L'ville, USF, Cincy, DePaul, & Marquette, were all in C-USA. If BE split and/or expanded, no doubt, they may look in that direction again.
The Notre Dame & Villanova scenarios that have been posted would assume, for the long term, that BE will not split, and therefore for fb expansion, be limited to enticements and elevations from current BE sports participants. This assumes two major points:
1. That the BE, holding together, and expanding with what they did the last two years, are embracing this format on factors exceeding the payouts over the next few years, or to 2010, of past NCAA bb tournament revenues obligated to the named conference.
2. The fb schools are fundamentally satisfied with the quantity and quality of the current membership, desire no fb championship game or divisional play, and believe, from within the conference, new prospects are available, i. e. Notre Dame, Villanova, and/or Georgetown.
The above assumptions would be flawed, because of the following:
1. A declaration by Notre Dame to play three BE fb games eventually, falls far short of fb conference membership. While this may offer some recognition and revenue for the involved schools, it is coupled with Notre Dame's recent affirmed stance of staying fb independent. Even with a split, the odd association with ND could still continue if desired.
2. If ND did decide to explore conference membership, there are few who think it would be the BE. When speculated upon, the B10 garners the strongest interest.
3. For Villanova and/or Georgetown to upgrade will require extensive commitments and revenues that have not been announced or proposed via the press.
4. Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia are long-established, successful, and prominent programs. It is hard to believe they would hold themselves in limbo for an undetermined number of years dependent upon 1-AA upgrades from a couple private schools not neccessarily rich in fb tradition. Also, while being associated with Notre Dame may have some merit, the high profile programs in the BE cannot be silly enough to stake their future sports prospects on a hopeful commitment they fundamentally know will never develop.
5. The tie-in with the bb schools will certainly negate or highly limit the 8 fb schools from expanding outside the current BE. Schools that may consider fb only membership, i. e. East Carolina, are few, and would re-establish the Temple syndrome which did not work well previously.
6. The 8 fb schools will be focused on an "all sports" objective because that is what they are. The current configuration of the BE is counter to that. Why would the fb schools limit their options and cut themselves from exploring potential associations that are not part of the current BE bb group?
The split shall come!