How many scenarios have we all heard? Three? Five? Ten? If you are a sane person, you have most likely lost count on the numerous possibilities regarding the eventual Big East and ACC changes.
It was fairly simple in the beginning. The ACC was going to simply add Miami, Boston College and Syracuse from the Big East, with the Big East adding at least Louisville, and most likely South Florida, Central Florida and Cincinnati.
Then things seemed to get even better for Cardinal fans. There was apparent talk of Louisville and Navy joining the Big East, along with Notre Dame committing to play a partial Big East schedule, which would seemingly secure a BCS bid long term.
More recently it started to appear that only Miami would be leaving the Big East for the ACC, with Syracuse and Boston College remaining. Louisville appeared to be the program that the Big East had prepared to officially approach to replace the Hurricanes.
Issues then began to surface for the ACC institutions. North Carolina and Duke have stated numerous times that they won't vote in favor of any expansion. The remaining Big East football schools filed suit against the ACC, Miami and Boston College. Due to pressure from the Governor, Virginia wouldn't support expansion unless Virginia Tech was included.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford recently approached the ACC Presidents about including Virginia Tech in its expansion. By doing so, it would gain Virginia's vote. However it would also bring the conference total to 13 programs, a number difficult to work with for scheduling purposes.
This proposal seemed to have all the answers and would secure the needed seven votes for expansion. However, if we've learned anything from this process so far it's that we shouldn't believe everything we read. Once again, the ACC Presidents failed to take a vote on expansion on Saturday. The inability to put the expansion to a vote translates that another current ACC member, besides North Carolina or Duke, doesn't like the idea of growing to 13.
Meanwhile, the Big East camp has expressed interest in adding a few teams to bolster itself. Louisville, South Florida, Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Marquette and Xavier are mentioned most often.
So what's next? The only certainty right now is that the current speculations will come to an end by the end of June.
During ITV's guest appearance of the Tony Cruise Show on 84WHAS last Wednesday, I stated that I believe that Louisville will soon be joining the Big East and that only Miami would be leaving for the ACC. I still strongly believe that in the end, Louisville and Miami will be the only two sure movers. It is a strong possibility that Central Florida and/or South Florida could be joining the Big East as well, but I believe that if the Big East does decide to further expand it's football membership at this time, that it will be South Florida only.
Below are the programs that I expect will make up the Big East football members following June 30th:
(* if Big East decides to expand to nine.)
Furthermore, I believe that the above Big East makeup would take place beginning with the 2004 football season. Additionally, I believe that the Big East will approach expansion once again following the 2004 season, where it will discuss adding Cincinnati, Central Florida and either East Carolina or Memphis, which would give the league the needed 12 teams for a conference championship game in 2006.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and I believe that U of L will reach the end and finally find itself on equal playing terms with other BCS members, as it has well deserved since day one.