Boise State has been a perennial Top 25 program for the past decade. Head coach Chris Petersen is 83-8 in seven seasons with the Broncos.
With Cincinnati — which has shared the Big East title in four of the past five years — and Boise State, the conference will have two solid programs to build around.
So UConn could play in an adequate conference. But building and enhancing the program might be tied to boosting the nonconference schedule.
Athletic director Warde Manuel has cited this as a priority since taking over earlier this year.
"Absolutely, in football and basketball, we're going to ensure for our fans and our teams that we play a schedule that showcases the talent and the strength of UConn sports," Manuel said Friday.
Some around the program believe that UConn should have boosted its out-of-conference schedule after the school played in the Motor City Bowl in 2004, the Huskies' first year competing in the Big East.
A program source said that former coach Randy Edsall wanted to use the nonconference schedule to pad the team's record with wins before embarking on the Big East schedule. Former athletic director Jeff Hathaway allowed Edsall to build the young program with a less-than-stout nonconference schedule, figuring that victories were important.
A better nonconference schedule might have attracted better recruits, which in turn might have led to more quality wins. And those wins might have provided the program with more credibility with ACC football schools when it came time for expansion, some close to the program believe.
With the potential for an even weaker conference schedule in the future, scheduling strong nonconference opponents will be crucial to sustain the program.