Posted by Tom Fornelli
With TCU leaving the Mountain West for the Big East in 2012, it gives the Big East conference an uneven number of teams in its football conference. Which is manageable, but it's no secret that having an even number of teams makes scheduling easier and that the Big East is looking to add a tenth member. One of the favorites has been Villanova, which is already a member of the Big East in basketball, and has undertaken a study to see if the football program is ready to move up to the FBS level.
The study won't be concluded until April, but if Villanova thinks that the Big East is going to sit around and wait on Nova's decision before it makes a move, then Villanova would be wrong. At least, that's what commissioner John Marinatto told ESPN.
"We're not waiting for Villanova," Marinatto said. "It's their institutional decision to make, and they have a process set up to make it. They've got to determine what's in their best interest, and we've got to determine what's in our best interest.
"If the right situation developed in between, we would move on it. That's a very real possibility. We're not going to make a decision or not make a decision based on Villanova's study."
Which is the right approach for the Big East to take. Personally, I think the Big East would be better looking elsewhere. The conference's reputation in football has already taken its fair share of shots from critics, as among the BCS conferences, its easy to see that the Big East is the weak link. The conference didn't have a single team finish the season ranked in either poll. So I'm not sure that adding another team to the league that hasn't even played on an FBS level would be best for the level of play.
In my opinion, UCF or East Carolina would be better choices. Neither is a college football powerhouse, but both of those programs are a lot further along than Villanova will be for a few seasons. Of course, it's not just quality of team that matters in college football, and Villanova is more attractive than either UCF or ECU due to the fact it's located in Philadelphia. Were the Big East to look towards starting its own network like the Big Ten or Pac-12, that Philadelphia market would come in handy.