Big East, Big 12, MWC in three-sided state of conference confusion

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Let’s get this straight:

The Big East apparently wants Air Force.

Air Force is in the Mountain West.

The Falcons have also reportedly been on — at least at one time or another — the Big 12’s radar.

But the Big 12 could be inching closer to taking TCU, who is in the Big East.

Well, will be. They’re in the Mountain West right now.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what conference realignment has done to the two most vulnerable BCS AQ conferences and the non-AQ conference who has wanted so badly to be invited to the party.

Representatives from the Big 12 and the Big East are set to meet this weekend to further discuss what has likely already been the main subject of conversation for the past several weeks: how do we keep our conference alive?

For the Big 12, the problems are two-fold — and that’s not even counting the fact that the conference is still in a state of unrest after nearly collapsing for the second time in as many years.

Does Missouri leave for the SEC? For what it’s worth, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton has stepped down from his spot on the Big 12’s five-member expansion committee. The school’s Board of Curators is also set to meet this Tuesday, although the specifics of the meeting haven’t officially been announced yet. Could the Tigers slowly but surely be distancing themselves from the eight remaining members?

Even if the Tigers decide to stay, the Big 12 needs to return to at least 10 members to be a viable product for their television rights distributors. That’s where the Big East’s problems — Twitter trend #bigeastproblems — pick up steam. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told the San Diego Union Tribune on Thursday that there was “no question there have been conversations” between Air Force and the Big East.

Believe it or not, though, it could come down to a matter of whether Air Force actually wants to jump ship into troubled waters.

“I don’t know if I’d sign off to the Big East right now if I were an institution,” Thompson said. “If I’m one of the service academies or one of the other institutions (pursued by the Big East), I’m going to say, ‘Wait a minute. Who’s in your league and do you get to keep your automatic bid (to the Bowl Championship Series)?’”

“’And what’s your TV package going to look like?’”

Those are questions for which the Big East may not have answers. The fact of the matter is that the Big East, once again, is in backpedal mode after being blindsided by the departures of Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC. The remaining seven football members, including TCU, now appear to be fending for themselves because their conference commissioner, John Marinatto, is clearly inept at doing it for them.

If it weren’t bad enough, TCU could become a member of the Big 12 without ever even having stepped foot in Big East territory. The Newark Star Ledger explains:

“What it means is that TCU could be out of the Big East before it ever officially joins. According to two college officials, it would be an easy departure for the Horned Frogs, since they would only have to pay a $5 million exit fee and aren’t bound by the 27-month waiting period penalty unless they are Big East members as of July 1.”

The Big 12 has options if they decide to expand; it’s just that the Big East is part of those options.

The Mountain West isn’t in the clear yet, either. The loss of TCU — whether to the Big East or the Big 12 — hurts, but the conference would suffer an equally devastating blow if it were to lose its newest member, Boise State.

Rumors began circulating a few days ago that the Big 12 wanted to get back to 12 members, and Boise State’s name immediately appeared. Wishful thinking? One person thinks so.

One thing to always remember about conference plucking is the value a program brings to the table. Keep in mind it’s not always about on-the-field results.

That mindset would make one think that Boise State could still be on the outside looking in if/when this realignment drama ends.

If I’m being frank, I’d prefer it that way. It’s better television when non-AQ Boise State takes on a “big boy” once a year. It’s also about the only thing that’s certain in this entire mess.

Who’s in which conference?

Who’s suing whom?

Who’s on first?

My head hurts.

Arizona State hires Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
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TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State has hired former Cal Poly head coach Beau Baldwin as its next offensive coordinator.

The school announced Baldwin’s hiring of new coach Kenny Dillingham‘s staff a week after he resigned at Cal Poly.

The 50-year-old Baldwin spent three seasons as the Mustangs’ head coach, going 4-21.

Baldwin previously served as California’s offensive coordinator for three years after a nine-year stint as Eastern Washington’s head coach. He went 85-32 at Eastern Washington and won the 2010 national championship with three trips to the FCS semifinals.

Baldwin also served as Central Washington’s head coach in 2007.

Stanford QB Tanner McKee declares for NFL draft

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee is leaving school to enter the NFL draft.

McKee announced his decision on Thursday after a disappointing junior season on an overmatched Stanford team.

McKee completed 62% of his passes for 2,947 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season as Stanford went 3-9 for a second straight year.

Stanford will undergoing an overhaul with coach David Shaw stepping down after 12 seasons and several players expected to transfer.