According to Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports, Big East member Louisville is still "aggressively pursuing" an invitation to the Big 12, even after being passed over for West Virginia late last year. In writing on the Big 12 and its need to determine exactly what the composition of the league should be for the long term and whether or not the conference should expand to 11, or 12, McMurphy writes that regardless the decision, Louisville is next on deck:
Go to 11? Multiple sources have told CBSSports.com if/when the Big 12 decides to expand to 11 schools,Louisvillewill be the choice. "They are clearly the best fit," a college football industry source said. Not only are the Cardinals the overwhelming favorite as the Big 12's 11th team, but sources told CBSSports.com that the Cardinals are aggressively pursuing a Big 12 invitation.
However, after Navy announced last week it would join the Big East, the Cardinals' exit fee to leave the Big East increased to $10 million. "The cost of poker just doubled," a source said. Even so, it's doubtful the additional $5 million is enough to keep the Cardinals from jumping to the Big 12 if they get the chance.
When the Big 12 extended an invitation to West Virginia last year it was a two-horse race between WVU and Louisville. The Mountaineers ultimately got the bid in a photo finish, but there remains a large sentiment for Louisville. Even though having 11 schools is an odd number, the Big Ten, which added Penn State in 1990, showed that a league can function -- and succeed -- with 11 schools.
Just how Louisville is going about aggressively pursuing an invitation from the Big 12 is unclear, but whatever the method, it's clear the school would like to leave the Big East if the right opportunity were to come along. This is something that Big East leadership must address in its discussions about further expansion as it is abundantly clear that instead of need to add one more team to get to 12, the conference needs to be planning to find at least two more teams as a contingency for the possible loss of Louisville (or Cincinnati, which McMurphy says has been mentioned but does not have near the support that Louisville does at this point).
McMurphy also writes that the Big 12, rather than expanding to 12, could mimic the setup that the Big Ten used after the addition of Penn State and simply stay at 11 teams and not have divisions or a conference championship game. He says it would be a slam dunk that Louisville would be the choice for number 11 if that were the conference's plan of action. In the end, he believes the Big 12 is ultimately Louisville's destination:
So what's the Big 12 ultimately to do? The new commissioner will obviously play a role in that decision. We do know West Virginia is joining one of these days/weeks. After that, I think the Big 12 has some serious discussions on the benefits of adding Louisville and somewhere in the future, the Cardinals receive -- and accept -- an invitation.