Where UCF fits in the national college football conference expansion

By Ryan Bass

Sports Editor

Published: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Central Florida Future

Associated Press

And the waiting game begins for UCF.

Now that the Texas Longhorns have decided that a television network was more important than moving into a massive conference, the national college football conference realignment has been put on hold — for the time being.

As expected, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M all followed the Longhorns and decided to stay with the Big 12 (which has 10 teams now) conference.

Nebraska jumped to the Big Ten, Colorado opted for the Pac-10 and Boise State shocked all by moving from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference.

So where does UCF stand in all of this?

Well they are now waiting on the Big Ten, hoping they choose to expand the amount of teams in their conference.

Or they can hope the Pac-10 will look to add a team from the Big East, which is unlikely, seeing as they are very interested in adding Utah as the 12th team to the conference.

The key here will be to see if Rutgers gets the call from the Big Ten.

Right now, Notre Dame is the team on the Big Ten's radar that they would love to add, because of obvious money and television deals, but it's expected that the Fighting Irish will stay independent in football.

The hope now stands with the Scarlet Knights and the Big Ten.

The thought is that the conference will try to continue expanding, adding another team in Rutgers to the mix, freeing up one spot in the Big East. That would then open up the chance to choose one of three Conference USA teams: Houston, Memphis or UCF.

Memphis would only make sense if the $10 million FedEx rumors go through, but they are not a big market and other than basketball, are not an attractive pull.

The battle would be between the Cougars and the Knights, two of the top teams in conference in the past couple of years.

Both are big markets — Houston obviously being the larger — and both are spending millions of dollars over the next decade to improve their athletic facilities.

In this case, the Knights get the nod because of the amount of money in athletics, the rise of their football, basketball and baseball programs and because they are the third-largest university in the nation.

The latest rumors now are the Big East isn't  waiting for the Big Ten to make a move.

Unconfirmed sources have said that Big East will be holding a conference call with its schools' athletic directors and presidents later this week.

The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University's student newspaper, talked with the new athletic director, Oliver Luck, who said that "any conference calls that take place at this time will talk about realignment."

It seems like the Big East doesn't want to wait for another seismic shift in the conference landscape, because if they lose one of their eight football programs, they could lose their automatic Bowl Championship Series bid.

That could severely affect not just their football programs, but those programs that are in the Big East for basketball as well.

The answer here for the Knights is to again wait and see.

A lot will be known after the Big East conference call. It could impact up to four schools in Conference USA, because Memphis, UCF, ECU and Houston all are on the radar to move up to the Big East.

Regardless, if the Big Ten comes calling for the Scarlet Knights, you can rest assured the Big East will be scrambling to grab UCF and other schools to try to expand the number of football teams to 10.

All questions should be answered soon.

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