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Big East Expansion: Conference Invites UCF, Four Others For Membership

The Big East has officially extended an invitation to the University of Central Florida Knights, along with four other schools, for entry into the conference. The Big East is attempting to save face and put together a viable conference that will keep a BCS bowl bid. The conference invited UCF and four other schools yesterday to replace Pittsburgh and Syracuse, two schools that announced last month they were bound for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Big East, wanting to keep pace with the NCAA landscape, invited five schools in Air Force, Boise State, Houston, Southern Methodist and UCF, though the latter three are the only schools extended an invitation for full entry. Air Force and Boise State were extended invitations as football-only members, probably to avoid the strain of the current Big East members' Olympic and non-revenue sports from having to travel such great distances and vice versa.

The conference's collective hand was forced yesterday, when the first numbers-wise "super" conference was constructed, as Conference USA and the Mounatin West Conference decided to join up to make a 22-team, two division league. As all five invitees were involved in the current expansion plans of the C-USA and the Mountain West, the Big East was again beaten to the punch on the expansion front.

Currently no schools have commented on the invitations, though it is expected that UCF will accept, and that Houston and Southern Methodist remain strong possibilities. However, it is unlikely that Boise State or Air Force will accept. Originally the Big East planned to extended offers to all three major service academies in Army, Navy and Air Force. When Army expressed little interest, it became a harder sell to the other two schools. Boise State has proven over the years that it doesn't need to be in a particular conference to have success. The Broncos just moved to the Mountain West last year after 10-plus years in the Western Athletic Conference, and appear to be comfortable with their new destination.

Certainly there will be more to come on this subject, so keep a tab open with SB Nation in your browser for updates.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.