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Big East Armaggedon?

Posted Dec 13, 2012 by Joey Johnston

Updated Dec 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM

Not sure if you caught this, but last weekend’s words from USF president Judy Genshaft seem fitting.

During the introduction of new football coach Willie Taggart, Genshaft was asked about the Big East Conference.

“As of now, we’re really happy with the Big East,’’ Genshaft.

As of now.

Things seem to be changing by the day, maybe by the minute.

Thursday, reports bubbled up that the Big East’s basketball-centered Catholic schools—DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova—were making plans to withdraw from the conference and start a new league, perhaps attracting other like-minded basketball-first schools.

Where would that leave the Big East?

Where would that leave USF? The Bulls would be in the same all-sports boat as Connecticut and Cincinnati, which were jockeying for a spot in the ACC, and Temple, which just rejoined the Big East this school year.

Asked last month about Louisville leaving the Big East for the ACC, Bulls men’s basketball coach Stan Heath said, “We’ve still got a very, very good basketball league.’’ But if rumors of these latest defections are true, can that still be said?

The scorecard:

* Pittsburgh and Syracuse are off to the ACC after this season. West Virginia already has landed in the Big 12.

* Rutgers (Big Ten) and Louisville (ACC) are expected to play through next season. Notre Dame (ACC in all sports except football) has an uncertain exit date.

* The Big East is adding UCF, Memphis, Houston and SMU for all sports beginning next season, when Boise State and San Diego State join for football only. Tulane and East Carolina join in 2014. Navy will come aboard for football only in 2014.

Big East football has a two-division format, plans for a conference championship game and a schedule for 2013. But when Louisville and Rutgers depart—and if the basketball-first schools also take flight—it will be the Big East in name only. It will look like Conference USA 2.0.

All of this is happening as the Big East attempts to negotiate its new media rights deal. So the timing couldn’t be worse.

Genshaft admitted to surprise at some of the recent conference realignment, particularly the Big Ten’s addition of Rutgers and Maryland.

“Did you see that happening? We didn’t,’’ Genshaft told reporters. “My crystal ball isn’t that clear.’‘

The future of the Big East, meanwhile, appears clear as mud.

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