The Big East football conference was falling apart this fall, and the remaining members worked to rebuild it. By the new year, five new members had been announced and three more joined them in the months that followed. The rebuilt Big East may not have been built out of steel and concrete, however, and it seems that at least one of the new recruits is trying to hedge their bets.
This afternoon, the San Jose Mercury's Jon Wilner tweeted, "San Diego State talking to MWC about reserving spot in revamped league in case Big East doesn't work out."
A number of pundits seemed to scratch their heads in response to the news that SDSU was expressing some interest in a Mountain West/Conference USA super-conference. What would constitute the Big East "not working out"? How does one "reserve a spot" in a conference?
The initial reaction is that SDSU might be concerned about the continued existence of the BCS automatic qualifier tag, but even that doesn't make much sense. The most likely scenario for the Big East to lose access to the BCS AQ is one where major college football eliminates the AQ system entirely — in which case, the new Mountain West wouldn't have one either.
More likely, they are seeking a back-up plan in case the Big East's next television deal is more pedestrian than expected. Few would expect that the Big East would receive a lower per-school payout than the future MWC/CUSA television deal, and it should receive a significantly-larger contract.
So while SDSU is flirting with the Mountain West about rejoining (or never-leaving?), that eventuality is perhaps still unlikely. If it did occur, however, the Big East might need at least one other football school in the mountain or pacific time zone to be a travel partner for Boise State — who will bring much football clout to the conference. If Boise State also backed out of their commitment, the Big East would be forced to revisit and redesign its planned football configuration.
All of that would have an effect on Villanova's football future as well. The conference and Villanova are believed to be waiting on the new television deal to decide how to proceed with a proposed upgrade for Villanova football. Based on these reports, that wait may be more about determining the level of commitment of incoming and current membership than it is about seeking a specific amount of money.
Updated 10:30p - The U-T San Diego newspaper spoke to SDSU athletic director Jim Sterk, who claimed that the story about speaking to the MWC was incorrect. "Not true," he said, "We’re full steam ahead. We’re excited about the upcoming 2013 season when we move into the Big East (in football) and Big West (in other sports)."
CAA has not approached Stony Brook
"We're very happy in the America East and the Big South," Stony Brook AD Jim Fiore told Newsday's Zach Schonbrun. Despite that, the Seawolves sports boss believes that his football team — one of only two full scholarship FCS programs in the northeast that isn't currently a CAA member — can play at and compete on the CAA's level.
Others believe it as well, and the Long Island school been among the top programs in the Big South conference recently, winning or sharing the last two conference titles. Their budget and facilities are also on par with the CAA schools and they have recently added some high profile FBS transfers, including the Big Ten's second-leading rusher from last year, Marcus Coker.
It may be inevitable that Stony Brook joins the CAA football eventually, but for now, Fiore reports that he has not had any conversations with the CAA about joining that conference. If commissioner Yeager were to reach out, however, it seems that the Seawolves are ready to listen.