I know this week is all but totally consumed with Final Four talk (and with good reason, wowoooowowowooooo!), but the news of UCF hiring Donnie Jones away from Marshall is still relatively decently sized news.
First, Donnie Jones is a pretty darn good coach, so UCF made a good hire. Second, Jones and his wife are both WV natives, so this was no small coup to lure him away from Huntington. And third -- and this is the most important -- they gave him a bunch of money; $800k per year, to be exact, which was more than double he was making at Marshall. UCF is also paying its football coach, George O'Leary, over $1 million per year. And I haven't even yet mentioned they've opened two essentially new facilities (a brand new football stadium and a totally renovated basketball arena) in the last three years. That, my friends, is a big time commitment to athletics. It's a big enough commitment in my mind to warrant an invitation to the Big East.
UCF brings a few other things to the table, as well. Their location in a major city like Orlando is a big plus. The proximity to USF is another positive contributing factor. All of these combine to make UCF a very sexy pick for conference expansion, at least as far as the Big East is concerned.
For the longest time, I was a proponent of ECU as the 9th member, and I don't think ECU has done anything to move down in the pecking order. I just think UCF has done everything right to move up. They're prospects long-term in basketball are certainly much brighter (ECU is consistently terrible), and a new stadium and Florida recruiting bode well for UCF football.
As of right now, I have to say, they're the leaders in the clubhouse.