Realignment has trickle down effect for ‘Nova, Temple


NEW YORK -- The issue of realignment in college sports has turned into a domino effect over the past few weeks that has trickled down to the Big 5.

According to reports, Temple was considered for an invitation to the Big East. But reports indicate that Villanova vehemently opposed Temples invitation into the Big East and successfully helped block it.

Villanova mens basketball coach Jay Wright didnt specifically say that Villanova indeed did block Temples invitation but explained why 'Nova is against it. He explained that the Big East is already sufficient when it comes to basketball but is trying to be the best in every sport. The conference is lacking in football and is looking to add schools that help in that regard. Therefore, the Big East has reportedly reached out to UCF (for all sports), Houston (for all sports), SMU (for all sports), Air Force (football only) and Boise State (football only).

I think its great for the conference, Wright said about the Big East reaching out to the above-mentioned schools. The conference is about all sports. You have to a strong conference in all sports. They help us in football a lot, Boise State especially. We dont really need help in basketball.

Temples football program, currently a member of the MAC after being removed from the Big East following the 2003 season, has drastically improved over the past few years under the guidance of Al Golden and now Steve Addazio. But most would agree that Temple is still not at the point where it would help improve the Big East in football. Whereas, Boise State and Houston, two of the teams reportedly invited to join the conference, would certainly help.

Wright also explained that Villanova itself would like to become a member of the Big East in football, thus opposes Temple receiving an invitation, as that would lessen Villanovas chances of joining. Villanova football is currently an FCS member, so joining the Big East would be a significant upgrade to their program.

We want to be in for football, Wright said, so whatever the conference does to get us in for football, were happy about it. I dont care what they do with Temple, as long as they put us in for football.

Wright added simply that, its business.

Although Wright is Villanovas basketball coach and his program is already in the Big East, he remains very adamant about vouching for Novas football program to join the Big East.

Bottom line is for Villanova: We want to be in for football, Wright said. Bottom line. So, how Temple gets brought into that is not Villanovas responsibility. There are people that want Temple in, so they use Villanova. Villanova wants to be in for football. We all know all the good things that can come from Temple being in too, but thats not Villanovas responsibility. Villanovas responsibility is getting Villanova in for football.

There had already been some conference realignment over the last year or two, but the domino effect really got rolling when Pittsburgh and Syracuse suddenly decided to leave the Big East for the ACC a few weeks ago. The loss of Pittsburgh and Syracuse left the Big East football conference in peril.

Boise State clearly helps the Big East when it comes to football. Its football program has been one of the best in college football in recent years. And Houston is a team that has been in college footballs Top 25 this year and in recent years. But the question remains why Temple is the school that was left out of the equation, whereas SMU, UCF and Air Force, three schools that certainly arent powerhouses in football by any means, were invited. However, Wright strongly believes that Temple would be in the way of any chance Villanova football has of getting into the Big East.

I think its always possible, Wright said of the chances Temple could still be invited. The issue with Temple for Villanova is that we want to be in for football. Thats the issue. Its not Temple. We have great respect for Temple.

Louisville mens basketball coach Rick Pitino has publicly been a strong supporter of Temple joining the Big East. He feels that it would be a large benefit and doesnt understand why the conference has not invited Temple.

I think they have an outstanding football program the last few years, Pitino said about Temple on Thursday at Big East media day. I think their basketball program is every bit on the same level as any Big East team. I think theyre good in other sports. I think it fits the inner-city, Big East mentality that weve had for years.

But Pitino feels that the reason isnt because Villanova or any other school is blocking Temples invitation. He feels that the Big East would invite Temple if it really wanted to. Pitino thinks the Big East simply doesnt want two teams in the same geographical market.

Its more about marketing and TV and things of that nature that they look at, Pitino said. I dont look at that.

Clearly, the Big East is becoming a national conference, unlike its name, as evidenced by the additions of Marquette, Louisville, South Florida and DePaul during recent years as well as the latest interest in Boise State, Houston, SMU, UCF and Air Force.

Temple is seven miles from Villanova, Pitino said. So thats probably the stumbling block for Templebeing so close. Not that Villanova would not want TempleIm sure they would. But theyre looking for different markets, I guess. Thats how its been explained to me.

Villanova has great respect for Temple. Theyre definitely not blocking them. If everyone wanted Temple, Villanova would be for it.

Wrights reasoning makes sense to a point. Without saying it, it seems he doesnt feel that Temple makes the Big East a better football conference. And he also wants his own school to get a football invite. The addition of Temple for basketball as well wouldnt drastically improve the conference, which is already arguably the best conference in college basketball as is, and it could hurt Wrights recruiting efforts in the Philadelphia area.

Temple would be my pick over everyone, Pitino said, because of their basketball, because of their other sports, football. They would be my number one pick if I was expanding. But I dont understand the TV markets, and certainly being seven miles away from Villanova.

Thats just my thinking. Im not the Big East commissioner. Im just the basketball coach at Louisville.

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