In a move designed to re-assure potential expansion targets like SMU and protect themselves after the ACC helped themselves to Pittsburgh and Syracuse, the Big East is planning on doubling its exit fee to leave the league to at least $10 million.
It's a necessary step if the conference has any chance of remaining stable enough to keep its AQ berth when the next BCS contract is negotiated in 2013, as several of its schools are reportedly still being targeted by other conferences.
The SEC is unlikely to stay at 13 teams long-term, and they have been linked closely to Big East member West Virginia as well as Missouri. Strangely, a Tigers' departure might be worse for the Big East, because that would likely prompt the Big 12 to expand from nine teams back to 12, instead of sticking with 10 if Missouri stays.
Two of their main targets in that scenario would be Louisville and West Virginia, and their departure would leave the Big East with only four football-playing schools: UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida and Rutgers. And with Connecticut still angling to get a bid into the ACC, at that point, the Big East might not be more appealing to schools like SMU and Boise State than their current arrangement in the newly created merger between Conference USA and the Mountain West.