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Atlantic 10 should think big

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Craig Stouffer

Georgetown was criticized as it waited and waited before finally gathering its basketball-only Catholic friends and bolting from the desperate and crumbling Big East.

Now that the domino at one end of M Street has fallen, it's time to move over to Foggy Bottom and George Washington -- or at least the conference in which the Colonials reside. The Atlantic 10 has the best candidates to join the Hoyas' new conference. The biggest difference between the A-10 and the Georgetown-led group of seven is that the A-10 doesn't need the dust to settle before making its next move.

The conference already is bracing for the departure of a number of schools. Butler president James Danko released a statement Monday that essentially said the Bulldogs enjoy the flirting and distinctly didn't promise that they would stay put. Xavier, Saint Louis and Dayton also have been mentioned as potential defectors.

But the same league that had the forethought to poach Butler from the Horizon League and VCU from the CAA could be driven by similar heady ambitions if they lose them. One solution could be similar to the megaconference that the A-10 said it was reportedly open to when word of the Big East breakup surfaced last week. What if it actually included what's left of the Big East instead of the defectors?

First, the football programs at those schools would stay in the Big East, which would be free to be as big and random as is necessary to retain the BCS contract that goes through 2013.

For basketball and other sports, the A-10 keeps Temple and adds not just Memphis, Tulane, Central Florida, Houston and SMU but also Connecticut, Cincinnati and South Florida. In the short term, it might be a step down basketball-wise for the Huskies, Bearcats and Bulls, but they're running out of options anyway. This grouping, while obscenely large, makes as much sense regionally as anything else that realignment has produced so far.

It's so crazy it just might work. If it did, all that's left would be to find a new conference home for George Mason.

- Craig Stouffer

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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