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NCAA Conference Realignment: Pac-12 Expansion Could Precede Big East Expansion

In the event that Texas, Oklahoma and others defect from the Big XII for the Pac-12 in the coming days and weeks, it looks like the Big East will react and try to collect schools from the collapsed Big XII to solidify its position in NCAA conference realignment. Pete Thamel of the New York Times reports the Big East has opened a dialogue with Big XII school not flirting with the Pac-12.

A high-ranking college official did say Sunday that the Big East had reached out to multiple Big 12 universities and indicated, much as it did during the Texas-Pac-12 expansion talks last year, that the league would be interested in taking the universities if the Big 12 fell apart. The official said the Big East was not rooting for the demise of the Big 12, but opened up lines of communication in case it dissolved.

Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State would be the three most obvious potential Big East targets. While none are exactly football powerhouses, if all three came along, it would bring the number of Big East football members to 12 and allow the league to start a lucrative football championship game. In basketball, what is already a strong Big East field would become even stronger. Kansas is obviously a huge name in college hoops and both Kansas State and Missouri have fielded solid teams in recent years as well.

All this, and the move would also bring in Midwest TV markets including Kansas City and St. Louis to the Big East footprint, which also means more money for the conference.

If you're a Pitt or West Virginia fan, this scenario is obviously preferable to a potential jump to the Big XII. It ensures the basketball programs will continue to have a top conference in which to thrive and adds respectability to a football conference that's currently thought of as second-tier.

Stay tuned, though. As Thamel points out, every realignment scenario currently revolves around what Texas decides to do. Until the Longhorns make a move, talk of the Big East expanding or the Big XII poaching Pitt and West Virginia is just talk.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.