I posted this a few before on another thread and I still think it makes the most sense for the BE from a BCS standpoint and an allsports standpoint as well.
IMO, the Big East needs to focus on strong football schools within the Eastern and Central time zones. They need to bring in programs that can compete in football right away, even if the other sports may need some improvement, which the BE affiliation could probably help quickly. I think the 12 team two division All Sports set up is the best way to go. That said here are the Universities I think would strengthen the conference the most:
1. Memphis - I have read many of the posts, both positive and negative for the school, including the so called "spat" with Louisville. But, Memphis has a great TV market #44, an up and coming football program with a fine stadium, strong basketball (currently #3 in the country) and one of the best basketball venues in the country. Memphis could be the cornerstone of the Big East's final expansion. All this school needs in football is some teams outside of Southern Miss to compete with.
2. East Carolina - Geographically it's a good fit. The football program is down right now, but they have a solid fan base and a turn around with Holtz seems apparent. The basketball program is a diamond in the rough. Although the TV market isn't in the top 20, it's close at a suprising #35! Plus, they have an outstanding baseball program. The facilities there are pretty good and they have a nice loyal fan base.
3. Southern Miss - What can you say about the football program there? These guys play as tough as any team in the nation. They will bring a more impressive football identity than any of the recent additions to the BE and that includes the so called CUSA king Louisville. They are expanding their stadium to around 45k to make them more attractive as well. The basketball situation isn't great, but they hired Larry Eustachy and he should turn things around soon. It's a small TV market, but when you combine the 3 main areas they draw from, Hattiesburg, Jackson and the gulf coast, it gives them around 568K which would place their TV market at # 55. Also another very good baseball school.
4. UCF- The football program is still a question mark, but they had a solid 2005. Great TV market and they're building facilities to compete with the Big East schools. Basketball is ok and did I mention their TV market is #20! I'm not sure South Florida would go for them, so this would be my greatest concern for their inclusion. I guess UAB could be a fallback here, but I don't think UAB is going to put forth the dollars required to compete in the BE.
So these southern four combined with recent additions South Florida and Louisville could make up the Big East South, allowing the Big East to power into the deep south terrain that has always been dominated by the SEC. There are great, great footbal players in the deep south that some of the BE schools would love to be able to recruit more easily. The BE media coverage in the south would grow tremedously and annual games in the south would help recruits be more familiar with Rutgers, Cincy, Pitt and UConn.
Notice those I left out:
Army and Navy-I don't see the benefit of adding football only schools, regardless of tradition or location. Plus Army is awful and not getting any better.
Marshall- I see no way WVU will allow this. It will take a act of the State Legislature to make this happen.
UMASS, Nova - Just can't risk more 1-AA schools failing at big time football.
Temple- BE kicked them out and the've made no strides for a second look.
The new set up would look like this:
5. WEST VIRGINIA
2. SOUTH FLORIDA
3. SOUTHERN MISS
5. EAST CAROLINA
As an SEC fan, I know how passionate the south is about their football. I think these programs would blossom in the BE and help the legue solidify itself in the BCS. Southern football is amazing. The BE will never match the SEC or the Big XII in my estimatation, but I do believe if football is where the BE wants to add strength, this would be the best scenario. I live in the south and have seen all four of these schools facilities and know the programs well. They will blossom in the BE and I could see the BE as a top four-five conference five or six years after this takes place.