Of all the positions which are up for grabs for the 2013 Midshipmen it is easy to argue that the…
Old Big East eyeing Army and Air Force?
National sports writer Mark Blaudschun recently wrote in his column that the old Big East is savoring over Army and Air Force as potential members of that conference.
"..Sources say that the Big East has made it clear that the league would definitely consider expanding to 14 teams in football if Army and Air Force could be enticed to join Navy to form a military wing of the conference," wrote Blaudschun. (LINK )
First off, I doubt that either Army or Air Force would be interested in jumping on the old Big East band wagon with Navy. Air Force is happy in their regionally appropriate yet formidable Mountain West Conference affiliation while Army likely sees the soon to be re-named old Big East as a re-flagged Conference USA that it bailed out of just a few years ago.
Air Force is well suited in the Mountain West. Taking quick glance of the schools in that league tells you that the Falcons are at home in the MWC. Colorado State, Wyoming, Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico are all in the Falcon's neck of the woods. Plus the MWC has a BCS tie in so the Falcons could potentially have a shot at winning a national championship if the stars align correctly. The Falcons also don't have to be member's in other conferences for non-football sports. They can compete in the MWC for all sports. I don't think the Falcons' administration would want to pay to fly the women's volleyball team to East Carolina for a match. A nice 18 million dollar a year TV deal that the MWC has with ESPN will help Air Force pay the light bill too.
Army has seen this before, "Join our conference and your problems will be over". The Black Knights joined the Conference USA in 1998 and it was a total flop. The Cadets went from being a consistent winner to a conference doormat. The Black Knights finished 10-2 and went to a bowl in 1996 but from 1998-2005 competing with the likes of Tulane, Memphis, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Southern Miss and others Army finished a pitiful combined 9-41. A nightmarish 0-13 2003 season was one of the worst records in the history of college football. This was a nasty blight to a program that has a storied football history of national titles and Heisman Trophy winners.
What does Army see with the old Big East? They likely see the same Conference USA that will soon be minus Louisville and Cincinnati. Why would they want to go through that again? Despite of couple of rough seasons, Army's current football program is not nearly as bad as it was while it was a conference member. The Black Knights have led the nation in rushing two years in a row and even won a bowl game in 2010. Heck, last season the Black Knights were a just a play or two away from winning a Commander-in-Chief's Trophy. As an independent the Black Knights have flexibility in their scheduling and get to keep their share of the Army-Navy annual cash cow, estimated to be up to $10 million a year, without splitting it with a conference. As for bowl tie-ins, Army has been more than able to maintain bowl arrangements as a potential reward for its player's hard work. As for BSC game potential, if Notre Dame can make it to the National Championship Game as an independent, then Army should similarly have that challenge if they ever return to national prominence.
Don't expect to be hearing news of Army and Air Force joining the old Big East anytime soon. They have too many good things going for them to risk joining a fledgling league begging for national viability. The Black Knights and Falcons should wish Navy well in their future conference endeavors but say "no thanks" to any offers from the old Big East.
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