The Big Ten Conference seems hellbent on creating chaos among college football conferences whether it’s good for the game or not. Not that the macho mentalities care anything about what happens to anyone else in this “Me First” generation of collegiate athletics.
The buzz is that the Big Ten has its eyes on Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Rutgers as expansion candidates, none of which mesh with the image of existing members. But it seems more fashionable and easier to go after Big East schools rather than challenge older, more stable conferences, television or not.
University of Louisville fans, reenergized with a new coach and an expanded stadium, keep waiting on Big East officials to come up with some ideas on the future. So far, however, conference officials have kept their visions to themselves.
Football must be first and foremost among the priorities for U of L in future conference considerations, whether be in the Big East or whatever is left over if a split occurs. It is football, after all, that is drives college athletics, forcing the realignments.
Definitely go after these programs:
- East Carolina — Great football tradition in a beautiful stadium that seats 43,000 and is currently being expanded to 50,000.Â ECU fans are fanatical about the football program, last season averaging close to 42,000 per game. Their fans travel well, too, and Louisville is within a reasonable driving distance.
- Central Florida — Lots of football talent to draw from in a football-crazy state. UCF averaged 38,078 per game last season in a 45,000-seat stadium. The stadium was designed to expand to 65,000 seats. The school is already thinking about adding 10,000 seats within the next decade. Membership in the Big East would hasten the expansion. A natural rivalry with South Florida.
- Memphis — A decades-old rivalry for U of L, and always will be. Memphis loves its university. All they need is a decent conference to begin investing in improvements in its football facilities. Memphis was competitive with Louisville, even during the Bobby Petrino years, and deserves an opportunity to join the BCS club.
The new alignment would still need at least one more school to remedy the conference football scheduling program, and that’s where it gets tough. Assuming geographical proximity and travel are not problematic, the choice would come from one these schools:
- TCU — Texas Christian is a solid football school, attracting 38,100 fans per game last season in a 46,000-seat stadium. They have exceeded 50,000 on a couple of occasions.
- Southern Mississippi — Another good football school and a good rivalry for the University of Louisville. Southern Miss averaged 30,100 per game last season. Put them in a BCS setting, and the program averages at least 10,000 to 15,000 per game.
None of these candidates fit the traditional power house profiles but they are respectable programs deserving of opportunities to improve their stature in the world of college football.