Villanova football a Big East pipe dream

It's one day later, and yesterday's story about the Big East considering adding Villanova as a football school still does not make a lick of sense with things now going public in a very big way. A decision could be in by the end of the calendar year. Your move, Jim Delany.

As the article itself stated:

Where Villanova would play is an issue. Temple calls Lincoln Financial Field home. Sources said that makes it unlikely Villanova also would play there. Villanova Stadium has a capacity of 12,000, and the prospect of enlarging it apparently is not feasible. The NCAA requires 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for all home games for FBS schools. The attendance requirement must be met in 1 year over a 2-year period.>

Temple fans claim that the lease is "ironclad". What I have been able to find is that the is at $1 million a year running through 2017. That would not be impossible to buy out, but the cost would be prohibitive. The Philadelphia Inquirer today says that Temple is also under consideration, and lays out the rationale for the latest push (and further clarifying the stadium issue).

The Big East would not be interested in both Villanova and Temple, those same college sources said. The Wildcats are at the plate now. The overture to Villanova, the defending FCS national champion, is considered a preventive move in case the Big East loses a member - if the Big Ten comes calling for Rutgers, for instance.

There are other logistical hurdles. The Big East offered confer football membership on UConn and Villanova in 1997, and there is a very good reason that only the Huskies said yes. Villanova is a small private school, with less than 7,000 undergraduates (there were literally thousands more in the Rutgers student section last Thursday night for a FCS opponent). It claims 102,000 living alumni worldwide. In contrast, UConn has over 20,000 undergraduates and 204,500 alumni. For any readers with access to Newsbank or a similar services, check out the initial 1997 articles from the Inquirer or Daily News, which I am unable to access.

Oh yeah, the Huskies also had one other advantage over Villanova: UConn is a state school, which receives strong financial support from the state of Connecticut. The Rent was built on donated land that used to be an airport, but still required a $106 million stadium bond (link is required reading on this subject). Throw in fully funding 85 scholarships, and other facilities upgrades, and this is not going to be a walk in the park by any stretch of the imagination. Considering that the article mentioned that Villanova would likely need additional financial assistance from the Big East, how is this idea not being dismissed as a complete non-starter?

Big East football needs at least one more team to balance out scheduling, but if the concept is also to get better, why add a FCS charity case? As Dan Levy points out, if it is imperative to add a team in Philadelphia, wouldn't it be more realistic to bring back Temple? TU is a much larger school than Nova. They've got a lot of momentum right now, and just beat Villanova last week. Temple gives the Big East flexibility. While it wouldn't be ideal, they could come back as a football-only member and not disrupt the rest of the conference makeup. (By the way, the unnamed Big East official who told Brett McMurphy that having 50 teams wouldn't matter is an idiot.)

Another option is for the eight Big East football schools to add Temple (and possibly a UCF) and sever the league in two, which theoretically should be on the table by now (the following paragraph was written in 2005.)

The 16-school Big East begins play next fall. The group has amended the conference's constitution and agreed to withdrawal and dissolution clauses that allow the group to break up with no penalty after five years. Anyone that leaves before five years is subject to a $5-million withdrawal penalty and must wait 27 months before departing.

Hence, the rumors about the Big East quietly putting out feelers to Atlantic-10 teams in recent months. That scenario definitely puts a fright into the basketball schools though, which goes beyond the prospect of losing meal ticket programs like Syracuse and UConn. If the six (for now) BCS power conferences ever were to secede from the NCAA, the cartel could create their own postseason basketball tournament and lock mid and low majors out of the BCS and March Madness entirely, keeping more of the revenue pie for themselves.

This proposal is a desperate bid by the cronies in Providence to maintain the (completely unworkable) status quo. The Big East leadership has consistently shown a lack of regard for fairness, proportionality, or any semblance of long-term strategy with its slavish devotion to the conference's eight non-football private schools. They have deliberately weighed down and stifled any and all football ambitions, with failure and incompetence at every turn, heading off any potential threats to their sense of entitlement. Rutgers fans can only react with contempt and revulsion at this proposal, growing increasingly desperate in their hopes for deliverance.

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