It’s official: the Big East athletic directors, school presidents and everyone else involved in the conference have agreed that it is in the conference’s best interests to move from 8 to 10 teams in football. Or, in their own words: “Today, our Board of Directors affirmed a set of key strategic initiatives, including expansion, designed to enhance membership stability and maximize our value.” So who will be the lucky two teams do you think?
The first one is obvious. The Big East has asked Villanova if they have any interest in moving up from the FCS (where they dominate by the way) to the FBS. What most people don’t know is that the Big East is actually a conference with 16 members; it’s just that only 8 have FBS football programs, with the exception of Notre Dame. So what would the Big East prefer? Obviously they would like Notre Dame to play football in the conference and upgrade Villanova. But will it happen?
Absolutely not. Notre Dame will never, I repeat, will never change their independent status. They make boat loads of money with their TV contract with NBC. There is no reason to stop. Plus they have a sweetheart deal to the BCS. I’m sure the Big East would love to have them in football, but it’s never going to happen.
Villanova moving up is certainly a possibility. There’s one problem- the process. For an FCS team to move to the FBS there are several requirements. First, they have to play half their games against FBS teams. Right now, they played one FBS team this year, Temple. They need to play 6 FBS teams I believe, and 4 of those games have to be at home if I’m not mistaken. Anyone who knows football scheduling knows that will take some time to do, although the Big East would obviously volunteer its schools to facilitate the process.
Then there’s attendance. Villanova is right on the cusp year in and year out. You have to average 15,000 per home game for two consecutive seasons to move up. If they can fill the stadium they can do that. Then there’s the nitpicky stuff like scholarships and other varsity sports. Let’s put it this way- if Villanova wants to move into the FBS, it’s not happening until the 2014 season at the earliest.
So who would be other candidates? First of all, the Big East would have to drop 2 schools because an 18 team league in basketball is just crazy. Candidates for that are obviously De Paul, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall and St. Johns. These schools only contribute in all reality to basketball, and some hardly do that. So the Big East would likely be dropping two of them to make room for some programs that not just help basketball but bring an FBS football program with them.
Top of the list? Memphis. They have practically been begging to get into the Big East for years. Their basketball program has been fantastic, their football is, well, worse than their basketball. In fact, their basketball team could probably beat their football team in football. But that doesn’t matter, the Big East is known for basketball, and getting a good program in there is a priority. Any FBS team will do. Look at Memphis to go first.
Who goes second? Former Big East football member Temple might make a comeback. We’ll see, but I think with a currently ranked basketball team and upward trending football program, the Owls could return to the Big East.
What do you think will happen?