Report: Big East Torn On Expansion Candidates, Considering Non-Geographic Divisions For Football

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The Big East is torn over which expansion candidates to pursue and whether to expand to 16 or 14 teams.

According to Brett McMurphy with ESPN, the Big East is divided over the two biggest decisions to be made about the future of the football side of the conference. The Big East leadership is divided over whether the conference should target Air Force or BYU as its 14th football playing member. The conference is also considering a 16-team football setup where Air Force, BYU, and Army are all members. It is also undecided on the makeup of the divisions for football. McMurphy writes:

The Big East is divided over whether to pursue Air Force or BYU as its 14th football member, while another option the conference is considering is a 16-team football league by adding Army, Air Force and BYU, industry and league sources told ESPN.

On Thursday, recently hired Big East commissioner Mike Aresco reiterated in Tampa, Fla., that the conference will add a 14th football member, echoing comments that former commissioner John Marinatto made months ago that it would add another member from out West to get to 14 teams.

Adding all three teams to go to a 16 team football conference would obviously add volume and value to a potential television rights deal, but man would it make for an unwieldy football conference. The WAC's attempt at a 16 team football conference didn't last very long. Hopefully, a new televisions contract with enough value will be enough to entice BYU and the Big East can call it a day for expansion.

As for divisions for football, McMurphy reports the Big East is looking at a number of options including divisions that are loosely geographically based, but, the most popular option appears to be dividing the conference along non-geographical lines into "red" and "blue" divisions. McMurphy again:

When the Big East grows to 14, league officials already have had discussions how to split the divisions. The most popular 14-team model, sources said, would be "Red" and "Blue" divisions that are non-geographic.

The Red Division would consist of Louisville, South Florida, Connecticut, San Diego State, SMU, Navy and Memphis. The Blue Division: Cincinnati, Central Florida, Rutgers, Boise State, Houston, Temple and the 14th team.

Each team would play six league games within its division and two games against the other division, including one permanent cross-division rival game. Those annual cross-division matchups would be: Louisville-Cincinnati; USF-UCF; UConn-Rutgers; San Diego State-Boise State; SMU-Houston; Navy-Temple and Memphis vs. the 14th team.

I'm not a fan of non-geographical divisional alignment, but, the Big East has odd geography no matter how they setup the divisions, so maximizing television value by manufacturing some of the better games more often or possibly in a conference championship game is fine with me.

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