The Big East is on the verge of extinction and nothing it does might save it at this point.

It is expected to offer invitations to six schools in the next day or so to offset the slew of defections it has suffered this year.

First it was Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, then it was TCU -- which never even played a game in the conference -- to the Big 12, and now the conference's top remaining football program, West Virginia, is reportedly joining TCU in the Big 12.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto is hoping that Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy, and SMU can somehow allow the conference to keep its BCS automatic qualifier status and survive going forward.

It might work, it might not.

But even with the addition of those six schools -- it's not guaranteed all will accept the invitation -- the Big East still needs to add another school to reach its goal of 12 football schools.

Temple has emerged as the likely favorite to become the Big East's 12th school, though the Philadelphia school faces some resistance from rival Villanova.

Temple would be a fine choice for the Big East, but it's time for the slow-moving conference to make a bold move and finally invite Memphis into its arms.

Out of all the possible schools out there that the Big East could conceivably pluck, Memphis has the best basketball program, which should be all that matters for a conference that prides itself as the best basketball conference in the country.

The conference has already lost powerful basketball programs Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC  -- a basketball-oriented move according to Rick Pitino -- and now could lose a strong West Virginia program to the Big 12.

If the Big East wants to continue to claim its dominance as the best basketball conference in the country, it needs to add a quality basketball program to offset inviting basketball dregs like Central Florida and Houston.

Why look anywhere else but Memphis?

Memphis flourished under former coach John Calipari -- the Tigers were a late Kansas three-pointer away from a national championship -- and are on a path to greatness with Josh Pastner.

Pastner, 34, has managed a 49-20 record at Memphis and looks prepared for a great season with all of the top-notch recruits joining the school. Pastner brought in a monster class in 2010 -- ranked the country's second best class according to Scout -- bringing in five-stars Joe Jackson and Will Barton into the mix.

Pastner's program is only going to continue to improve and would fit in well with the Big East's basketball rich tradition.

More importantly, it's ONLY Memphis' basketball tradition that should matter to the Big East.

Does Memphis have one of the absolute worst football programs in the country? Absolutely.

But it's not like Temple or any other available school boasts a Top 25 football program year after year.

Neither Temple nor Memphis would have any impact on the BCS' qualification statistics, thus the football component of the school should essentially be thrown out.

That thought might sound ludicrous considering that most of conference realignment has been about bulking up with football programs, but the Big East is already doing that with Boise State, Houston, SMU, and the others.

In addition to addressing the primary concern of bolstering its football programs, the Big East needs to remember that its basketball programs are the only relevant component it has right now. If the Big East is going to water down its best product with Central Florida, Houston, and SMU then it needs to bring in a quality team to offset the loss of prestige.

Sure Temple could help out, but it'd be foolish of the Big East to ignore a program that has a rabid fan base, some wealthy boosters backing the program -- FedEx's Fred Smith is the most notable -- and offers entry into a hotbed of basketball talent.

The Big East has been incredibly incompetent in its expansion efforts thus far so don't get your hopes up too high, Memphis fans.

But if the conference values its basketball as much as Marinatto claims it does, the only choice is for Big East to finally give Memphis a chance and offer it an invite.

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