The Big East presidents were probably prepared for at least one more defection. They might have even been prepared for it to be TCU that left them. None of that changes the fact that the latest departure knocks the Big East football conference down to just 6 active members. Those six can possibly still retain their BCS access, but only by sticking together, adding new members and winning football games in the future.
The conference is not waiting much longer to try and save itself, however. The New York Times is now reporting that the Big East presidents are holding a conference call today (October 7th) to discuss expansion. It is believed that specific schools will be discussed during the call and invitations will be voted on.
Navy and Air Force had initially been the leading candidates in all of this, but reports are that the athletics administration at Navy has cooled significantly on the idea of joining a conference for football, and specifically the idea of joining the Big East.
Now at least one reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer, is reporting that the Big East is set to invite East Carolina and Central Florida during tomorrow's call. Both schools remain interested in joining the conference and would bring football membership back up to 8, while adding two very successful programs in that sport. Presumably both will be offered membership in all sports.
Will that be enough to keep Louisville from accepting a Big XII invitation? Would West Virginia say "no thanks" to the SEC? Could the Big East survive a defection of UConn or Rutgers by adding these schools?
Temple is also interested in joining the Big East conference in all sports (though they had previously indicated that they would accept football-only status. It hasn't been reported that an invite for Temple would be discussed tomorrow, but it would seem unlikely that anything is off the table at this point.
Will Villanova be included? The possibility seems less-and-less likely as the 'Cats are continuously moved down the list of priorities. The administration will likely have some concerns now about the league's viability. Don't expect any longterm financial commitments to be made by the university to a football program that might not have a conference to play in by the time a move is completed.
The only thing that can hold the Big East together is a lack of other options for its membership.
See also: Mike Tranghese on expansion - ""When they start talking about perfect fits and academics, that’s when I get tuned out. That’s P.R. gobbledygook."