Big East Expansion: Nevada, TCU Change the College Football Landscape

Ed JackoCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2011

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 12:  Waymon James #32 of the TCU Horned Frogs runs the ball against the Boise State Broncos at Bronco Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

A few years from now, when you’re watching America Conference champion LSU play Continental Conference champion USC in the first true National Championship game, you’ll have Nevada and TCU to thank for the long awaited spectacle.

It is these two teams, the Wolf Pack and the Horned Frogs, who have set in motion a snowball on the hillside of college athletics that won’t stop until it completely wipes out the current misshapen mishmash of conferences, bowl games and BCS nonsense that we currently refer to as college football.

During the 2010 season, Boise State seemed destined to finally get a shot at a National Championship or at least consideration for inclusion in the big game.  That all came crashing down on the night of November 26 as the Broncos undefeated season became a memory floating up in to the chilled Nevada sky.

Boise’s reward for an 11-1 record and WAC championship was a trip to the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl to face Utah.  Nothing against the good people of Nevada or the kings of auto painting, but the Broncos had their sites set just a bit higher.

This year’s road to the Promised Land was detoured prematurely by a loss to TCU on November 5.  Another 11-1 record and a No. 7 national ranking surely deserve better than a return trip to Las Vegas, this time to face a 6-6 Arizona State team currently devoid of a head coach.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos smiles while standing behind a trophy as he celebrates the team's 26-3 victory over the Utah Utes in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2010 in La
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Boise State players, coaches and fans must be feeling a bit like Bill Murray because it sure feels like Groundhog Day all over again.

Enter the Big East.

The Broncos, still feeling the sting of being left out of the BCS mix despite another stellar season,  have thrown caution (and some might say good sense) to the wind and joined the Big East for football only.  It has become clear that excellent seasons, even perfect seasons, will not lead to a National Championship until Boise enters an AQ conference.

The Big East might want to send Nevada and TCU a fruit basket—or something along those lines.  It’s the least they could do for the two teams that saved their recently flagging conference.

The popular belief is that this is a temporary fix, a marriage of convenience.  Most analysts expect that the Big East will not survive given the far-flung destinations its football members will be traveling to, the lack of natural rivalries, and the vast differences in the academic reputations of the member schools.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

There will come a time when the Big East is looked upon as the blueprint from which other conferences will be formed and John Marinatto will be hailed as a visionary.

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 03: Drew Frey #26 of the Cincinnati Bearcats reaches for the Big East Championship trophy while celebrating with teammates after the Bearcats defeated the Connecticut Huskies 35-27 to claim their share of the 2011 Big East Champi
Tyler Barrick/Getty Images

Okay, maybe just the part about the Big East being a blueprint.

But isn’t this exactly what everyone has said was coming?  Mega conferences of 16 teams.  Conference footprints that spanned the country.

It’s just that nobody saw the Big East as the conference that would start the ball rolling.

Regardless of the messenger, the message is the same—college football is changing and there’s no turning back now.

There will eventually be four super conferences. There will be a playoff system.  And there will be a “true” National Championship game.

Thanks Nevada and TCU.