Recent internet discussions of BYU's involvement with the Big East is starting to pick up steam. It seems the Cougars, while not overjoyed at the prospects of a football-only membership, would entertain the idea of all-sports inclusion. Geographically, BYU to the Big East makes little sense. However, a little creative thinking and perhaps reading between the lines can paint a very favorable picture.
Let me preface this idea by first stating, its speculation based on internet rumors and some knowledge of BCS rules. A limited knowledge, no doubt...well why beat around the bush? I'm talking about the now-defunct rule and common misconception that BCS AQ status is attached to the name of a conference. While once true, that rule has been amended to state that it is the collective presence of institutes within the conference that earn AQ status and not the name attached to that group. Look no further than the newly named Pac-12 for evidence. Along those same lines in order to maintain NCAA Basketball Tournament auto-bid status a group of schools must have at least a 5 year relationship which is a given for both sides in a split scenario.
What this means for the Big East is simple. They can essentially do what they want as long as the core of UConn, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, WVU, UC, Louisville and South Florida remain together. As long as that group stays together and the numbers mesh they are free to add who they want, where they want...and be called what they want.
That being said, rumors of a split with the basketball only schools continue to swirl. Drop them all, drop a few, anything is possible at this point. Here's what I'm thinking today (I come up with new scenarios as often as Michael Smith consumes chili dogs). Could the Big East name be forever dead? Football schools going their own way under a new name, same AQ and auto-bid status, similar market reach but solidified football power. For arguments sake, lets call this new conglomerate the National Athletic Conference. In football, a simple 16 team east/west division set up with a conference championship game spanning the nation and grabbing more TV sets than any conference in America. Basketball brings Paul Tagliabue's 20 team pod system to fruition.
National Athletic Conference (Football)
East - UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, UC, Louisville, WVU, USF
West - TCU, BYU, Boise St, Houston, Air Force, Memphis, SMU, Tulsa
National Athletic Conference (Basketball)
Northeast - UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Georgetown, St. John's
Mideast - WVU, Pitt, USF, Villanova, Notre Dame
Midwest - UC, Louisville, Memphis, TCU, Houston
Mountain - BYU, Boise St, Air Force, SMU, Tulsa