A Big Ten expansion, a Big East exodus?

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The Big Ten has said it has begun to explore expanding its conference - maybe adding one more program to make it an even 12. And with that, fans and officials of the Big East - which, as you know, lost Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC this decade, a move that former commissioner Mike Tranghese said nearly killed the Big East - began to worry.


I bring this up today, because Mick Cronin mentioned it Monday during media availability in preparation for Wednesday's game vs. UConn. Somebody asked him about the old Big East coaches of yore* - guys like John Thompson (the second) and Jim Boeheim and Phil Carnesecca - and how much those coaches meant to the Big East of today.


*Is it 'yore' or 'lore'?


Cronin responded - sort of - and then, unsolicited, brought up the Big Ten expansion and whether that conference will try to pilfer some teams away from the Big East.


"Let's hope the Big Ten isn't about to raid our conference," Cronin said. "We have the best conference. Right now, everybody looks around and sees that. When you have the Big Ten talking about that, there's a reason. They look at the Big East, and they see a great conference. They want what we have. I don't see a need for any teams in our conference to entertain any offers from them. What would you get there that you don't have in the Big East? We have all the media markets. We have the best exposure. We have the best conference, and in basketball, the deepest conference. We have the best TV package."


If any program in the Big East was approached about heading to the Big Ten, I think Rutgers would have to think about it. The Big Ten, I'm sure, would love to get into the New York City market, and Rutgers provides that. For Rutgers basketball, it probably would have a better chance to compete for a conference title in the Big Ten than in the Big East. Maybe in football as well.


Penn State football coach Joe Paterno also has said Pittsburgh and Syracuse could be considered as well (though, I'm not sure why either would want to leave the Big East). Perhaps, the Big Ten also would take another run at Notre Dame - which rejected an offer 10 years ago and which almost surely would do the same today.


Missouri, from the Big 12, also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.


Cronin, though, was adamant about keeping the current Big East conference intact.


"I wouldn't see why any team would consider abandoning ship for the Big Ten, with all due respect to the Big Ten," Cronin said. "I understand their issue. You look at what we have. Our eight football teams have the perfect schedule - it gives them flexibility in scheduling. We have the BCS bid. In basketball, we have the deepest, best conference in the country. We have the best ESPN deal. We have all the media markets east of the Mississippi. I don't see where you're going to get more exposure for your university. You would only hurt yourself by leaving our conference. But what do I know? I'm trying to figure out to how use a pick and roll and get a basket against UConn."

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