Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports is reporting that the Big East Conference has reached out to Fresno State and UNLV as possible additions to the ever-changing conference. In addition, Dodd reports that Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has also spoken to BYU at least in "informal conversations."
At first glance, some folks might be shaking their heads. However, the Big East might actually be on to something.
UNLV sits in the No. 42 television market in the nation, and Las Vegas is home to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, which could be an excellent western partner for the Big East.
Fresno State is located in the No. 55 television market, and their football program is respected around the nation. They are also a natural rivalry for San Diego State and Boise State.
BYU is a no-brainer. The Big East would love to have the Cougars for many reasons. However, they would be the hardest to land, and it would probably take a serious sweetheart deal with many television concessions involved.
Now, before people jump to the conclusion that this is a silly idea, think about what could come out of all of this. With the recent departure of seven Catholic schools known for their basketball play, the Big East may be primed for radical reinvention.
For starters, they could choose to rename the conference
The Big East name carries too much baggage, and a new name may help to overcome the stigma now attached to the seemingly cursed name. Not only that, but it really isn't an "eastern" conference any more. Especially if two or three more western schools jump on board.
Mike Aresco could easily work with a marketing team and come up with a great new name, develop some logos and sign a new licensing agreement. It seems like it would be a great way to start what will be, for all intents and purposes, a brand new conference.
Get to 16 teams and you could add a western division for all sports
If the Big East, or whatever new name they choose, could get to 16 teams, with eight in a western division and eight in an eastern division, they could actually do some interesting things.
First, let's say the west included Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, BYU, Houston, SMU and Memphis. Think about the kind of basketball that division could play. Baseball and softball would be very competitive as well.
The eastern division would include Cincinnati, Connecticut, Temple, Navy, East Carolina, Tulane, South Florida and Central Florida. It would also have its fair share of intriguing and competitive matchups.
This would allow the new "All-American" conference to play its own regional regular season and play occasional cross-division foes, or only play the other division in playoffs or conference tournaments.
It seems like it would be a very good way to build a quality conference.
All-American, National Athletic Conference, Survivor 16—names aside, it could be good
When you look at the college conference landscape, this arrangement would make for a pretty decent league. It would be far superior to the Mountain West, C-USA, MAC or Sun Belt.
Not only that, but a conference like this would feature 14 of the top 55 television markets, at least eight solid football schools, 10 excellent basketball schools, intriguing matchups and would be large enough to bring some sort of stability.
If this were to happen it would be good for Boise State. Not only would they renew the Fresno State rivalry in football, but to bring all of its sports under the umbrella of one league would benefit the school greatly.
The football portion would be good, but so would the basketball competition. With the program that head basketball coach Leon Rice seems to be building in Boise, conference games against teams like Memphis, BYU, Fresno State, UNLV, Houston and San Diego would be ideal competition.
Not only that, but if the conference featured the top six teams from each division in the championship tournament, it could mean games against teams like UConn, Temple and Cincinnati.
Overall benefits from a conference like this for the Broncos
The benefits for the Broncos seem obvious. They would include much needed stability, regional and national rivalries, bringing all sports under one conference, better competition and television money than the Mountain West, a national footprint that may help recruiting, more media exposure and better bowl game partnerships.
It wouldn't be the Big East they signed up for, but it would be making the best of a bad situation. It is certainly better than going backward.
Will it happen? Stay tuned...