The Staff Discusses Big East Expansion Amongst Themselves

We'll all be happy to have you, TCU. After that, it gets a bit murky.

From: Ken DeCelles
Subject: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 12:00:06 PM EDT
To: Voodoo 5, Toro Grande

So who's excited about making the trip to Villanova every other year for football in a 19K seat soccer stadium? I can already see you looking at flights Toro. I'm thrilled that Marinatto is being proactive about this, and if we take the best team from the conference that tries to boast itself as better than the Big East, even better.

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From: Voodoo 5
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 12:17:06 PM EDT
To: Ken DeCelles, Toro Grande

I really think TCU makes the move if they're offered. Maybe even if all they get is a football-only invite (which as Frank the Tank pointed out in his FAQ, means they have to store their other sports in a league like the Missouri Valley Conference because they don't sponsor FBS football). It's not the top of the league that's the problem in the Mountain West -- it's the bottom. New Mexico, UNLV, Colorado State, and normally Wyoming have been a gigantic drag on the elite teams like TCU and Utah. It kills their strength of schedule, and it kills the MWC's aspirations of becoming an auto-bid conference. Replacing Utah with Boise State doesn't change that.

Everyone gets all up in arms about the Big East not having any marquee teams this year. And that's true, but on the flip side, none of the teams are just flat-out horrible. The Mountain West has two teams in the top 5 this week, and the Big East has no ranked teams, yet the Big East is still ahead of the Mountain West in the Sagarin conference rankings. Our worst-case scenario is still better than their best-case scenario. That's why TCU joins up if they're offered.

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From: Ken DeCelles
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 12:39:49 PM EDT
To: Voodoo 5, Toro Grande

So what about Villanova? They have no real stadium to use unless they head out to Chester to play at the Philadelphia Union's PPL Park which only seats 18,500. Do you think they are the 10th team while UCF or Houston are chomping at the bit?

From: Voodoo 5
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 1:41:30 PM EDT
To: Ken DeCelles, Toro Grande

That's why I don't want Villanova. They're not going to be competitive on or off the field for a long time. This isn't a UConn situation -- there was a lot more support behind them (both people and money) when they moved up and joined the league. And as Toro has said, Philly flat-out doesn't care about college football.

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From: Ken DeCelles
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 2:40:26 PM EDT
To: Voodoo 5, Toro Grande

So that leaves us with Houston and UCF. Kind of makes their game this week sort of a play-in if it all works out. Both are doing very well in football this season, and each school is becoming respectable in basketball. Either school lines up as a travel partner with another (TCU and Houston, USF and UCF) which is huge for the Olympic sports. Am I wrong for liking UCF over the Cougars? They have spent a lot of time building up their facilities to get to this point, and it looks like it's right place, right time for the Knights.

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From: Voodoo 5
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 3:43:56 PM EDT
To: Ken DeCelles, Toro Grande

What, no Memphis? Anyone?

Yeah, it's probably down to those two, because even though East Carolina ought to be in the discussion, their market is so small that no one wants to bring them in. That's a travesty, for what it's worth.

Has there ever been a game like this that you can remember? I mentioned the 2003 USF-Louisville game on Twitter earlier, but even then the ramifications of winning that game weren't made clear until after the fact. Everyone's going to know what's at stake in advance here.

(Houston should really pull out all the stops tomorrow, right? Fill that stadium at all costs, maybe get some temporary seating in there, get the students super-motivated and fired up for the national TV audience... and oh yeah, winning the game would help too.)

I figured this was a good time to re-evaluate my UCF position like I re-evaluated my Greg Schiano position before the last football game... but that's a whole other post. Anyway, I wonder what the other schools would take into consideration if their two choices are UCF or Houston. Travel partners are a wash, because you either have USF or TCU as a travel orphan. The recruiting territory isn't as simple as everyone thinks. UCF doesn't really deliver any new recruiting territory because Orlando is only, like, an hour away from Tampa, and besides, I think all eight teams in the league have at least a toehold in Florida. Houston might be a different case. It's four hours from Fort Worth, and it gives you a gateway into Louisiana, which is a pretty fertile recruiting area in its own right. I'm not sure if one of the two Texas teams gives you the whole state. Maybe you need both?

Also I don't think Houston has ever antagonized any current Big East members over things like football scheduling. If that is any factor, then West Virginia and Pittsburgh will have some issues with UCF.

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From: Ken DeCelles
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 5:14:15 PM EDT
To: Voodoo 5, Toro Grande

As much as I would like the $10 million check from FedEx, there is no way we are bringing Memphis in. A lot of FCS teams would trounce them in football, and even though they had a great run with Calipari in basketball, I think they will start to slowly trend downwards.

But this has to be Houston's audition to the Big East on Friday. If there are still empty seats, I'm sure the athletic department is going to every school in the area handing out tickets for the game. Anything to get that stadium packed.

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From: Toro Grande
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 5:52:10 PM EDT
To: Ken DeCelles, Voodoo 5

First of all, I think the idea that winning tomorrow night's game has extra implications as to who gets invited is borderline preposterous. There is so much that goes into an expansion decision, and evaluations are made over an incredibly wide range of reasons. TV markets, geography, accessibility to major airports (seriously), academic quality of the institution, facilities, size of budget and endowment, etc. One night on the field is hardly a make or break for either institution. Having said that... a full house that's fired up to be there on national TV certainly wouldn't hurt.

In regards to Villanova, I've gone down this road before, and I think everything I covered before still stands. I don't think PPL Park is a viable long-term solution. If it's for a season or two, fine, but anything beyond that isn't sustainable. You can't win in the Big East with only 20,000 butts in seats for your biggest games. My cousin is a cop in Chester, where PPL is located, and they just came off a months-long State of Emergency. Villanova is in one of the wealthiest communities in America, and Main Line Philly has no desire to be tailgating in that area. They need to either split Lincoln Financial Field with Temple, or come to an arrangement with the Phillies for Citizens Bank Park. If they want it, and they can get buyin from all their stakeholders, I think we have to give them first crack. They're the reigning champions in the FCS, so if this brings us one step closer to promotion and relegation in collegiate athletics like I've wanted forever, all the better.

TCU makes sense in every way but geographically. And as we're finding, geography is becoming less and less of an issue for conferences looking to make their footprint as wide as possible for TV purposes. So I'm fine with adding them as well. Not only competitive in football, but across all sports as well.

As to our neighbors to the east, this may be years of contempt combined with pure mockery, but I say no way. They've done the facilities upgrades, but they still haven't shown the requisite competitiveness in any sport. And don't tell me they need a BCS membership to do so. Ask Boise, TCU, or Utah if that's been a hindrance.  Fans call them UCiF for a reason: If only this had happened, if only THAT had happened. At some point, you have to be accountable for the decisions that have been made. What we get from Oviedo is a series of excuses and near misses. I think that's partially the administration and athletics leadership, partially the lack of funding (remember they bonded their lives away for those facilities), and partially the fact that as an institution, they haven't ever shown any consistent success in anything.

During the next round of conference expansion, I say let's consider them again.  I'm not moving for a permanent ban from BCS status (though, honestly, that would be wonderful and the schadenfreude would taste better than any medium rare Bern's chateaubriand ever). But point to ANY sustained success they've ever had in anything. Our league needs consistently good teams, not mediocre ones. And I'm not saying USF or anyone in the league is good right now. Quite frankly, with the exception of WVU under RichRod, no one in the Big East has truly stood out over the last 10 years. What we need to add, in addition to TV markets, is quality. Someone with the potential to be a consistent winner in out-of-conference games against BCS teams. I'm willing to go through a few years of growing pains with Villanova because they'll have gobs and oodles of money at their disposal to make it work. But to me UCF has had chance after chance, and failed repeatedly.

As an aside; the president of the University of Houston, Renu Khator, is the former provost of USF. Multiple former USF people followed her and are administrators at UH. I don't think it's outrageous to assume President Genshaft and Doug Woolard will be lobbying hard for UH instead of UCF.

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From: Voodoo 5
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 6:11:18 PM EDT
To: Toro Grande, Ken DeCelles

Can we really make the "UCF hasn't had consistent success" argument? I don't remember our consistent successes before joining the Big East, Olympic sports aside (which honestly don't count very much in this debate).

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From: Toro Grande
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 7:05:07 PM EDT
To: Voodoo 5, Ken DeCelles

Sadly Olympic sports don't count, you're right. But remember, the Knights started football in 1979, a full 18 years before the Bulls. And we beat them to a bowl game. (note from Voodoo: actually each team's first bowl game was in 2005.) They were the ones begging to play US to bolster their credibility.

And if you can find anything in here that means they're a good candidate to be a consistently winning program, point it out to me, because I don't see it. In fact it reads like it was written by their message board posters. Examples:

"Although winless in its first three games (a one-point overtime loss at Ole Miss, a two-point loss at South Carolina and a two-touchdown loss at Nebraska, after leading 17-14 at the half) UCF has the national media touting it as the best 0-3 team in the country." THIS IS A POINT OF PRIDE!!

"UCF makes its second national television appearance of the year when it squares off with Marshall in Huntington, W.Va. UCF again comes close, but falls 26-21. The Golden Knights turned the ball over twice on drives late in the fourth quarter."UCiF we hadn't turned it over...

Just read it. It's like reading a history of L.A. Clippers basketball.

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From: Ken DeCelles
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 7:54:25 PM EDT
To: Toro Grande, Voodoo 5

All right, I'm sold. TCU and Nova/Houston it is.

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From: Voodoo 5
Subject: Re: Big East Expansion
Date: November 4, 2010 8:01:29 PM EDT
To: Ken DeCelles, Toro Grande

I'm not morally opposed to UCF, even though I have issues with them... but I want TCU and Houston. And we'll probably end up with TCU and Villanova thanks to the Providence Mafia and their basketball-school consiglieres.

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