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Old 04-27-2010, 02:35 PM   #1
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UCF to the Big East?

"I think we're on the lips of a lot of commissioners and presidents," O'Leary told FanHouse. "All we can do is win [and] get [more] fans. You've got to have the fan base, they look at that stuff. How many you put in the stadium? How do you travel?"

With the Big Ten expected to snag anywhere from one to three Big East teams, the Big East will be looking to restock. Multiple league sources said UCF has emerged as the Big East's No. 1 target from the non-automatic qualifying BCS leagues, a sentiment shared recently by a fairly prominent basketball coach.

"If this does happen [the Big Ten takes from the Big East] we've got to be proactive, we've got to be ready for Central Florida," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said last week. "We've got to be ready to get two other programs into this equation."

While the Big Ten decides whether to expand by one to five teams, the Big East has indicated it won't stand by helplessly in the process. Last week, the league announced that former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue would work at helping mold the league's future.

What the future holds is anyone's guess a football league with eight, nine or 12 members and/or a basketball league with as many as 20 members? Big East commissioner John Marinatto said anything and everything is in play.

Marinatto said last week that much like an athletic director keeps a list of coaches he would pursue to replace a coach, he has a list of possible schools for expansion. He will not reveal what schools.

"There has been no formal process [about the Big East expanding], no formal discussions with anyone," Marinatto said. "But like everyone else in our league, I've thought a lot about it."

The New York Post and Boston Globe have reported Maryland and Boston College might be possibilities for the Big East, but it's unknown how the Big East might lure those schools from the ACC.

UCF, meanwhile, would give the Big East another presence in Florida and to its fertile recruiting grounds. The league most likely would set up the schedule to guarantee each league team a visit to either South Florida or Central Florida each season.

After a brief two-year stint in the Mid-American Conference, UCF has been in Conference USA since 2005. The Knights have been to bowl games in three of their five seasons in C-USA, winning the league title in 2007. They were the league runners-up in 2005.

"UCF would be a great candidate," O'Leary said. "When you look at the school size, facilities, academics, the weather and the [nation's No. 19] TV market is something that Orlando brings," O'Leary said. "There are a lot of a major pluses why UCF would be considered. The big thing is all we can do is win, continue to do the things we need to do and all the other things will take care of itself.

"Obviously I think we have everything in place to move. We're working the back doors to make sure we're on the lips of people. A lot of statements are being made and UCF is being mentioned. I think that's what you want."

New South Florida coach Skip Holtz spent the past five seasons in C-USA as head coach at East Carolina. When asked who he would take from his former league to the Big East if he was commissioner, Holtz chose East Carolina, Memphis and UCF, in that order.

"East Carolina, with its success, and football attendance," Holtz said. "Memphis brings a lot, playing basketball in an NBA arena and the football stadium they play in and I believe Central Florida would be in consideration."

USF and UCF met four times in football from 2005-08 USF won all four meetings but the Bulls ended the series because school officials, including former coach Jim Leavitt, felt they ultimately had nothing to gain playing the Knights, who are located 90 miles from Tampa.

When asked if he wanted UCF in the Big East, Holtz didn't say yes, but he didn't scream no, either.

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Old 04-27-2010, 03:06 PM   #2
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UCF is legit. Took them to a national championship in NCAA '10, in fact I won it all with them. Problem being, after going on a 30 something game win streak, defending national champs,including an undefeated season, they weren't invited to the national championship. They have all the tools necessary to be succesful.

On a serious note, I wonder how USF would feel about that.
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Old 04-27-2010, 03:12 PM   #3
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USF can't like it. Frankly, I don't like it much either. The BE is already represented in Florida, so I'd rather go elsewhere. How about Tulsa or Houston?
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Old 04-27-2010, 04:55 PM   #4
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O'Leary's had 6 or 7 years to get that program up and running (been referred to as a sleeping giant more times than I can count) and hasn't had much luck aside from getting to a few minor bowl games (Liberty awhile back and whatever they played Rutgers in last year).

To be completely transparent, I actually got my associate's from UCF in '06 before transferring back to UC...

Anyway, UCF has beautiful facilities, a brand new stadium that seats around 55k I believe, a HUGE student body (55k+ and growing) and a very large television market/fan base.

However... Their athletics leave a lot to be desired. Football, as previously stated, hasn't been all that successful. Basketball went to the tourney once back in '04 I believe and would instantly be in the bottom of the barrel in the BEast. Baseball has had some success, but nothing to get overly excited about.

Show me a couple of years of consistency in C-USA and I might support the addition if the opportunity presented itself, but until then...
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big east, ucf

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