The Big East is finally set to go forward with its expansion plans and add Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, SMU and San Diego State, according to a report.
CBS Sports first reported on Tuesday that the Big East would officially announce on Wednesday that the conference will add those five schools in 2013. Boise State and San Diego State will join as football-only members, while the other three schools will join for all sports.
The addition of those five schools ups the Big East to 10 football-playing schools, with Air Force and Navy still possibilities as football-only members. Navy is expected to join the Big East next week, while Air Force is still debating joining the conference, according to reports. If Air Force turns the conference down, it is believed that the Big East will target Temple as its 12th member.
The addition of the five schools helps offset all of the defections the conference has suffered over the past year. The Big East lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC in September before eventually losing TCU -- which never even played a conference game -- and West Virginia to the Big 12. The loss of the four schools led many to label the conference as dead, but the five football-playing schools should add some much needed stability.
Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia all must honor a 27-month wait period before joining their new conferences, but West Virginia has maintained that it will be in the Big East for the 2012 season. Big East commissioner John Marinatto has been adamant about no school leaving early, but that hasn't stopped West Virginia's athletic director, Oliver Luck, from telling anyone that who will listen that his school won't be in the Big East next year.
We're planning on all sports spending the 2012-13 academic year in the Big 12, Luck said. The Big 12 folks haven't given us a [deadline] date. We're 100 percent focused on competing in the Big 12 and with this season closing, have time to prepare for next year.
Whether West Virginia stays for the 27-month wait period or not, the biggest issue going forward for the conference is whether it can hold onto its automatic BCS qualifier bid. The BCS AQ bid generates a significant amount of money for the conference each year and the conference could cease to exist should it lose it.
The conference has repeatedly said that its internal calculations indicate that it will be able to keep its status, but others have indicated some doubt.
Still, the appeal of an automatic BCS bid likely played a major role in Boise State's decision to join the conference. After missing a BCS bowl for two consecutive seasons, despite finishing with only one loss each time, it'd make sense to join a conference that could finally ensure a BCS bowl bid.