The Big East is “divided over whether to pursue Air Force or BYU as its 14th football member, while another option the conference is considering is creating a 16-team football league by adding Army, Air Force and BYU,” according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. Whether Air Force, BYU or Army ultimately join the Big East “could be determined by how much the Big East's new media rights deal, expected to be completed in the coming months, brings the league.” At least one Big East source “remains confident” about the possibility of bringing in more teams. The source said, "They'll crawl back once the TV deal is done." BYU, Air Force and Army are “being sought as football-only members.” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said that until Navy and a 14th member are on board, the league “would be split into two six-team divisions, most likely East and West.” The Big East will “hold a conference championship game next season at the site of the league's top team based on best record or highest BCS ranking.” When the Big East “grows to 14, league officials already have had discussions how to split the divisions.” Sources said that the “most popular 14-team model … would be ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ divisions that are non-geographic” (ESPN.com, 9/19).
A WIN-WIN SITUATION: ACC Commissioner John Swofford appeared on CBS Sports Network’s “The Tony Barnhart Show” on Monday and said Notre Dame joining the conference in all sports except football is a “win-win” for both sides because the school “fits so well with what the Atlantic Coast Conference is all about.” Swofford: “It's a great fit academically, it’s a great fit athletically and then beyond that when you look at the sports that Notre Dame is very good in, they equate extremely well with the ACC in basketball and the Olympic sports.” Swofford said it was not “any one thing” that ended up swaying the ACC from its stand that if it expanded, any new school would have to join in all sports. Swofford: “I think as much as anything it’s been the change in the landscape.” Swofford said of a timetable for when Notre Dame would begin ACC play, “We’ll be ready to accept them at any point that they can come, the sooner the better from our perspective” (“The Tony Barnhart Show,” CBS Sports Network, 9/18). In Boston, John Powers notes besides offering "upgraded competition in soccer, lacrosse, and baseball and no worse than a tradeoff in basketball, the ACC will be a comfortable football haven if the Irish ever opt out of independence." Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said, "We fully plan to maintain football independence. I don't see that changing. But if it ever did, the ACC is our home" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/20).
DOUBLE STANDARD? ESPN.com’s Gene Wojciechowski wrote Notre Dame and the ACC are “engaged to be engaged," and the two “eventually will tie the knot” in football. Still, there is going to be “stress and tension with the new alliance.” Wojciechowski: “You can't have one level of membership for one school and another level of membership for everyone else without some duress. But it beats what Notre Dame had in the Big East” (ESPN.com, 9/19).