The Big East suffered another blow on Thursday when the Big 12 officially extended an invite to TCU, which the Texas school is expected to accept.
TCU was expected to officially join the conference in 2012 and help add some stability to a conference that is set to lose Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC and possibly lose its automatic qualifier BCS bid.
With TCU likely on the move to the Big 12 -- its fifth conference since 1995 -- the Big East is left with only six football playing schools and could possibly lose Louisville and West Virginia to other expansion efforts.
The Big East has called for an emergency expansion conference call for Friday morning, according to The New York Times, and will take a look at possible targets to add to the troubled conference.
Who might those targets be?
Air Force, Central Florida, East Carolina, and Navy, according to reports and information coming out of the league's Providence office.
The league identified Air Force and Navy last week as its top targets, but TCU's defection to the Big 12 could damper the chances of the two service academies joining the unstable Big East. Both schools have good situations going with their football programs and might be unlikely to forgo that stability to join a conference that is losing members left and right.
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk told The Washington Post on Thursday that the Big East called the school about TCU's likely departure to the Big 12 and indicated that Navy was less than enthused with joining the current crop of schools in the conference.
As I said from the beginning, our position remains comfortable as an independent, Gladchuk said. We've had discussions with the Big East about possible membership. There is no timetable or sense of urgency on our part. We asked the Big East to stabilize. Obviously this is a step back for them.
The Big East could add schools like East Carolina, Central Florida, and even Temple to help stabilize the conference, but none of those schools will help improve the conference's less than sterling football reputation. The conference has its automatic qualifier bid through 2014, but might lose it if it's unable to add some quality football programs.
All of those schools would jump at an invite in a heartbeat, but up to this point the Big East remained hesitant to extending membership to any of the schools. That might be changing as the schools represent the only viable options right now for the conference.
The conference is expected to put together a strategy going forward, but these recent calls and meetings haven't been particularly successful for the conference.
On Sunday the conference met in Washington, D.C. and pledged allegiance to the conference and to help pursue aggressive expansion. Just days later TCU is heading out the door and the conference is in an even more desperate position that it could have ever imagined.
The conference is unlikely to attract any big-name schools because the Big East is so shaky and unstable. What could end up happening is the Big East basketball schools break away from the football schools -- while keeping the Big East name -- and the football schools are simply left to fend for themselves.
More will be known after the Big East's conference call, but it's clear that the conference is in serious peril.
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