BIG UPDATE BELOW
The University of Missouri will apply to join the SEC in a move that is both "inevitable and imminent," according to a New York Times report. That's huge news, especially since it came out just about an hour before the Big East Presidents were set to start a conference call to raise the conference's exit free from $5 million to $10 million. Why are these two connected? Because the 14 schools in the Big East need 11 votes to raise the exit fee, and Louisville and West Virginia are expected to be at the top of the Big XII's shopping list if Missouri bolts. I'll quote CBS' Brett McMurphy here:
Louisville and West Virginia would be leading candidates for the Big 12, but league sources told CBSSports.com Monday afternoon both schools would support increasing the league's exit fees. That was, however, before the Times' report Monday night that Missouri was headed to the SEC.
Translation: watch the results of tonight's conference call very carefully, because if Louisville and West Virginia vote no to raise the exit fee (why would they want to charge themselves an extra $5 million?) then all they'd need are two other no votes... you know, like the type of votes that UConn and Rutgers could easily provide.
It's unclear if the results of tonight's conference call will be announced this evening, or if we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out, but if that increase doesn't pass the Big East is as good as dead as a football conference.
UPDATE (9:35 p.m.): The Big East presidents have voted to double the league's exit fee BUT the move is contingent on Air Force and Navy joining the league, according to McMurphy. That probably leaves the Big East in a holding pattern, at least until the Big XII settles. Why would Navy and Air Force join the league now? They wouldn't, because they wanted the higher fees to keep schools like West Virginia and Louisville from leaving, they won't jump just to get a slice of their departure blood money. Oh, and then there's this last little bump from Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com (who has cornered the market on Big XII news):
If Missouri leaves the Big 12, there are differing views about if the Big 12 should proceed as a 10-member or 12-member league. But it appears the leading candidates to replace Missouri are West Virginia, Louisville and possibly BYU, the sources said.
If the league were to expand to 12, it could be all three.