Blog Entry

Big East to play 10, 11 conference games?

Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 2:41 pm
 
Posted by Tom Fornelli

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who is also the father of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, recently sat down for an interview with the school's MSNsportsNET.com, and while the majority of the back and forth was the type of thing you'd expect between a school and its own athletic director, there were some remarks that Luck made that could shine a light on the future of the Big East.

Luck was asked about what adding a ninth member in TCU, and probably a tenth member, could mean for football scheduling within the conference. Turns out that the Big East may have some changes in store that we've never seen before. The emphasis added to the Luck's quotes are mine.
Last fall the Big East Conference added a ninth football member in TCU and the possibility remains high that a 10th team could be added in the near future. Naturally that is something you must keep a close eye on because of its direct impact on football scheduling. What are some of the challenges and/or opportunities further Big East expansion pose to your long-term planning for the athletic department?
OL: Number one, football is crucial and is responsible for the bulk of our revenue. Number two, every team has a scheduling philosophy. For us, we want to have a high profile, attractive AQ non-conference opponent on our schedule. We’ve got LSU this year and we had Auburn in the past. Going forward, we have Michigan State and Florida State. In addition, we have extended our series with Maryland, which is very important for us. The proximity and the importance of the Baltimore/Washington D.C. recruiting area is crucial for us. Then we have historically played a I-AA team like Coastal Carolina or Norfolk State. We also have a tradition of playing a MAC school and of course over the past decade or so the Marshall series has been a fixture on our schedule. But with the addition of TCU and the expectation of a 10th member very soon, we have no option but to sit tight and wait and see what happens with our conference. It is highly likely that we will have nine conference games in the near future and if that is the case we will certainly have to review our non-conference scheduling priorities. Also, one development that we have noticed is that there are more and more opportunities to play the so-called “one-off” games. We will be playing BYU at FedEx Field, for example, and these matchups are becoming more common.
The real question is if the conference ends up going to 12 and having a North and South Division or an East and West Division. I could see the day when we play 10 conference games - or even 11 conference games. There is a good bit in flux right now and we need to keep our powder dry until some important decisions are made regarding the future composition of the Big East.
Now, it's important to point out that Luck doesn't say that the Big East expanding to 12 teams is the current plan, nor is playing ten or eleven conference games. Still, the fact that he mentions the possibilities does lead you to believe that the idea may have come up in discussions, which would certainly be a new development in college football. It could also be one that works well for the Big East.


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After all, when it comes to other BCS conferences, one of the complaints is how members of BCS conferences feed on FCS "cupcakes" at the beginning of the year. The month of September is filled with such sacrifices to the BCS gods. Yes, once in a while you have Jacksonville State knock off Ole Miss, or James Madison take down Virginia Tech, but the majority of the time we get final scores like 55-3.

If the Big East were to expand to 12 teams, and play an 11-game schedule, that would lead to only one non-conference game being played by each member of the conference. Sure, some teams may use that as an opportunity to play a cupcake, but in West Virginia's case, that game could be against Maryland. Other schools may use the "free" game to play a rival as well.

Which would mean that just about every single game in the Big East would mean something, either in the rivalry sense, or a BCS berth sense. Something that, while it may not make the Big East the best football conference in the country, could wind up making it one of the most entertaining.

Will it happen? That I doubt. The fact is that teams like those cupcake games to help pick up easy victories and get closer to bowl eligibility. Picking up six wins a year would likely be a lot tougher to do playing 11 games within your own conference. So I think that we should expect to see a nine-game conference schedule in the Big East in 2012, and possibly even 12 teams five years from now, but the expansion will stop there.

Still, it is an interesting idea from the fan/viewer standpoint.

Hat tip: @Mengus22

Photo courtesy of MSNsportsNET.com
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