Expansion took a turn for the bizarre Tuesday when the Big East — if one can even still call it that — decided to add Tulane in all sports and East Carolina in football.
The Big East just lost Rutgers to the Big Ten and adds two more Conference USA pieces to a conference that once used to reside in just the East.
Adding East Carolina makes some sense considering what's available from a football standpoint. Former coach Skip Holtz made ECU a respectable football program, but Ruffin McNeill has struggled up until this season. The Pirates are 8-4 this year, their best record since winning nine games in 2009.
But the addition of Tulane raises a lot of eyebrows. The Green Wave has struggled financially and part of that is because of an apathetic fan base that's had to endure 10 consecutive losing seasons. The Green Wave has not won more than five games since 2002 and has sparsely been competitive during that span. Tulane is averaging just over 18,000 fans per game.
And if it's a television market the Big East was after to replace what was lost when Rutgers bailed, this is not the solution. In New Orleans, the NFL's Saints are king followed by LSU. Even Louisiana's Sun Belt schools might have a little more traction in New Orleans than the city's struggling university.
The move almost seems like an addition for the sake of addition. With the Big Ten and ACC making moves, there's definitely some pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Also, there have rumblings that Boise State and San Diego State are unhappy about the direction of the Big East. This could be a way to lessen the blow should those schools decide to return to the Mountain West.
In any case, this move won't help the Big East's brand. If anything, it weakens it because the Big East is so spread out across the country it's lost its identity. Other members for 2013 include Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Louisville, Cincinnati, Temple, UConn, Louisville, South Florida, Boise State and San Diego State.
Currently, the Big East is at 14 teams and will add Navy in 2014. Could more random additions -- perhaps Hawaii or a Canadian university -- be on the horizon? That would make about as much sense as the Big East's recent moves.
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