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Big East Deathwatch: Day 19

The first rule of conference realignment rumors is that they have as much credibility as the source you hear them from. If you are active on Twitter, you can find a rumor about West Virginia announcing a move to one conference or another almost every day. So far none of the press conferences mentioned in those rumors have been held.

As much as West Virginia might want the SEC, that conference is intent to wait on Missouri to "explore" its conference affiliation.

Mizzou plans to do just that. After a Board of Cura

tors meeting today, it was announced that there was a unanimous vote to give the university's Chancellor the authority to take actions necessary to "explore conference affiliation."

Interim Big XII commissioner Chuck Neinas kept his cool in the face of what might be the first step in a process that leaves his conference four schools short of their name. He told reporters, "Missouri is member in good standing in the Big XII and I anticipate the University will continue to be member of Big XII"

While most observers are more skeptical of whether Missouri will play its' sports in a year or two, his statement isn't completely out of left field. Oklahoma's regents, remember, also granted their university president the same authority — which he eventually used to re-commit to the Big XII.

If Missouri were to stay, it is unclear whether the SEC will add a 14th team. If they did, it could be West Virginia, or perhaps a school from the ACC (a move that would create an opening in the ACC for UConn to slide into).

Either way, the Big XII is planning to kick the tires on a couple of Big East schools. One of those is Louisville, who seem to be interested in staying on board with the Big East if it can remain a viable league. Others include Cincinnati, TCU, and West Virginia. If Missouri were to join the SEC, Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, believes that the Big XII could go after all four of those programs.

The Big XII, however, has not yet decided how many schools to add. Some members, including Texas, prefer that the league have 10 members, while other want to expand back to 12 members, and apparently there was at least some talk of standing pat with 9.

The 10-member scenario could easily play out with BYU joining the Big XII and no major conference programs being raided — assuming that Missouri were to re-commit to their current conference.

Meanwhile, there has still not been any agreement announced by the Big East wherein members will financially commit themselves to the conference for the future. If they do, however, it is very likely that they will retain their automatic BCS bid and be able to command a shiny new TV contract that could make a lot of money for members. Those facts, combined with the ongoing drama surrounding Texas and the Longhorn Network, lead sports business writer, Kristi Dosh, to declare that the Big East was "more stable" than the Big XII.

Will athletics directors and university presidents see it that way when the Big XII starts knocking at their door with a big new TV deal in hand? If they did, wouldn't new exit fees and penalties already be enacted?

Temple applies

None of the Big East uncertainty has stopped Temple, however, from making overtures toward the Big East. The Big East presidents voted to "aggressively pursue" expansion at their weekend meeting, and Temple was apparently one of the schools on commissioner John Marinatto's short list.

According to a Philadelphia Daily News report:

TEMPLE, AS presumed, has notified the Big East that it wants to become a member for all sports, sources close to the situation have confirmed. But those people said the university also told the conference it would accept a football-only invitation, if that's what was offered.

It appears that the Owls are willing to do anything it takes for a seat at the BCS table. They would like to move their basketball program as well, but they perhaps expect some push-back from Villanova or other basketball schools in attempting to do so.

Mike Kern also notes that, "it appears there's more interest from the conference in [Temple], mostly because it can offer immediate help."

That said, the conference is perhaps not entirely oblivious to the long-term aspect of achieving some semblance of stability. Kern writes that Villanova may still be issued a Big East football invitation and that Father Donohue continues to "reiterate his university's stance that it is willing to revisit making such a commitment."

Apparently the possibility of having both schools in the conference and playing at Lincoln Financial Field has been discussed. The Eagles would need to sign off on the addition of another football tenant to their facility, however, and that might be a roadblock that stops that plan in its tracks.

(Update 12:30p): For more updates around conference expansion, check out Jon Wilner's latest blog post. Not a whole lot of new information, but he does confirm that the Big XII will look at a number of Big East schools. He also notes that this sources have indicated that the Big XII might be more and more interested in expanding back to 12 members, though nothing is "done" just yet (and Missouri's decision will impact the process greatly).