Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — While Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East Conference, a CBSSports.com report said that talks between BYU and the Big East have "resurfaced," and that BYU "has decided not to accept the Big East's latest invite."
BYU officials don't comment on such reports.
Last November, BYU, which is in its second year as a football independent, was reportedly close to joining the Big East. The Big East has been looking for another Western school to be a member of the league along with Boise State and San Diego State. The Big East is also seeking to land a lucrative TV contract, and the addition of BYU would be a boon for the conference.
Washington (D.C.) Examiner columnist Jim Williams, who has extensive contacts in the Big East and on the East Coast, told the Deseret News that the Big East and BYU have "never really stopped talking."
According to Williams, newly hired commissioner Mike Aresco reconnected with BYU administrators recently.
"Talks intensified," he said in an e-mail. "So they are talking — that does not mean that they will join, but they continue to talk."
Williams added that Tuesday's report that BYU turned down an invitation to join the Big East was "wrong. The Big East did not make an offer and BYU did not turn it down."
Meanwhile, college football realignment remains very fluid.
The Atlantic Coast Conference is hoping to keep Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech in its ranks, as Florida State and Clemson are being courted by the Big 12 — which has 10 teams — while the Big Ten might be interested in poaching Georgia Tech from the ACC and Vanderbilt from the Southeastern Conference, according to Williams.
"Things are all up in the air right now, so if BYU wants to be in a conference, their best bet is where things stand at this point (as an independent). Both sides continue to talk and my guess is that BYU wants to see what the ACC does. They are in no rush. I think that both the Big East and BYU want to work together, but it has to be under the right conditions."
Tulane, ECU will leave C-USA to join Big East in 2014
The Big East moved quickly to replace Rutgers and braced for more possible departures, getting Tulane and East Carolina to agree to join the re-invented conference in 2014.
"I would go as far to say as this is a historic day for Tulane University ... the Big East is coming to the Big Easy," school President Scott Cowen said Tuesday.
Tulane, in New Orleans, and East Carolina, in Greenville, N.C., will make it six Conference USA schools to join the Big East in the last two years.
Rutgers announced a week ago that it would leave the Big East for the Big Ten. Cowen and athletic director Rick Dickson said serious talks with the Big East began about a week ago.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity to join a national conference," Dickson said.
ECU athletic director Terry Holland said an offer to join the Big East came Sunday. "It was a quick turnaround," he said.
Rutgers would like to join the Big Ten by 2014, along with Maryland, but the Scarlet Knights have left their departure date from the Big East ambiguous. Conference bylaws require members to give the league notification of two years and three months before departing, but the Big East has negotiated early exits for Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the past year.
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