Yes, we all know the Big East is one giant sinking ship.
Pitt and Syracuse jumped overboard, TCU did, too, without even actually playing in the conference. Now West Virginia is either a member of the Big 12, "pending formal approval," according to ESPN, or maybe it's already been accepted, or maybe it's in a "holding pattern."
Everyone is unsure at the moment.
Then there's Louisville who's lobbying to get into the Big 12 as well.
In other words, this is all a giant mess.
Here's my argument:
Super conferences could arrive as soon as 2014. Due to a contract between ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series, the cable network will broadcast the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls, plus the national championship game, through the 2013-14 season.
Once that deal is up, four super conferences made up of 16 teams each, might take over at that time and SMU does not want to be left out. If they don't jump to an automatic qualifying conference now (and there is no BCS clause that says a conference can be stripped of its AQ status, by the way), they will definitely not be a part of the national college football landscape in the future (unless there's some sort of at-large bid in the tournament, but they'd much rather not deal with that).
June Jones and Co. have worked too hard to get this program back on track since the Death Penalty to take a step backwards.
Here's what SMU accepting an invitation to the Big East could do:
It will bring the school more money, which can be used to expand Ford Stadium to say, 50,000. Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium holds 50,000 and TCU's Amon Carter Stadium will, too, once the renovations are completed. Those are the smallest stadiums in the Big 12.
That money could also be used to build an indoor facility and provide more academic resources to student-athletes, such as tutors. Basically, it would help SMU look like every other BCS program.
SMU could go to the Big East, run the table, crack the rankings and make a more prestigious bowl. At that point, lets say they've used the extra money allotted by joining a BCS conference to enhance their facilities, etc. Now it's super conference time and the Big 12 is looking for suitable programs to get them to 16. Having played in the Big East and done well for itself, SMU is extended an invitation.
This is why joining the Big East, though no question is now a depleted conference, is the right move for SMU.
Jones is in his fourth year at SMU. He's taken the Mustangs to back-to-back bowls, something that hasn't been done in 25 years, and the team only needs one more win to become bowl-eligible this season and we're just over halfway through the year.
Recruits from all over the country – California, Texas, Louisiana, Michigan – are committing to SMU instead of schools like Missouri, USC and Colorado. They say they like Dallas, the campus environment and how Jones has resurrected the program. Not to mention Jones has Adrian Klemm, a three-time Super Bowl winner and one of the nation's best recruiters, on his staff.
University President R. Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Steve Orsini only have SMU in their best interest and have reportedly been meeting with Big East and other AQ conference officials for quite some time now. The decision-makers are doing everything in their power to get SMU's foot in the door and keep it there.
That door, being the Big East, is how SMU can stay relevant and live a super conference future.
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