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Times: How might Big Ten Conference expansion affect Big East football?


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May 21, 2010

How might Big Ten Conference expansion affect Big East football?

By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer

Skip Holtz spent last weekend at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, and the race gave him a new perspective on the ever-changing speculation surrounding conference expansion in college football.

"Everyone is trying to pick a horse," said the first-year USF football coach, who will attend the Big East's annual meetings in Ponte Vedra, which start in earnest on Monday.

With much being written about what the Big Ten might do, and how that might impact a potentially plundered league like the Big East, Holtz readily admits he does not know what will happen. He also wishes that more people - everyone, perhaps, except Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany - would do the same.

"You have 17,000 different things written, and it's all speculation," Holtz said. "Everyone is trying to project what will happen, but there's so much uncertainty. The process travels much slower than the projection."

The last time college football saw conference realignment, USF had much to gain, joining the Big East in 2005 after the ACC plucked Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech from the league. The question now is where the Big Ten will seek its growth - will it target one or more Big East mainstays, such as Syracuse, Rutgers and/or Pittsburgh, and in doing so put the conference's football future in jeopardy.

But the Big Ten, seeking new markets for new sources of TV revenue, could also raid the Big 12, with attractive options such as Texas, Nebraska and Missouri, and of course, the biggest coup would be Notre Dame, which is an independent in football but competes in the Big East in all other sports.

"There are so many scenarios out there," first-year Big East commissioner John Marinatto told the Providence Journal this week, "that it's created an unsettled landscape for every conference in the country. I'm spending my days and nights looking at where we fit and what we can do better for our schools."

Marinatto has compared the fascination with conference expansion to the widespread anticipation of the NCAA basketball tournament expanding from 65 to 96 teams; the tournament opted for a less drastic change, adding three more play-in games for a new 68-team model.

Marinatto has hired former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue as a consultant, and while Tagliabue isn't expected to be in Ponte Vedra next week, the league's athletic directors and football and basketball head coaches will be able to talk about their best course of action.

The league instituted harsher exit penalties after the last reshuffling, such that league members must now pay $5 million and give 27 months' notice, which would push any change to 2012 if not beyond.

Connecticut football coach Randy Edsall has said that the league's football coaches want the league to issue an ultimatum to Notre Dame, asking them to join the Big East in football or move entirely to the Big Ten. If that was the only loss the Big East took, it would allow the league to cherry-pick a Conference USA program such as East Carolina or Central Florida, keeping a 16-team basketball lineup and move to a nine-team football league, making for easier conference scheduling.

Could sacrificing Notre Dame preserve the Big East's current football lineup? Holtz is a Notre Dame graduate whose father Lou won a national championship with the Fighting Irish, but he still said has limited insights on what Notre Dame might do.

"I speak with no authority," he prefaces, "but I know that for a long time, Notre Dame has tried to maintain their independence. I don't think that they would succumb to that for financial reasons."

It may be months before the Big Ten decides how big its expansion will be, but the Big East's top athletic minds will continue to work on its best course of action to anticipate the first domino in the next power shift in college football.

Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

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If Big Ten strikes out with ND and Texas and they really want to make a bold move that would increase their TV revenues for BTN then they could take Rutgers, USF and UCF.

Rutgers will expand their markets on the east coast. UCF and USF would give them TV access to the center of our state and there are plenty of midwesterners retirees down the southwest coast to add all these areas to BTN network. Add that to recruiting, easy airport access and large size and this could be a move that would move Big Ten right next to SEC and ACC in our state.

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If Big Ten strikes out with ND and Texas and they really want to make a bold move that would increase their TV revenues for BTN then they could take Rutgers, USF and UCF.

Rutgers will expand their markets on the east coast. UCF and USF would give them TV access to the center of our state and there are plenty of midwesterners retirees down the southwest coast to add all these areas to BTN network. Add that to recruiting, easy airport access and large size and this could be a move that would move Big Ten right next to SEC and ACC in our state.

i hope that is a joke

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Hopefully that $5 mil is void when beast football is all gone

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If Big Ten strikes out with ND and Texas and they really want to make a bold move that would increase their TV revenues for BTN then they could take Rutgers, USF and UCF.

Wishful thinking.  The Big 10 would take a big hit ratings-wise with Rutgers, USF and UCF.

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IF this happens, USF Football will take a huge hit; CDOA2 would kill recruiting and attendance, so TV deals for the BE would have no traction-we would be lucky for at large system but who would play us?

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If Big Ten strikes out with ND and Texas and they really want to make a bold move that would increase their TV revenues for BTN then they could take Rutgers, USF and UCF.

Rutgers will expand their markets on the east coast. UCF and USF would give them TV access to the center of our state and there are plenty of midwesterners retirees down the southwest coast to add all these areas to BTN network. Add that to recruiting, easy airport access and large size and this could be a move that would move Big Ten right next to SEC and ACC in our state.

come on....why doesn't the big 10 just strengthen there own footprint and take western and northern michigan,  then they could go after the highly touted iupui.  then just to solidify everything take southern illinois.

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why would big ten takea non bcs school in ftu/ou/oc

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why would big ten takea non bcs school in ftu/ou/oc

I was being sarcastic smazza.  The big 10 will only take big schools.  They don't have to settle for 3rd tier institutions.  There is no way usf and ucf get invited to the big 10.  Big 10 will go after schools like nebraska.  If they look south it will be texas, unc, florida(not saying they would go).

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after expansion the have nots will be left even further behind

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