According to The Beat of Sports, a radio station in Orlando, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco mentioned BYU and Air Force as obvious targets for expansion.
And here we go again.
The Air Force-Big East rumors haven’t died since the academy said it wasn’t interested in leaving the Mountain West last December. Nobody at Air Force has told me anything has changed since then. And it’s not like the Big East didn’t put on its best presentation last year. Now, perhaps Aresco will have new ideas and be able to sway Air Force to change its mind (Aresco is the new Big East commissioner, replacing John Marinatto, who made the pitch last year). The Big East might strike gold on a new television deal. One of Lt. Gen. Mike Gould’s concerns about the Big East – though not the only one – was that the money being promised by the Big East wouldn’t be as lucrative as hoped. And Gould did say Air Force could revisit its decision in the future, because he didn’t want to close any doors. But just because the Big East could come calling again doesn’t mean Air Force will jump this time.
The Big East hasn’t gotten stronger since Air Force declined, especially with automatic Bowl Championship Series bids going away and the Big East seemingly losing its status as a power conference in college football. The Big East’s new television contract hasn’t been worked out, so nobody is sure yet how much each school will make. There are still plenty of rumors that Louisville and Connecticut want to leave the Big East, so stability could be a lingering concern. The situation hasn’t changed that much and I don’t see why leaving the Mountain West is any more appealing to Air Force than it was when it said no to the Big East nine months ago. And like I said, from all the sources I’ve talked to, the issue has been pretty dead at Air Force for a while.
The biggest factor might be this: The two men at Air Force most responsible for wanting to stay in the Mountain West, Gould and football coach Troy Calhoun, haven’t left the academy. Gould’s term as superintendent is up in 2013. Calhoun could leave for another job, though he has passed on pursuing other opportunities so far. If one or both leaves, that might open a window for Air Force to look into the Big East again. But until we see a shift in something – the Big East getting a huge TV contract, the Big East becoming stronger as a football conference, Aresco making a more convincing argument to Air Force joining than his predecessor did, either Gould and/or Calhoun leaving and there being a different attitude about moving to the Big East from their replacement(s) at the academy, or some more changes in the Mountain West – I don’t think much has changed since the academy said no the first time.