As recently covered, Navy has joined the Big East as a football-only member. The Big East, not unlike Conference-USA, is a relatively young football conference, starting play in 1991. It lacks the tradition and stability of both the PAC-12 and Big-10, and throughout its history has had a shifting lineup of members.
The league has grappled with other conferences for members since its inception, most notably in the early 2000’s when it lost Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College to the ACC. The recent decision by TCU to reverse course on joining the league to instead head to the Big-12, as well as West Virginia’s choice to leave for the Big-12 (currently being litigated), only underscored the conference’s inability to achieve football stability.
Enter Navy. The Mids joining a conference, after remaining independent since 1879, gives the Big East what it needs: a ‘name’ football program, based in the East, that’s not going to hop conferences. Through an agreement with the team, Navy will also retain three traditional rivalries on its schedule: Army/Navy, Navy/Notre Dame, and Navy/Air Force. The co-opting of the Army/Navy game is perhaps the greatest coup of Navy joining the Big-East: the country’s most established football rivalry will now involve a Big East team.