Tag:Big East Expansion Update
Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:56 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 5:05 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Big East welcomed Navy to the growing group of newcomers for football on Tuesday, announcing the school's intentions of joining the league for the 2015 season.
Navy will begin Big East conference play two years after the addition of San Diego State, Boise State, SMU, Houston, and UCF - but still after the official exit of Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia. After more than 100 years of independence, Navy football will take on an official conference affiliation.
“The Naval Academy is pleased to accept the invitation for our football team to join the Big East Conference,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller, USN. “After careful consideration, we believe this affiliation to be in the best interests of the Naval Academy, our athletic programs and the Brigade of Midshipmen. While our independent status has served Navy football well to date, Big East conference affiliation will help ensure our future scholar-athletes and athletic programs remain competitive at the highest levels for the foreseeable future.”
A recurring theme from the Navy administration, and even head coach Ken Niumatalolo, was the idea that conference affiliation was the safest way to ensure a program's survival in these rapidly changing times. The administration mentioned the difficulties of scheduling opponents for the future, as schools begin to hold more dates open for conference play. The bowl affiliations, and television packages were mentioned as driving factors in college football becoming more conference-centric.
Searching for a permanent home, the Academy looked to the Big East - advancing a decade-long conversation regarding possible membership. One of the aspects that made the league attractive to Navy was the Big East's willingness to accommodate the traditional rivalries with Army, Air Force, and Notre Dame in the conference schedule. In addition to holding those three rivalries, the conference was willing to accomodate Navy's interests in hosting all home games on Saturdays - something of concern with the school's proximity to Washington, D.C..
With eight conference games, Navy's non-conference schedule will likely only leave room for one rotating opponent in order to maintain the Commander-in-Chief rivalry and the annual contest with Notre Dame. However if there is a change of heart at Air Force regarding Big East membership, Navy would only have two protected non-conference rivalries to schedule around.
Whether Air Force becomes the Big East's next target is yet to be seen, but one thing is clear: there will be more announcements coming from the conference regarding expansion.
"Please know our membership has worked hard to get to where we are today, but also know we are not done yet," commissioner John Marinatto said. "We feel we can get stronger, and will continue pursue interests from additional top-notch institutions to further enhance our competetiveness in both football and basketball."
If the Big East has 12 teams in competition for the 2015 season and a conference championship game, it would present a potentially unique situation for the Midshipmen. Navy could win their division in 2015, then play the Big East championship game a week before their scheduled meeting with Army to close the regular season.
For much more on Navy's move to the Big East, check out Brett McMurphy's blog and our Conference Realignment home page.
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