The Big East's top expansion target appears to be Conference USA school Central Florida, according to reports.
The Big East has identified UCF as its top target and is expected to offer the school an invite in the next few days, according to The Boston Globe.
The Big East has already told Conference USA that it was interested in UCF as a prospective program and could move quickly. If UCF is offered it is widely believed that the Orlando area school would accept the invitation.
The news comes after TCU decided to join the Big 12 conference after already agreeing to join the Big East in 2012. The loss of TCU dropped the Big East to only six football playing schools, but the conference announced on Monday that it'd like to expand to 12 football schools.
Central Florida, which would likely be a full-fledged member of the conference, could help the Big East get closer to that goal, but it'd still have a long way to go. The conference is also looking at the service academies, a few Conference USA schools, and a few random schools - Boise State and Temple.
The Houston Chronicle reported on Monday that Houston -- a Conference USA school -- is absolutely in the mix, as are Air Force and SMU. The conference is also looking at Army, East Carolina, Navy, and Villanova, among others.
Big East commissioner said Monday that the conference anticipates taking action in the near future. Some have speculated that the Big East might have to wait to see what Missouri decides on doing before making its own expansion moves, but this recent news indicates the Big East will pursue UCF regardless of what Missouri does.
Currently Missouri is weighing the attractiveness of the SEC versus staying in the recently solidified Big 12. If Missouri was to jump to the SEC, it could enable the Big 12 to poach a few Big East schools -- Louisville and West Virginia -- to further hamper the Big East's efforts to hold on to its automatic qualifier status.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel wrote on Tuesday that it's doubtful that the conference will be able to hold on to its AQ status after already getting reprieves in the past. Boise State -- currently undefeated and on path for a BCS bid -- could help the conference keep its status, but most still label the Broncos as a longshot to join the Big East.
The far distance between Boise State and the rest of the Big East is one of the factors holding it back from major consideration for an invite, according to a report. Boise State is 2279.7 miles away from the remaining members of the Big East on average. Interestingly enough, Air Force is considered to be one of the Big East's top targets, but is on average more than 1500 miles away from other schools.