08/03/2010 12:51 PM ET
Big East considered becoming even bigger
Had Big 12 collapsed, four teams could have realigned
By Adam Zagoria / SNY.tv
If Frank Martin's Kansas State and three other Big 12 teams had joined the Big East, the conference would have had 20 basketball schools. (AP)

NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Big East explored the possibility of adding four Big 12 teams in the event the Big 12 disbanded in June, a Big East source said.

The Big East would have targeted Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri. Those schools would have swelled its ranks to 12 football teams and 20 basketball programs.

"For the 24 hours where it looked like they were leaving, then this idea had legs," the source said Tuesday at Big East football media day.

"I think all other conferences had, in the event that the whole Texas move to the Pac-10 occurred, plans in place as to what we were doing and planning that way," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said. "I think all of the conferences were prepared to react accordingly."

In June, six Big 12 teams -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado -- appeared poised to join the Pac-10. Texas A&M's flight to the SEC was also an option.

Left out would have been Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska and Missouri.

Bracing to defend itself while simultaneously expanding into the biggest of mega-conferences, the Big East could have added four Big 12 teams.

"There were discussions about exploring this if it turned out that those schools were left behind," the source said.

The source conceded that he wasn't certain the Big 12 teams would have jumped ship.

"I don't know how interested the Big 12 schools would have been, though I'm sure they would have seriously considered it," the source said. "They were still more focused on spending time saving the Big 12 than planning any alternatives that weekend."

Over the next two years, Colorado ended up choosing to depart for the Pac-10 and Nebraska chose to leave for the Big Ten.

But in mid-June Texas said it was staying in the Big 12, and Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State quickly followed suit.

Thus ended the Big East's need to expand westward.

"It happened and went away so quickly because it all happened over a weekend to where it looked like they were going and then they didn't go," the source said.

Marinatto said he believes everyone in college athletics breathed was relieved.

"When the whole thing was over, those 10 days, we breathed a sigh of relief that it ended where it ended," he said. "Most of us didn't want to have that kind of change. We didn't think it was healthy for collegiate athletics as a group in moving forward."

Even though conference realignment has appeared to stabilize, Big East rumors persist.

Early this week, an e-mail was sent to various Big East media members saying that Memphis would be announced as the league's newest team during Tuesday's media day.

Central Florida has also been mentioned as a possible target of expansion.

Several Big East football coaches, including UConn's Randy Edsall, have come out publicly in favor of adding a ninth football team to balance out the schedule.

Currently, teams play a seven-game, unbalanced schedule. Some teams play four home games and three away, while others play three home and four on the road.

Marinatto told the league's football coaches not to discuss potential expansion at Tuesday's media day, but he did address the topic.

"If it's to our advantage to do something like that, everything's on the table," he said.

"We decided that we want to look at and study everything. And we try and do things in a quiet way behind the scenes."

Adam Zagoria is a regular contributor to SNY.tv. Read his blog at ZagsBlog.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AdamZagoria.
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