Posted by Chip Patterson
July 1 marked the first day in the house for recent conference jumpers like Utah and Nebraska. As the conferences continue to realign, eyes continue to turn to the 8-team Big East. With TCU arriving in 2012 and the negotiation of a new media deal on the horizon, it is assumed that the conference will be making more moves in the near future to increase membership. Jason Brewer, of SB Nation Philly, pulled together some interesting quotes from Temple recruits that suggest the Owls rumored move back into the Big East could come as soon as after this season.
First came quotes earlier from Temple Football Forever, which included TE Tanner Kearns sharing his excitement for the potential to play in Lincoln Financial Field and "knows" the Owls "plan on moving to the Big East soon." The father of Temple commit CB Tavon Young took it a step further, stating his son will be close to home and "in the Big East in 2012." Add those quotes to the recent statements from LB Michael Kalaman and TE Jameson McShea and you've got to assume that there there is something going on behind the scenes in Philadelphia.
Temple spent 14 years in the Big East before their departure in the exodus of 2003-2004. Since then current Miami head coach Al Golden worked to rebuild the program from within the MAC, bringing the Owls their first postseason appearance in 30 years in 2009. After his departure to the Hurricanes, the hiring of Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has helped continue the momentum that Golden started in Philadelphia.
But Temple is not the only team that has been discussed in possible Big East expansion. The conference nearly gave one bid away to Villanova before discussions took a turn in another direction, many believe that UCF is a football powerhouse in the making that could benefit the conference geographic balance, and recently the addition of Army and Navy has been discussed. I doubt that Temple's staff would be outright lying to recruits, so they at least have some reason to believe that Temple's invitation to the BCS ranks could be coming in time to join along with TCU.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto told CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphy that there is no "best model" for Big East expansion, but there is certainly an end date. By September 2012, the conference needs to be set in their membership in order to capitalize on the negotiation of a new media deal when their current one with ESPN expires. ESPN has already made moves to try and begin those talks, but the conference still has some moves to make before they are comfortable presenting their future product. Temple's potential addition would bring the conference to ten teams heading into the 2012 season, but what would that mean for their Philadelphia brethren Villanova? The Wildcats, already a member of the conference in every sport but football and women's lacrosse, would be one of the easier additions logistically. If the Big East brings in both schools to the football conference, that leaves only one spot left to finish with the magical 12-team count needed to hold a conference championship game. With UCF, Army, Navy, Houston, and East Carolina all likely interested in making the jump, someone is going to get left out. Again.
With all of the other five conferences securing new media deals in the last couple years, the Big East gets to be the prettiest girl at the dance for the next several months. Sure, the schools left aren't exactly the lighting up the BCS standings (only UCF and Houston have ever been ranked); but there is still a lot of potential value for a conference looking to make a statement on the national scene.