Even though it’s not on most sports fans’ radar, there is yet another potential college conference realignment drama brewing.
This one comes from the Big East, and of course, it’s about football (which translates to being about money).
This past summer, Villanova, a member of the Big East since 1980, was told that the conference would be interested in adding the Wildcats as a football member if the school chose to upgrade it’s program to the FBS level. The Athletic Director responded that the school needed to evaluate the opportunity and perform due diligence.
During the interim, things started to get a little weird. First, TCU gets invited to become a full-member of the conference (and 9th football school) and immediately accepts. Then in January, with no word yet from ‘Nova, the Big East goes on record as saying the invitation is not open-ended. All the while, other football programs like Central Florida, East Carolina, Memphis, etc., that don’t belong to automatic bid conferences, are vying to be the Big East’s date for the BCS prom.
Which brings us to a few days ago when news leaks that Villanova is ready to accept and will schedule a Board of Trustees vote on the matter pending an official Big East invitation. Except no such invitation is issued. In fact, we start hearing that certain Big East football schools were never very comfortable with the concept of adding Villanova in the first place.
What does this all mean? First, it appears that the Big East football schools are now using their majority (thanks to TCU) to steer the conference in a more “football friendly” direction; even if that means the possibility of kicking a long-time conference member to the curb.
Ultimately, this will likely result in the football schools leaving the Big East to form their own conference. Then, if they want a Philadelphia member, they can go “Back to the Future” and invite Temple for a second shot at the BCS big time. What makes Temple a better fit than Villanova? For one, some recent success at the FBS level. For another (and more important from, what else, a financial standpoint), Temple plays their home games at an NFL stadium (Lincoln Financial Field), while ‘Nova will play at PPL Park, an MLS facility with a current capacity of just over 18,000. Enough said.
And of course the Big East renegades can always fill out the field (12 being the minimum for a conference championship game) with two of those desperate schools listed above. What happens to the remaining (Not So) Big East members? They are left to fend for themselves, but would likely align with the likes of an Atlantic 10 or Conference USA to form a single (and solid) basketball-focused league. Kind of where the Big East started in the first place, before football began determining the future of the college sports landscape.