<
>

Big East's expansion options

UPDATE: Two programs are the primary targets for the Big East Conference's next round of expansion. Tulsa is reportedly the Big East's primary target as college football's wheel of realignment roulette continues to spin. The Big East also discussed UMass as a possibility to regain some presence in the state of Massachusetts after it previously lost Boston College.

"It’s likely that UMass, if given that opportunity, would make the jump," Matt Vautour of Daily Hampshire Gazette wrote. "The prospect of being conference rivals with Connecticut and Temple, as well as having a likely more lucrative television deal, would be too good not to chase, despite knowing that the Huskies would jump ship at the first opportunity."

UMass will have to wait and see how everything plays out in the coming months. Tulsa would give the Big East 12 teams by 2015 (when Navy becomes a member). The Big East may decide to expand further into a 14-team league. Or UMass may be next in line if UConn or Cincinnati were to leave the league.

---

UPDATE: The Big East Conference publicly admitted it's searching for a 12th member. Tulsa is believed to be the leader. With the possible addition of the Golden Hurricane, the Big East has set aside its aspirations of becoming a national brand.

"...(Big East commissioner Mike) Aresco told reporters that the conference would not move west of Texas," Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Seninely relayed.

The statement finally puts the nail in the coffin regarding any discussion of possible alliance with BYU whom the league has courted for over a year.

If Tulsa doesn't accept a membership -- which is unlikely -- UMass and Southern Miss will be next in line.

---

UPDATE: It's a race to land Tulsa as the next addition to either the Big East or Mountain West Conference. And the Golden Hurricane already appears likely to join one of the leagues.

"The university's switch from Conference USA membership to Big East Conference membership seems to have graduated from a possibility to a likelihood," Bill Haisten of the Tulsa World reported.

"Furthermore, the Mountain West Conference scenario still has a pulse. If that league decides to expand beyond 12 schools, Tulsa is believed to believe on the Mountain West radar. However, by the time Mountain West officials make that determination, TU might already have committed to a Big East switch. "

It simply comes down to an offer, particularly from the Big East.

"If an invitation is extended, expect TU to accept immediately," Haisten wrote.