Big East OKs expansion to 12 football members

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The question is, how are they going to get there when they’re only halfway to that number at the moment?

At a meeting conducted Monday morning, the Big East authorized commissioner John Marinatto to expand the football membership in the conference.  Specifically, authorization was given to expand the football membership to 12 schools.

Here’s the official statement from the conference on the expansion situation:

On a teleconference earlier today, our Presidents and Chancellors authorized the BIG EAST Conference to engage in formal discussions with additional institutions and are considering moving to a model that includes 12 football playing schools.

With the departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse at some point in the next year or two, and TCU’s expected announcement this evening that they will become a member of the Big 12 in 2012, the Big East will be left with a total of six football-playing members.  Of course, that number is dependent upon both West Virginia and Louisville staying; both schools have been the subject of speculation connecting them to other conferences.

So, where would the Big East turn to get to an even dozen members?  Air Force would seem to be a near-certainty based on the comments of the academy’s athletic director over the weekend.  Another service academy, Navy, is reportedly another very viable option, and would likely join Air Force as a football-only member.  Army has also been mentioned as a possibility for an expanded Big East, although the third academy appears leery of making the move.

UCF and Temple would also appear to be in the running for membership in all sports, including football.  East Carolina, Memphis, Houston and SMU of Conference USA have also been mentioned as possibilities.  The biggest coup for the conference, regardless of what number they settle at, would come from the Mountain West.

It was reported Sunday evening by multiple media outlets that the Big East is considering the pursuit of Boise State as a football-only member.  Regardless of what other schools the Big East ultimately lands, Boise State would be the absolute coup as they’re the biggest remaining fish in the expansion pond.  For a conference hoping to maintain an automatic BcS bid beyond 2013, the impact of BSU’s football program cannot be overstated.