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Chuck Landon: Arrogant UCF no lock for Big East

Jan. 25, 2011 @ 12:00 AM

UCF would give its left initial to join the Big East Conference.

But has any commentary surfaced recently on the prospect of that happening?


Except in Orlando, Fla., of course.

That is where UCF and an ego the size of Disney World is located. A recent column in UCF's student newspaper, the Central Florida Future, probably captures the overall attitude best.

"UCF coaches and players won't admit it," wrote sports editor Erika Esola. "The athletics department won't admit it. But I will. Being a member of Conference USA is embarrassing for our entire athletic department. It's time to move on."

Isn't that an interesting viewpoint?

Dreadfully myopic, but still interesting.

Perhaps, the most entertaining part is now it seems Memphis has competition for possessing the most arrogant attitude in C-USA.

And, yes, it is misplaced in both cases.

Much to both C-USA members' chagrin, the Big East isn't knocking on -- much less knocking down -- either of their doors.

There are good reasons for that.

The Big East needs another good, or at least decent, football member. Memphis is neither in football. The Tigers specialize in men's basketball, which the 17-team Big East needs like. ... well, like another member.

That's partially UCF's problem, as well. Granted, the Knights have a football program that would be very competitive in the Big East. Given UCF's facilities, location and resources, the Knights' football program would be a good fit for the Big East.

But what about UCF's other sports?

Ah, there's the rub.

The Big East isn't interested in any UCF sport but football. If the Knights would accept a football-only offer, they probably would be invited to join.

But UCF athletic director Keith Tribble wasn't talking that way when he lured basketball coach Donnie Jones away from Marshall with innuendos Jones soon would be coaching in the Big East.

Unless Tribble has a change of heart and throws Jones' basketball program under the team bus, he's going to hold out for an all-sports invitation.

Maybe that invite will come. Maybe it won't.

The Big East tried the same strong-arm tactic with TCU, but the Horned Frogs called their bluff. All TCU sports or none, take it or leave it. The Big East took it, of course, because the league had to have TCU's strong football program or risk losing its automatic BCS berth.

UCF football doesn't have that kind of clout.

That's why the Big East is still waiting on Villanova to decide whether it will elevate its football program from FBC (formerly I-AA) to FBS status. 'Nova doesn't appear thrilled with the idea, mostly because of money.

Besides having to fund 22 additional scholarships, the move would entail massive renovations to 12,500-seat Villanova Stadium. Otherwise, it would be the smallest venue in FBS, which is now Idaho's 16,000-seat Kibbie Dome.

So, what's the answer?

Well, it isn't Temple. Been there, booted that. Besides, Al Golden doesn't coach there anymore.

I think the solution is. ... East Carolina.

If the Big East would offer a football-only proposition, my guess is the Pirates would jump at the opportunity. And I wouldn't blame East Carolina a bit.

Basketball never has been a big deal at East Carolina, as evidenced by the Pirates' average home attendance of 3,934 this season.

So, will it be UCF all sports or East Carolina football-only?

I'm pulling for the Pirates.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827. E-mail him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.



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