|UConn AD Warde Manuel says the school has not had talks with the Catholic 7 or Mountain West. (US Presswire)|
The leaders of the Big East conference met in Dallas on Friday. With Boise State opting to stay in the Mountain West on Dec. 31, the league faces a new football future that will likely also be missing San Diego State. The Big East is reportedly prepared to move forward with or without the Aztecs, but are all of the remaining Big East schools on board?
Southern Methodist, along with some of the other new additions from Conference USA, have issued statements of their commitment to the league. But one report from Mark Blaudschun suggests that Cincinnati and Connecticut are exploring options that include joining the "Catholic 7" in their new conference. According to Blaudschun, the Bearcats and Huskies would place their football programs in the Mountain West with all other sports in the new conference.
According to sources at Connecticut, some UConn officials were considering a plan that would keep the Huskies with the Catholic 7–Marquette, DePaul, St. John's, Seton Hall, Georgetown, Villanova and Providence, as well as Cincinnati.
Others, including UConn Athletic director Warde Manuel, who was at the Big East meeting in Dallas, emphatically said that the Huskies' intention was to keep all sports together in one league.
Blaudschun went on to describe Connecticut and Cincinnati as "free agents" for the football landscape, suggesting that the Mountain West might be the most likely landing spots. With the Broncos and Aztecs back in the mix, the conference is more poised than ever to make an attractive offer.
But it's no guarantee that the Mountain West would even accept Cincinnati and Connecticut as football-only members. With Boise State and, likely, San Diego State returning to the league, the Mountain West could decide that it's better off without adding partial members.
From reading Blaudschun's report, it seems that keeping basketball and the Olympic sports were the key factors driving the discussions.
That report has already been denied by UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, who told the Hartford Courant through a school spokesperson that "UConn has not had any conversations with the Catholic 7 or the Mountain West" and confirmed that the school is "committed to its football program and its other sports playing in the same conference."
Just like with any conference realignment rumor, you never really know who, if anyone, has the big picture nailed down.
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