ESPN.com’s Brett McMurphy reports Tulsa to the Big East — at least, the conference that’s currently called the Big East — is the latest shift in the conference realignment landscape. East Carolina will also come on board as a full member, McMurphy writes.
Boise State and San Diego State both balking at football-only membership left the conference facing 11-team membership in 2015, once the Navy Midshipmen join. Rumored candidates included the BYU Cougars, though any chance of what was already a pipe dream dissipated when BSU and SDSU opted to remain in the Mountain West.
Tulsa was the other heavily rumored candidate, and a logical addition to the soon-to-be-renamed Big East. Its location gives Houston, SMU, Tulane and Memphis another more-western counterpart, and Golden Hurricane football has been some of the nation’s most consistent through the last decade and several coaching changes. This past season, Bill Blankenship became the third Golden Hurricane head coach to win a postseason game with his team’s 31-17 defeat of the Iowa State Cyclones in the Liberty Bowl. Blankenship also led Tulsa to the 2012 Conference USA championship.
Since Steve Kragthrope reinvigorated the struggling program in 2003, it has missed the postseason just twice. Tulsa brings much-needed football stability, whereas TV market size predicated other C-USA-to-Big East additions like Tulane and Memphis.
The Big East’s member breakdown in 2015 is currently Cincinnati, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF and USF. Only Connecticut, Navy and Temple were never Conference USA members.
Here is the landscape: