There are early talks with some of the current Big East football programs to team up with the best of the Mountain West fo form a Transcontinental Conference.
The current Big East football teams are getting antsy, and there are talks that Connecticut and Cincinnati are looking to start a new all-sports conference. Those two schools want to create a league that would span the United States, and include a few of the better Mountain West programs.
The story was first reported by Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News, and their sources are saying that the talks to form a new league is in the early stages. Here are the early details:
The proposed entrants would be UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Memphis, Temple, Boise State, San Diego State, UNLV, New Mexico and possibly BYU or Central Florida. Such a league would include football programs that are comparable and competitive, as well as extraordinary basketball featuring eight teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last season. NBC Sports Network is likely to be approached to gauge its interest in such a property.
This would break up the Mountain West and leave behind Hawaii (for football), Colorado State, Air Force, Utah State, San Jose State, Nevada, Fresno State and Wyoming. That would mean that the Mountain West would likely need to add Idaho and New Mexico State to have 10 football members, and nine basketball schools.
This new "Transcontinental Conference" would be a stud basketball league featuring three teams that have won a national title. Not sure BYU would want to join this league, but if they did it would make the hoops portion be much stronger. As for football, it would still be Boise State's league to lose, but overall it would still be the sixth best conference behind the ACC.
One thought about this potential league is that Cincy and UConn are using it to leverage a an invite to the ACC. One thing that the Sporting News article mentions is that there need to be some sort of grant of rights similar to what the Big 12 did, which includes turning over the team's television rights to the league. Meaning that if they do leave the television right's remain with the former league, and no money go to those schools.
NBC Sports also is reportedly going to be approached to be the primary rights holder for this cross-country league. This could possibly work, but travel for the non-revenue sports would mean a large media rights deal would need to be signed.
Out of all of the plans about how the Big East would ultimately end up, this is the best option to form a viable conference. Will it happen, who knows because the Mountain West was formed in the Denver airport in one day, so one can't say never that this type of league could become a reality.