Realigning the Big East: Who Should Be Added

The Big East was sacked last weekend when Pittsburgh and Syracuse applied to the ACC. This week it was UConn and West Virginia (and probably more teams) looking elsewhere. The Big East football conference is down to six teams (although Syracuse and Pitt look like they will be made to honor their Big East contract for a couple more years). TCU would make seven if they stay with the conference. So what does the Big East do know? It looks like the Big 12 is going to try and stick together so they (or the ACC) could try to poach another Big East team or two. The Big East needs to make their move now and attempt to strengthen it’s conference so that they can keep their BCS status going forward. Our Big East guy, Pete Sonski, wrote an article earlier today that got me thinking on who should be added to the Big East so I decided to do some research and see which teams I thought would be the best fit.

Let’s take a look at some teams and what they might offer the Big East. Some of these have been mentioned as possible Big East targets, others make sense regionally and some I was just intrigued about. For the purpose of this article (and since we are a college football blog) we are mainly going to focus on college football and not really on the rest of the sports and how they might fit in the Big East:

 

THE CANDIDATES

EAST CAROLINA PIRATES

Location: Greenville, North Carolina

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 27,816 (in comparison Syracuse has 20,407 and Pitt has 28,823)

Rivals: NC State, Southern Miss, UNC

2010 Football Attendance: 49,665 per home game

Had 8th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

Had 99.13% capacity on attendance in 2010

Stadium Capacity: 50,000

Attendance was higher than Arizona State, Colorado, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Indiana, TCU, USF, Purdue, Maryland and Iowa State

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $29 Million (76th out of 118)- in comparison Cincinnati was the lowest revenue Big East team at 67th

 

HOUSTON COUGARS

Location: Houston, Texas

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 38,752

Rivals: Rice

2010 Football Attendance: 31,728

Had 11th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

Had 99.15% capacity on attendance in 2010

Stadium Capacity: 32,000

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $30 M (73rd out of 118)

 

MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD

Location: Huntington, West Virginia

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 9,692

Rivals: East Carolina, Ohio, UCF, West Virginia

2010 Football Attendance: 27,046

Stadium Capacity: 38,019

Had 14th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $21 M (92nd out of 118)

 

SMU MUSTANGS

Location: Dallas, Texas

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 7,000

2010 Football Attendance: 23,515

Stadium Capacity: 32,000

Had 30th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $33 M (69th out of 118)

 

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI GOLDEN EAGLES

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 18,029

Rivals: Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Tulane

2010 Football Attendance: 29,400

Stadium Capacity: 36,000

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $14 M (111th out of 118)

Was the lowest Conference USA team in revene for that time period

 

TEMPLE OWLS

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Conference Affiliation: MAC

Students: 37,696

Rivals: Buffalo, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Villanova

2010 Football Attendance: 20,515

Had 22nd highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010 

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $29 M (79th out of 118)

 

UCF KNIGHTS

Location: Orlando, Florida

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 56,337

Rivals: East Carolina, Marshall, Tulsa, USF

2010 Football Attendance: 39,614

Attendance was higher than Boston College, Cincinnati, Northwestern, UConn, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Washington State

Stadium Capacity: 45,301

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $28 M (78th out of 118)

 

VILLANOVA WILDCATS

Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania

Conference Affiliation: CAA (FCS)

Rivals: Delaware, Temple

2010 Football Attendance: 8,573

Stadium Capacity: 12,500

 

THEY WOULDN’T, WOULD THEY?:

APPALACHIAN STATE MOUNTAINEERS

Location: Boone, North Carolina

Conference Affiliation: Southern (FCS)

Students: 17,222

Rivals: Furman, Georgia Southern, Western Carolina

2010 Football Attendance: 25,715 (largest in FCS)

 

AIR FORCE FALCONS

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Conference Affiliation: MWC

Students: 4,417

Rivals: Army, Navy, Colorado State

2010 Football Attendance: 40,093

Stadium Capacity: 52,480

Had 15th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $30 M (74th out of 118)

 

ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS

Location: West Point, New York

Conference Affiliation: Independent

Students: 4,487

Rivals, Army, Navy, Notre Dame, Rutgers

2010 Football Attendance: 31,667

Stadium Capacity: 40,000

Had 20th highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010


GEORGIA STATE PANTHERS

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Conference Affiliation: FCS Independent

Students: 31,533 

2010 Football Attendance: 17,094

Stadium Capacity: 71,228

Football team has only been in existence since 2010 

 

MEMPHIS TIGERS

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 23,031

2010 Football Attendance: 23,918

Stadium Capacity: 62,380

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $33 M (68th out of 118)

Was the highest Conference USA team in revenue for that time period

 

NAVY MIDSHIPMEN

Location: Annapolis, Maryland

Conference Affiliation: Independent

Students: 5,760

Rivals: Air Force, Army, Maryland, Notre Dame, Rutgers

2010 Football Attendance: 32,653

Stadium Capacity: 34,000

 

RICE OWLS

Location: Houston, Tennessee

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 5,760

2010 Football Attendance: 25,571

Stadium Capacity: 70,000

Had 3rd highest attendance increase in FBS from 2009 to 2010

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $26 M (81st out of 118)

 

TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANES

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Conference Affiliation: Conference USA

Students: 4,165

2010 Football Attendance: 20,379

Stadium Capacity: 30,000

2007/2008 Football Revenue: $25 M (83rd out of 118)

 

UMASS MINUTEMEN

Location: Amherst, Massachusetts

Conference Affiliation: CAA (FCS)- joining MAC (FBS) in 2013

Students: 68,315 (over 5 campuses); Amherst has 27,269

Rivals: New Hampshire, Rhode Island

2010 Football Attendance: 13,005

Stadium Capacity: 17,000

 

THE OPTIONS:

THE SERVICE ADADEMIES

One hot rumor is the Big East adding the two unaffiliated service academies, Army and Navy, as football members only. If this was done it would bring the conference to nine teams and somewhat stabilize it. This might be doable if one to three other teams were plucked to go with them. Overall though, I’m not a huge fan of bringing the service academies to the Big East. I like them as independents and it further complicates the separation of sports in the Big East and just creates more confusion.

 

GO BIG WITH TEXAS TEAMS

I haven’t really heard this theory but since they already have TCU why not add three more Texas teams like Houston, SMU and Rice? Houston is by far the most desired of these three but creating a hub in Texas would help with many things including travel costs for TCU having to go half-way across the country for various sports. I like the idea of a hub but I don’t think that SMU and Rice bring enough to the table to bring them into an AQ conference.

 

GO NORTHEAST HEAVY

Another option is to try and stay with the Big East’s Northeast roots and gobble up the NE teams (or somewhat northest) like Temple, Villanova and Marshall to bring the conference to 10 teams.

 

EXPAND SOUTH ALONG THE COAST

USF looks awful lonely down south and adding UCF and East Carolina are probably the best two options for the Big East if they are looking for schools that will bring attedance, fans and revenue to the mix (I know it’s not a lot but it’s more than the other candidates in a lot of cases). Add them and Memphis and you add some southern flavor and you might have your best 10.

 

MY PLAN:

After looking over the data I’ve compiled and assuming that TCU keeps their commitment to the Big East here is who I would add:

Team #8: East Carolina- Their attendance is already higher than Cincinnati, TCU and UConn and they will only get more popular and better recognition with the move to the Big East (much like USF and others have before them). I think they would be a good football fit for the Big East.

Team #9: UCF- They are a large University with solid football attendance and they would provide a natural rival for USF. They have had some controversy lately but they look like a school on the rise and could come in and compete with many in the Big East right now in football.

Team #10: Houston- They are one of the highest revenue generating teams based on the report I used, they are located in a major city (much like UCF), they have solid attendance which improved last year in a down year and they would provide a natural rival for TCU.

Team #11: Memphis- This is where you think I fell off my rocker but I’m thinking revenue opportunities as well as a basketball/football natural rivalry with Louisville. I know the football team sucks but eventually it will be better and maybe that booster that was offerring cash to get them into a conference is still out there. Memphis makes a lot of sense to me if you don’t just look at actual W-L records on the football field.

Team #12: Temple or Appalachian State- I would take a long, long look at App State if I was the Big East. I know it sounds crazy but they had the highest attendance in all of the FCS last year. They have recently renovated their stadium to make it bigger but they would need to again if they made the jump to the Big East or build a new one. Back in August a committe at App State said the football team should make the jump to FBS. I’m not sure where they are at now but they would be an interesting addition once Pitt and Syracuse have gone to the ACC. As one of the strongest teams in the conference App State would make no sense but if you tell me that they are the 12th best team in the conference and have a chance to grow into something in the future then it makes sense.

If the Big East doesn’t want to take the leap with Appalachian State then they should default to Temple as the #12 team. They make sense from a basketball/football standpoint and from a geographic standpoint.

So here’s my Big East (once Pitt and Syracuse go bye bye). I’m going with App State over Temple just because Temple has already had their shot:


NORTH

Cincinnati

Memphis

Louisville

Rutgers

UConn 

West Virginia 

 

SOUTH

Appalachain State

East Carolina

Houston

TCU

UCF

USF 

 

OR

 

EAST

Appalachian State

Cincinnati

East Carolina

Rutgers

UConn

West Virginia

 

WEST

Houston

Louisville

Memphis

TCU

UCF

USF

 

Thoughts?

 

Here are a couple of links that I used for the data in this article (in addition to Wikipedia):

2010 NCAA Attendance Figures

Harvard Sports Attendance Analysis

Orlando Sentinel: Revenue Figures

Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, writer for Crystal Ball Run and founder of College Football Zealots

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