Expansion Needed, But Not Coming

By Adam Caparell - February 19, 2008

Randy Edsall's right. The UConn coach went on the record late last week saying that the Big East needs to add another team to the league.

He's right because adding another team to the league would give the conference a ninth team and fix a glaring problem that's plagued the conference since its current configuration took hold: the unbalanced home/away conference schedule.

Each year some teams are held at a distinct disadvantage having only three conference home games and four conference road games while others reap the benefits of a more favorable slate. The Pac-10 has a similar problem with it's nine conference games creating. But Edsall and his fellow coaches are going to have to suck it up for the foreseeable future because as the Pac-10 is not about to add any new teams to its mix, the Big East is not about to change its ways anytime soon.

And you can thank basketball for that.

Even though football money sustains just about everything in college athletics across the country, the Big East is still a basketball league and it's future will be heavily influenced by it. With 16 teams playing ball every winter, we hear constant complaining from the coaches of the league about the shortcomings such a large league presents. So before any football changes can occur, something is going to have to be done on the basketball side - most likely a big downsizing - and Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese had gone on the record as saying there are no plans for expansion - or downsizing for that matter - anytime soon.

So for football's sake, simply adding another team to the league right now would do more harm than good to the basketball side because there are just as many scheduling conflicts and complaints with that sport as there are with football.

And any team the Big East adds football wise would do little to improve its stature nationally. The casual teams that have been thrown out as possible additions - Conference USA teams like Memphis, UCF and ECU - don't add a whole lot. And maybe the more logical starting point to look for a team to pick out from another conference would be the MAC East, which has seven teams right now. A school like Miami (Ohio), a prestigious university with a respectable athletic program, might make some sense to the Big East from a football standpoint. But would Miami (Ohio) ever be willing to leave the MAC? They've been there since 1948, all of their conference foes are for the most part within shorter distances than they would be in the Big East and with the increased travel comes increased costs.

So who knows where the Big East will turn to pick up another football team - or four to land that ever lucrative conference championship game. Something big is going to have to happen with the conference at some point because the future continues to revolve around football and the Big East's Catholic schools - all of which don't play big-time football - are going to struggle to compete with fewer dollars and resources than their BCS counterparts.

The Big East as a football conference still has a lot more maturing to do before it adds another team or two, but the writing is on the wall. The conference you see right now probably will not be the one you see in 10 years. Change will have to happen and despite the conference's strong basketball background and tradition, football will continue to drive college athletics and it's going to drive the Big East into some big changes, big changes on the basketball side and big changes Randy Edsall - and many others - know need to be made very soon.

News & Notes: The NCAA changing the rule to outlaw horse collar tackles is about as big of a no-brainer as there possibly can be. It's a shame that it has been allowed the past few season after the NFL began penalizing the practice in 2006. It took a big star getting hurt for the NFL to make the tackle illegal (remember T.O.'s broken leg at the hands of Roy Williams?) and thankfully it looks like the same won't happen on the college level. It's been a long time coming, but a wrong will be rectified for next season it looks like. The rules change has to be voted upon, but you'd think this would have no problem getting passed.

-- Very quietly USC signed a 25-year extension to remain at the L.A. Coliseum after there was brief talk of playing games at the Rose Bowl next season, home to cross town rival UCLA, last November and December.

-- Rumors have swirled that UConn and Notre Dame will soon hammer out a 10-year agreement to play games at Notre Dame Stadium, Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. and the new Giants/Jets stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. If the deal gets done it would be an understatement to say it's a huge deal for the Huskies, but the five games in the Northeast region is going to provide a lot of East Coast Notre Dame fans a chance to watch their team in person - and there are a ton of Notre Dame fans on the East Coast - and also a chance to further reach out their recruiting tentacles which are as strong as ever after what Charlie Weis was able to reel in during Signing Day a few weeks ago.

-- Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy signed an extension through 2013 to remain as the Cowboys head coach. The man will be 46 - for those of you counting - when the deal runs out.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 09:45 AM on February 19, 2008
Comments (1)


You're an idiot, Miami of OH being more prestigious than UCF, Memphis, or ECU? Better athletics? UCF is the 6th largest university in the nation, Memphis has a top ranked basketball program, and even ECU has better athletics that Miami of OH. Do you watch college sports?

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