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With Rutgers leaving, the Big East loses one of its best chips, a football member in the New York media market. Losing Connecticut would also chip into the Big East's foothold in the New York metropolitan area.
The Big Apple is becoming Big Ten and ACC country, and that's a big problem for the Big East.
The league countered its eastern losses by building a west wing with Boise State and San Diego State, and dipping into Texas with SMU and Houston. Are all those schools still on board with joining next year?
The Big East was already looking west for a 14th member to balance out the conference when Navy joins in 2015. BYU and Air Force are the top targets. Now it might need both, and one more because the pickings are slim in the east.
Then the football members have to figure out if it's worth sharing whatever revenue they do get from the new TV deal with St. John's, Georgetown and the five other non-football members.
Currently with 10 members, and apparently happy that way, the Big 12 in many ways holds the key to whether conference realignment turns into a frenzy again.
Chuck Neinas, who spent about 10 months as the Big 12's interim commissioner and helped hold the conference together when Texas A&M and Missouri left, said there is still no indication from the league's leaders that they want to go back to 12 members.
"Let's face it, they're making as much money as for the (Sugar Bowl) as the SEC and as the Pac-12 and Big Ten are making for the Rose Bowl and they only have to share it with 10 teams," he said in a phone interview Monday.
The new deal the Big 12 and SEC just signed with ESPN for the rights to the Sugar Bowl will pay the conferences about $40 million apiece per year.
Plus, the Big 12's new television deal included a grant of rights that makes it all but impossible for its current members to leave for the next dozen years.
"My feeling is there is stability there. I'd be very surprised if they looked at expansion," Neinas said.
Commissioner Larry Scott tried to go really big a couple years ago, when he targeted Texas and half the Big 12.
The Pac-12 settled for Utah and Colorado, then passed at a shot to possibly grab Oklahoma and Oklahoma State without Texas, because the conference leaders weren't ready to share their newfound riches.
With the Big 12 teams off the table, the Pac-12 simply doesn't have a lot of schools to choose from even if it did want to expand.
"They're in a difficult spot geographically," Neinas said.
The SEC has shown no desire to add members in states where it already has members.
That precludes the SEC from adding the most desirable and logical programs, such as Florida State and Clemson. That also knocks Louisville and Georgia Tech off the list.
Until the SEC ends that "gentlemen's agreement," as Neinas called it, it's potential for growth is limited. Not that it really needs to grow as it works on starting its own network, a la the Big Ten.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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