PITTSBURGH — According to CBSSports.com’s Brett McMurphy, Army and Navy could be possible additions to the Big East in an attempt to expand to a 12-team football league.

McMurphy writes that, along with the usual rumored suspects for expansion — Villanova, Central Florida, East Carolina and Houston — Army and Navy are being considered.

“I believe the league will approach the academies first and if they turn the Big East down, then they’ll approach the other candidates,” a college football industry source tells McMurphy. “There are a lot of hurdles to overcome. The Big East would have to convince them that’s where they want to be.”

Both teams have been targets in the past but talks never formulated in to anything more than just that — talking. They both fit in to the conference’s geographical layout and have tradition-rich programs with recognizable names. Both also have deep fan bases and travel well because of service men and women across the country.

This idea is one that could definitely help the Big East grow to 12 teams if Army and Navy are serious about joining. But there are big differences between the service academies and the schools that make up the auto-BCS conferences. The goals and ideals are just different, aside from liking to make money.

The big problem that comes to mind centers around how these teams really help the Big East. Really, this appears to be a move that makes the conference bigger and nothing more.

Bigger and better should be the idea, no?

Army and Navy don’t help the prestige of the conference. Yes, Navy has been good in recent years. And yes, Army had a big bounce-back, seven-win season last year.

But these aren’t programs that recruit big names or play in big games, aside from their own rivalry game at the end of every season. They won’t improve the Big East competition-wise.

Imagine another down year in the Big East that results in a service academy in a BCS game. It’s a long shot for something like that to ever happen, but this is the Big East we’re talking about. The level of normalcy in unpredictable.

There would be a colossal uproar against the Big East owning an automatic BCS bid if something like that were to happen. The conference is already treading the line of being worthy of a BCS bid.

Programs like Houston, which is building a $120 million stadium, and East Carolina — both in top 25 TV markets — seem to be much more logical fits. Both have been competitive on a national level as well.

It all boils down to what programs seriously want to join this conference. If Houston and East Carolina aren’t interested it will likely drop down to Central Florida. Villanova, Army and Navy are below that.

No program will provide a TCU-like improvement, but there are certainly better options than Army and Navy.

Chris Gates | Area 4-1-Zoo Blog

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