The NCAA football conference realignment movement took a couple of interesting turns this week. The first move was confirmation that Conference USA and the Mountain West are going to merge into a mega (bigger than even super) type of conference for football only that would consist of 22-24 schools.
The Big East was rocked again by the revelation that either West Virginia, Louisville, or both schools were on the verge of being invited to join the rebuilding Big 12. West Virginia also has some support in the SEC which is one of the things still holding up an official Missouri invitation to the SEC.
There are some in the Big 12 who prefer Louisville for a number of reasons. It is a bigger market that can include parts of Ohio and Illinois in addition to Kentucky. It is also a lot easier to fly in and out of Louisville in comparison to Morgantown, West Virginia.
Whatever was left of the Big East was invited later to help create a potential 32 team - 4 division - coast to coast football only conference. The Big East showed initial interest but cancelled a meeting to discuss the possibility when the Big 12 put West Virginia on hold.
On Friday morning the Big 12 announced that they had invited West Virginia to be its 10th member. They also said that for now the league would stay with 10 members which means that Louisville, BYU, and Cincinnati are out for the time being.
The Big East is still considering adding Houston, along with SMU and Central Florida for all sports, and Boise State, Navy and Air Force for football only. Which direction the Big East heads is completely dependent on what the Big 12 is going to do.
Houston, SMU, and Central Florida are all ready to make the jump. Boise State, Air Force, and Navy are still in discussions with the Big East while they think things over. That trio of schools won't make a move until the Big 12 decides what it is going to do.
If the Big 12 ultimately decides to go with a 12 team league (they will sooner or later) the additions of Louisville, BYU, or Cincinnati are a foregone conclusion which should kill whatever is left of the football side of the Big East Conference.
BYU has been in quiet but substantive talks with both the Big 12 and the Big East. The Big East may be a better fit for the Cougars since they can join as a football only member. Bronco Mendenhall was quoted the other day as saying that the unique culture of BYU could prevent them from joining the Big 12.
In the end will there be a 32 team - four division - mega conference that has a two tier playoff system which results in the winner getting an automatic BCS bowl bid? I don't think so. Why share the potential BCS windfall with 32 teams?
This would make a pretty good looking conference based on where things are at after today. It would have a pretty good chance of retaining the Big East's AQ status.
West - Air Force, BYU, Boise State, Houston, Southern Methodist, and Louisville.
East - Cincinnati, South Florida, Rutgers, U-Conn, Central Florida, and Navy.