Temple Up Next for the Big East? | Zagsblog
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Monday / December 16.
  • Temple Up Next for the Big East?

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    With multiple reports out that West Virginia is close to leaving the Big East for the Big 12, look for the Big East to target Temple next.

    “To me, Temple’s perfect,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino told SNY.tv during a recent interview, before the new about West Virginia broke. “They were already in the Big East. They are an excellent football program right now.

    “And they’re a terrific school scholastically. They fit what we should’ve been doing from the beginning. They should’ve been our No. 1 priority four years ago, Temple, to get them back in. We made a mistake letting them go; they should’ve been our No. 1 priority.”

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that West Virginia had “applied and are accepted” to the Big 12, while the Kansas City Star reported the school is expected to be invited on Wednesday.

    The Big East had no official comment.

    “I learned a long time ago, don’t worry about things you can’t control and I have absolutely no control over that,” West Virginia basketball coach Bob Huggins told SNY.tv last week about realignment issues at Big East Media Day. “It’s hard to go anywhere that people don’t ask you about it.

    “I don’t have any idea. I’m very happy and very proud to be a member of the Big East and hopefully that continues for us.”

    West Virginia’s departure would bring the Big 12 to 10 teams, assuming Missouri goes forward and leaves for the SEC.

    The Big 12 could opt to stay at 10, or stay true to its name and add two more schools. Louisville, Cincinnati and BYU have all been mentioned.

    The Big East would be reduced to five football playing schools in Louisville, Rutgers, UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida.

    Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti issued a somewhat vague and open-ended comment indicating that he believes things will ultimately work out for Rutgers whatever league it ends up in.

    “The landscape in collegiate athletics continues to be a very fluid situation and we continue to be involved in discussions,” he said. “We remain extremely confident that the result once the movement concludes will be very positive for Rutgers University.

    “While there is going to be a period of time between now and then that will cause our constituents and fans a certain level of anxiety, given the unique assets we possess, including our strong and growing academic profile, our AAU status and the location and high level of interest surrounding Rutgers in the nation’s largest television market, we feel confident in the end result for Rutgers.”

    The Big East has targeted Navy, Air Force and Boise State for football only and SMU, UCF and Houston for all sports.

    But since the goal is to bring the Big East to 12 football teams, the league still needs another, and now Temple, or maybe even Villanova or Army, would seem to fit.

    “We’re well aware of the fact that they’re on the board as far as the Big East,” A-10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said of Temple. “And with them having a commitment to FBS football, Temple has to make decisions that really center around that. We don’t have a home to offer them in football, and so we have to sort of wait it out a little bit.

    “But we absolutely would support their football move, but we do not want to lose them in all sports.”

    Villanova reportedly blocked Temple’s admission into the Big East, but now the league may have no choice but to add one of Philadelphia’s football schools.

    “Villanova wants to be in the Big East for football, bottom line,” Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’ve said it. We’ve worked with the Big East on it. We understand the situation in the Big East right now. We have to be loyal members and let the football schools do what’s best.

    “Temple’s got nothing to do with that. Whatever they do with Temple is great. Just put Villanova in for football, that’s all. We’re 30-year members. If they want to put Temple in, great. We have great respect for Temple. We know all the positives that would come if they came in. Just put Villanova in for football, period.”

    Just when it thought it had a plan, the Big East is left searching yet again.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.