MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Big East Conference coaches, administrators and executives descend upon Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., this weekend for the most important round of league meetings since, well, the last time a rival conference readied for a raid.
Seven springs ago, the Atlantic Coast Conference meetings in nearby Amelia Island, Fla., preceded the Big East's meetings. From the ACC's gathering came a prompt and unexpected decision for the conference presidents to vote on expansion.
The presidents approved the additions just before the Big East meetings. The plan then was widely considered to include Miami, Boston College and Syracuse from the Big East. Ultimately, Virginia Tech would be swapped for the Orange.
This time, the Big Ten is exploring expansion and it's again thought Big East teams could be invited. The Big Ten met this week in Chicago, once more preceding the Big East, although no news came from the event apart from a proclamation from Commissioner Jim Delany that there was no accelerated schedule for expansion.
"There are a lot of similarities," WVU Director of Athletics Ed Pastilong said. "There's still some speculation as to what's taking place, but seven years ago the schools that were mentioned were more prevalent.
"This one here is more speculative and it involves other conferences as well as ours. Back then, it was just us and the ACC. This time there's been talk as well all know about the Big East as well as other schools."
The expansion topic isn't as sudden this time. The Big Ten began its thought process months ago and the Big East has been navigating a fluid and uncertain situation ever since. Yet while there are differences the second time around, there is one useful similarity.
"It's equally as concerning," Pastilong said. "Having gone through it once already, you're ready for what lies ahead somewhat, but you still don't know what's going to happen until it's unveiled or until it happens. There is no standard procedure."
The Big East's meetings, which begin Sunday and conclude early Wednesday, are an annual event designed to discuss and workshop different topics. Pastilong said the expansion situation has been aided by the assistance of former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue as well as regular conference calls.
He expects no expansion news to come from the meetings, although it's an obvious talking point.
"At the same time, we know what else we have to discuss," said John Paquette, the Big East associate commissioner for communications. "We know that situation is out there, so of course we're going to discuss it. How much time we spend on it, I don't know.
"That will be up to (Commissioner John Marinatto) and the (16 school) ADs to decide. Certainly people are probably paying attention a little more this year to what goes on at these conference meetings than what they have in the past, but a lot of this is for what we'd call 'regular business.'"