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Big East Expansion: Blogger Straw Poll, Part 1

Big East bloggers to Gary Patterson. Come in Coach Patterson. What will it take to acquire your school's athletic services? We are almost unanimous in our desire to bring you all in. Over.

A few days ago I reached out to bloggers from around the Big East, in both football and basketball schools, to get their opinions on conference expansion. I sent them a few questions, and I was expecting short answers so that I could tabulate the results and present them like the results of a straw poll.

Of course, bloggers gonna blog, and everyone who sent in a response had some other thoughts on all of the questions I posed to them. So instead, I'll publish everyone's answers to the first two questions after the jump. And as it turned out, that's what I would have had to do anyway, because counting up everyone's very different answers would have been almost pointless. Other than inviting TCU to the league, there's very little consensus here.

This isn't a thorough blog canvassing (in all I contacted about 30 people from every school except DePaul, who I couldn't figure out who to reach), but it's a pretty reasonable sample. 10 of the 16 schools represented here.

1. What schools do you WANT to be invited? (Within reason - assume Notre Dame and Boston College are not joining. Also assume there will not be more than four teams added.)

- "I would like to see TCU and Memphis get invited. I don't really care about the football part with Memphis, I want another top flight basketball program." (Scott, Bearcats Blog)

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- "I'm all about Central Florida. Perhaps the fantastic success of USF has gotten my expectations too high, but I really think UCF has everything in place to match USF's incredible rate of growth. They have the resources, the facilities and most importantly, the commitment to become a BCS level program. Orlando is a big school in a nice sized market and Florida is overflowing with quality recruits. I fail to see any downside here.

TCU is another good choice, but it is a distant #2 from UCF for me. TCU is great now, but is a small school in without the state resources that UConn had to expedite their BCS ambitions. Yes, they're upgrading their stadium and seem to be committed to their football program, but when Gary Patterson eventually gets lured away by a deep-pocketed program, what becomes of the Horned Frogs? Do they become a middle of the road also-ran in a poor conference? TCU brings instant credibility with them, but I worry about their ability to consistently compete." (Pitt Script Blog)

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- "I want TCU invited for sure. This whole exercise is about Football and TCU is the only top 10 or 15 program that the Big East can go out and get. Beyond that any of the three between Villanova, Central Florida or Houston. I don't care which of the three, but TCU is the must get." (Matt Opper, Down the Drive)

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- "I'd like 3 teams invited. That brings football to 11 and basketball to only 18 (wait for it, I CAN do math). Villanova makes the most sense. Doesn't increase basketball and adds football. My next two would be TCU and Central Florida. TCU gives you the Texas connection as well as a premier football program. UCF gives South Florida a natural rival and continues in-roads into talent-rich Florida." (Chris Lane, The Nova Blog)

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- "My hope is that Villanova moves into one of the available football slots and then the league grabs TCU, UCF and Houston. That would move the Big East to the 12th team required to host a lucrative conference title game and bring in three more desirable markets." (Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks)

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- "TCU and Villanova." (Sean Keeley, Troy Nunes Is an Absolute Magician)

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- "Memphis and Temple." (Hire Esherick? - I'm not exactly sure which one of those guys is which, Casual Hoya)

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- "I think the Big East should split along football lines and add Temple and TCU. If going to 12 teams makes financial sense, then add Houston and UCF too. The current setup is unwieldy and sclerotic." (On the Banks)

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- "Obviously no team presently in a BCS conference is jumping to the Big East. So that leaves call-ups from 1-AA, MAC, C-USA and MWC. I get depressed just typing that. I should stipulate that I am against football-only members. Not a smart plan and does nothing for stability. So that rules out Navy and Army. So, in no particular order, I would like to see the Big East have Villanova, TCU, and UCF join.

I'm sort of interested in Houston, but they have a horrible history of fan support that doesn't seem likely to change despite recent activity. That makes me hesitant to support them, even if it makes sense to add another Texas school to keep TCU from being isolated. I may be in the minority, but I really don't have a problem with Villanova going 1-A. I question whether it is the wise move for them, but for the football schools this is a big deal because it creates a shift in voting in the Big East among member programs firmly to the football side. That's a long-term benefit that shouldn't be overlooked. TCU is the obvious choice at this point because of their success and both sides need each other. The geography bothers me a little. But my main issues or things that give me pause are that TCU is actually smaller in student size than Villanova. They may be in Dallas and have the hot hand at the moment, but that doesn't deliver the DFW market anymore than Rutgers delivers NYC.

"UCF is dying to get into the Big East. And has for some time. There's obvious potential, yet I can't shake the "meh" factor to them." (Chas Rich, Pitt Blather)

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- "Personally, I believe in keeping things actually "eastern", and I think directional schools never sound very impressive. I think Villanova would be nice, I suppose. But how about UMass as well? Eastern, state school, room for growth, solid FCS program.

"So maybe Marshall and Buffalo too. There just isn't that much great eastern football out there, and the idea of moving into Texas just seems silly. But Dallas has a big market, and TCU has an excellent team, so I understand. (Why not Southern Methodist, decision-makers? If you want southerners and Christians, why not them? They'd take your football-only demands.)

"I just want Boston College back." (Pico Dulce, The East Coast Bias)

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"TCU, Tulsa, UCF, Temple, Houston - although having TCU and Houston in the same league isn't likely, I don't think. TCU's AD flat out blocked a bid from Houston to join the MWC." (WVUIE97, The Smoking Musket)

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"The best scenario, I think, is to invite Texas Christian as football-only and elevate Villanova as an FBS-playing member. Now, Villanova is going to take lumps all over the place for, like, eternity and if I'm Texas Christian I demand full membership, but this scenario is the best way to a) not shit all over hoops; b) not unnecessarily increase travel for all sports, Olympic and otherwise; and c) somehow bolster the football side of things.

"Any other scenario -- inviting Houston, inviting Central Florida, etc. -- merely dumps on non-football interests and, I think, doesn't emphatically increase the strength of the football side (since joining Conference USA, Central Florida is all of 34-30 playing a blase schedule in a fertile recruiting area; Houston would be fun to watch and has solid results over the last five years, but you can't take a flyer on the Cougars to spite the rest of the league's function when Villanova is available).

"Memphis should only merit consideration if the league is hoping to cut down on its shipping costs. Christ, what a fucking shitshow it'd be to have those knuckleheads in the league.

"Now, if we're getting batshit insane, you invite all those Big XII teams that were initially left out in the cold a few months ago, become a national league, split from the basketball-onlies, and start printing money. But this, like my unicorn wrangling business, will never happen in anything that remotely resembles reality." (Hoya Suxa)

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"TCU and Houston. Just the easiest decision. Both teams open up a new market and new recruiting ground for the northern schools. Houston does bring a lot basketball wise based on their history, and TCU's baseball team is becoming a powerhouse." (Ken DeCelles, Voodoo Five)

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2. Who do you THINK will be invited?

- "Villanova, TCU and when TCU rejects the BE, Houston. I think you said Houston and I'm all aboard." (Scott, Bearcats Blog)

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"If Villanova makes the jump, I predict they will be the one and only team to come aboard, unless TCU accepts a football-only invite. Villanova seems to be what the leadership in Providence wants - except for slightly changing the balance of power from 8-8 football to basketball to 9-7. I don't think Villanova will do it - I just don't see where they get the money and the logistics are terrible - but if they can figure it out, they're in.

"Short of Villanova, I'd expect UCF and TCU." (Pitt Script Blog)

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"TCU gets an invite and Villanova has a standing offer. If they both say yes it stops there IMO." (Matt Opper, Down the Drive)

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"I would say that Villanova and TCU are definitely getting asked. After that Temple and UCF are most likely." (Chris Lane, The Nova Blog)

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"I think in the short term, just TCU pending a decision from Villanova. If other conferences push the expansion button the process will accelerate." (Tim Blair, Cracked Sidewalks)

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"TCU and UCF." (Sean Keeley, Troy Nunes Is an Absolute Magician)

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"TCU and East Carolina." (Either Hire Esherick or Casual Hoya, whichever)

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"Villanova, because in the Big East the balance of power is held by basketball-only schools. They will go for the path of least resistance as opposed to making the best decisions for the future of BE football. Football revenue trumps basketball even in the Big East, and they don't care, they just want to protect their interests at the expense of the greater good. Villanova would be a disaster because they'd likely need a financial subsidy from the rest of the conference to upgrade to I-A, and do not have a workable stadium situation. That's a foolish way to try get a foothold into Philadelphia. The larger public university Temple is a better choice by any metric." (On the Banks)

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"Villanova and TCU." (Chas Rich, Pitt Blather)

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"TCU and Villanova. If they can figure out how to keep TCU out of the basketball." (Pico Dulce, The East Coast Bias)

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"TCU and Nova, with Temple being the fallback if one of those says no...the Big East has shown a propensity to being frightenly behind the times and without imagination." (WVUIE97, The Smoking Musket)

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"The first two on the board have to be Texas Christian and Villanova. Those will receive hard invitiations, although I think Texas Christian's will initially be as a football-only. If Texas Christian balks at that, the Big East either says "fuck you" and moves to Houston and Central Florida for football-only bids or it ups Texas Christian's bid to full-membership and the league moves to Houston, Central Florida, and OH MY GOD SERIOUSLY MEMPHIS?!? to make the Voltron 20-team Big East that will invariably shit all over itself in two years." (Hoya Suxa)

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"TCU and UCF. I think Nova balks at the move up, and UCF is right there to pick up the invite. UCF's facilities have improved to high-major quality, and their basketball team is improving. Might as well pick both of these teams up while they are at the top." (Ken DeCelles, Voodoo Five)

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Here are the other three questions to get you thinking... our blogger answers will follow on either Friday or Monday:

3. Is expansion going to make a long-term difference in the future of the league?

4. Will the Big East still be intact as a football league in 2015?

5. Do you support removing members to keep the league manageable? If so, who?

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