schools that the conference has identified for expansion include: Air Force, Boise State and Navy in a football-only capacity and Central Florida, Houston and SMU in an all-sports capacity.
"Boise State would be a huge get for a conference that isn't considered elite by football standards. Of course, Boise, by any measure, isn't in the east. But given how conferences are reshuffling, geography has become an afterthought."
For now, though, the Big East may try to keep Pitt, Syracuse and WVU in the conference for up to 27 months (per conference guidelines). And why would they do that? Money, of course.
Via ESPN.com Big East blogger Andrea Adelson:
Because more than $20 million per year is at stake given the Big East's automatic-BCS-qualifying status.
For the 2011-12 school year, BCS conferences will receive $22.3 million for their qualifying team and can earn another $6.1 million if another member receives an at-large berth. A non-automatic-qualifying conference team selected for a BCS game receives $26.4 million but must divide that revenue with the other four non-automatic-qualifying conferences. If the Big East were to lose Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia at the end of this school year, it could jeopardize the Big East’s BCS status.
So where does this leave UConn? Pretty much in the same situation they've been in since Pitt and Syracuse originally announced their intentions to bolt the Big East: weighing their options, not committing to anything in the meantime, and doing what's in the university's best (financial) interests.
There has been no timetable on a decision from university president Susan Herbst, primarily because the situation has been (and likely will be for some time) fluid. But unlike many programs, the Huskies have leverage with their annually outstanding basketball programs. Unfortunately, this isn't about hoops -- the money's in football.