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Big East buildup may include Boise State

By Mark Blaudschun
Globe Staff / October 10, 2011

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The Big East is apparently ready to make one final push to keep its embattled football league together.

With the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the Atlantic Coast Conference; with TCU, which had been scheduled to join the Big East next season as a full member instead moving to the Big 12; and with Louisville apparently ready to join the Horned Frogs in the Big 12, the Big East’s options seem limited.

But that may change. According to sources in the Big East, the conference is looking at a plan in which Boise State, Navy, and Air Force would be invited into the league as members in football only, as well as Temple and Central Florida as members in all sports.

The possibility of adding Villanova as the 12th team in football also is being discussed. If Louisville chooses to stay in the Big East, it would have 12 football members and could begin a conference championship game, which would increase the value of any television contract.

Boise State, which has become a perennial Top 5 team the past several years, is the key.

If the Broncos, who would explore the possibility of joining another conference such as the Missouri Valley or the Western Athletic Conference in all other sports, came to the Big East, they would bring much needed Bowl Championship Series points, which are necessary for the Big East to maintain its automatic BCS berth.

The key for Boise State and for Air Force would be to find a place for the other sports besides football, and that could be the WAC.

“We’ve had discussions with Air Force about joining in all sports but football,’’ said WAC commissioner Karl Benson yesterday. “And we would certainly be willing to talk to Boise State about the same arrangement.’’

A source in the Big East told the Newark-Star Ledger that the inclusion of Boise State “had been discussed.’’

If the Big East could secure Boise State, Navy, and Air Force in football only and add Temple and UCF in all sports it would be set in football. In basketball, Temple and UCF would put the Big East back to 16 teams and elevate the conference’s profile, which was damaged by the departure of Syracuse and Pitt.

Mark Blaudschun can be reached at blaudschun@globe.com.