BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters Monday that BYU had been “approached” by the Big East.
On Oct. 25, CBSSports.com reported that the Western contingent of possible future Big East members was making a push to add BYU
“There is a push,” Mendenhall said Monday. “And there are conversations that are in place for the Big East to convince or to have BYU join that conference. I trust our athletic director (Tom Holmoe) and President (Cecil) Samuelson to deal with all that.”
With the upcoming departures of TCU and West Virginia to the Big 12 and Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, the Big East will need seven schools to get to a 12-member football league by 2014.
Last week, CBSSports.com reported that the Big East's presidents and chancellors gave Commissioner John Marinatto authorization to extend invitations to Boise State, UCF, Houston, SMU, Navy and Air Force. Boise State, UCF, Houston and SMU will join the league together as a group, sources told CBSSports.com, once Boise State finds a conference home for its Olympic sports.
Sources told CBSSports.com that all six schools are committed to joining the Big East. However, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that Air Force remains undecided. If Air Force stays in the Mountain West, the Big East would need two schools – presumably BYU and another school.
That’s where San Diego State comes into play. The Aztecs weren’t shy about their interest in joining the Big 12 and now have turned their attention to the Big East.
Despite the obvious geography and travel concerns, the biggest reason for San Diego State’s interest in the Big East is to be a part of an automatic qualifying BCS league. The Big East is guaranteed its BCS status through the 2013 season with a new BCS cycle beginning in 2014.
“Certainly there are a lot of questions on our part, but with the landscape changing the main benefit that I could see on a short term scale would be inclusion into the BCS system,” Mendenhall said about BYU. “That’s up in two years. Again whether the Big East is able hold that spot with the new teams coming in? My guess would be yes.”
San Diego State feels the same way. Despite the great distance to the Eastern league members (Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida, Navy, Rutgers, UCF), San Diego State would prefer an all-sports membership – or at least in football and men’s basketball – sources said. They also would be receptive to a football-only membership and could be in a Western division featuring Boise State, Houston, SMU, BYU and Louisville.
San Diego State leads the Mountain West in football attendance this season (38,802) and since 2010, the Aztecs have won a combined 48 games in football and men's basketball, the nation’s highest total. San Diego State men's basketball team also has won 20 or more games and advanced to postseason play in six consecutive seasons, including back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.
San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk declined comment to CBSSports.com, but recently told the San Diego Union-Tribune: “The best-scenario is that we’re in a league with an automatic qualifier, an enhanced television package and we’re generating revenues to run all our programs. That’s the No. 1 goal, whether that’s with the Mountain West, Big East, or Big 12.”
Last week, Boise State president Bob Kustra received authorization from the state of Idaho’s Board of Education to join the Big East as a football-only member. The Broncos still must find a conference home for their Olympic sports before making the move.
Kustra told the board that Boise State has made it “very clear” to the Big East “we would go in with a western partner.”
That could be Air Force, BYU or San Diego State – or two of those three schools.
Mendenhall said he did not know how quickly BYU would make a decision about the Big East. The Cougars are playing in their first season as a football independent after leaving the Mountain West Conference.