Big East expansion plans focus heavily on C-USA

Quick review of the current conference expansion landscape.

The Big East Conference's plan for expansion has become clear and its apparent that five Conference USA schools figure heavily into those plans.

Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette and DePaul all have had their Big East tickets punched and have been ready to go for a while now. Now South Florida also apparently will get a full ride in the newly expanded BCS league and the Bulls have Boston College to thank.

On Wednesday, the St. Petersburgh Times reported that Big East Athletic Directors will recommend to the president's of the Big East that USF be extended full inclusion into the Big East. Big East presidents are expected to extend memberships to the five C-USA members on November 4, at a scheduled meeting in New York.

Unless something dramatically unexpected occurs during the next week, U of L's new league will include Syracuse, Connecticut, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, South Florida and Cincinnati for football and Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John's, Notre Dame, Providence, Marquette, DePaul and Villanova in hoops.

Meanwhile in Conference USA, commissioner Britton Banowsky lined up replacements for Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati last week and it's become clear that C-USA has turned to the Southwest for stability.

Late last week, SMU, Rice and Tulsa, were widely reported to have been extended invitations to join C-USA and each accepted in quick order, guaranteeing replacements for the Cards, Bulls and Bearcats.

Back in the Big East, many close to the situation still expect a ninth football-only member will be sought to make conference scheduling more balanced.

Navy, Army, Temple, and Central Florida have been mentioned as possible candidates for the ninth spot in Big East football. This addition is not expected to occur when Big East officials meet November 4.

While we know the road map Big East expansion plans, several questions remain.

How will the conference's divisional lines be drawn? What will Notre Dame's role be? When will the new members begin Big East competition? And who will become the ninth football-only member?

While these aren't the only questions remaining about Louisville's future league, the answers should be revealed in short order.

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