Late Thursday night the Philadelphia Daily News reported the Big East had invited Villanova to join in football.
Wildcats AD Vince Nicastro confirmed it publicly, while the conference did not deny. There would seem to be no going back on this one.
“The Big East would like, for practical purposes, to add a ninth football team. Having eight teams means each team must schedule five nonconference games, which isn’t always easy. And four of them play only three conference home games each season. Again, not preferable.”
There’s no doubt, the current eight-team set up is unwieldy for all the above reasons. Five non-cons is silly. Only three Big East home games is sillier. And three-way ties atop the conference with 5-2 records is silliest. Four non-cons, four home Big East games and an eight game conference slate makes too much sense.
“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.”
For anyone older than college age, you probably remember the bad old days of Temple in the Big East. Football attendance was a joke. Relevance in Philadelphia was even a bigger joke. The Owls were a drain on the conference more than any other school (and that includes then-DOA Rutgers).
The Big East invoked the attendance clause to boot out TU, but that was really just window dressing. Like your deadbeat, slovenly, degenerate, gambling-addict buddy from high school who also once drunkenly hooked up with your fiancee not getting the invite to the wedding – the “she has a big family” head count excuse was a mere formality. Can a small, private school in the heart of a professional sports city that breathes Eagles football in the fall, battle a plucky Temple football program for its own 15,000 fans on Saturdays? Me thinks not.
“A viable venue is the new PPL Park in Chester, which holds 18,500 for Union soccer games. And there is room for a few thousand portable seats, as well as a potential for more permanent additions. Other possibilities could include Franklin Field, and maybe even Citizens Bank Park (at least in November), now that Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field are being used for college football.”
So the Wildcats are gonna try to play at a soccer stadium for half the season and then a baseball park the final month? This idea has more holes than Groobers’ Michigan slippers.
The simple fact is the Big East is trying to be proactive instead of reactive. In an expansion era where the conference has to watch it’s back like a rabbit in the shadow of a hawk’s nest, the Big East would like to add a 9th school in a major East Coast city for strength. You add Philly as a media market and a buffer school in case the Big 10 rips Rutgers away.
But staving off the Grim Reaper by adding a private, Catholic basketball school in a pro sports town seems to be bullet proof vest in a nuclear war.