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Will the Last Team to Leave the Big East Please Shut Off the Lights?

By September 19, 2011

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When the news of Syracuse and Pittsburgh leaving the Big East became public, the natural first question was, "who else is leaving?"

The answer is apparently "everyone."

ACC commissioner John Swofford confirmed that multiple members of the Big East - including Villanova - have applied for membership in the ACC. The Wildcats' application is particularly interesting because Villanova does not currently play football at the "Football Bowl Subdivision" (formerly known as Division I-A) level.

But Villanova has long been a power at the Football Championship Subdivision (aka I-AA) level.

This raises two interesting possibilities.

Perhaps Villanova has decided to make the jump, and to start competing at college football's highest level. Or perhaps, as Chris Lane of The Nova Blog suggests, the Wildcats hope to shift to the ACC under the same conditions as their Big East membership, participating in all sports save for football. In that case, Lane continues, it would make sense to bring along another basketball-only member from the Big East, to keep an even number of teams in the league. He mentions Georgetown and St. John's as reasonable possibilities.

Of those two, St. John's would seem to make more sense, given their presence in the New York media market. (The ACC already has a pretty good presence in Washington DC thanks to the Maryland Terrapins.) Of course, there have also been reports that John Swofford believes Syracuse will get him New York, which is a reason the league seems dis-inclined to add a school like Rutgers or even Connecticut unless other offers fall through.

One thing that does seem abundantly clear: if even the non-football schools are looking for an exit strategy, the Big East as we have come to know it is on its very last legs.

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