Tag:Big East expansion
Posted on: April 11, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: April 11, 2011 5:34 pm
 

Villanova's Big East decision delayed [UPDATED]

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Big East has been waiting for Villanova to make a decision on whether or not it would be joining the conference as its tenth football member, and it looks like the conference will need to wait a few more months. Villanova's Board of Trustees have spent the last couple of days discussing the subject, and though the school was expected to make its announcement on Tuesday, it released a statement on Monday morning saying that no such decision will be coming.

Though the delay seems to be more the Big East's doing than Villanova's.

"Villanova recently learned that the Big East Conference needs more time to do its due diligence regarding Villanova’s potential football membership," the university said in a statement. "Villanova is now working with the Big East to provide whatever additional information we can. It is the university’s desire that in the near future its Board of Trustees will proceed with the vote as planned."

Considering that the statement says the Big East needs more time, and that the school wants to proceed with its vote as planned, I'm inclined to believe that means Villanova wants to make the jump, and the Big East may be having some second thoughts. Again, that's just pure speculation on my part from an attempt to read between the lines.

While the schools concern over making the jump from the FCS to the FBS level is no doubt financial, the Big East is likely concerned with where Villanova would play its home games. At the moment the leader in the clubhouse for Villanova home games would be PPL Park in Chester, but the stadium as presently constructed holds only 18,000 fans. That would make PPL Park the smallest stadium in the Big East by far, with only Idaho and FIU having smaller stadiums in the FBS.

Of course, PPL Park does not have to be a long-term solution. It is possible that Villanova could move into Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles, after the 2017 season, when Temple's lease expires.

Odds are that, even with concerns, the Big East will try to do everything it can to make this Villanova move work. While the conference wants to add a tenth member to the conference, it would also prefer not to add another school to a basketball conference that will already claim 17 teams once TCU makes the move next year.

Though if the conference decides Villanova is not a viable option, or Villanova ultimately decides against the move, that would mean Central Florida, Houston and Memphis would once again be in play.

[UPDATE, 5:30 pm: Big East commissioner John Marinatto has just released a statement on the matter. It is reprinted in full below.]

“The Big East Conference and Villanova University have worked closely with each other over the past several months regarding potential football membership. We will continue with our due diligence process and work with Villanova to continue to share relevant information and materials. The Big East Conference obviously very much values its long-standing relationship with Villanova and we are committed to continuing to work with them on this matter in an open and forthright manner. Until there is additional information to report, the conference plans no further comment.”

Posted on: March 8, 2011 3:47 pm
 

MWC in the right despite Patterson schedule gripe

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As we mentioned in our TCU Spring Primer yesterday , the impending divorce between the Horned Frogs and the Mountain West isn't going to be the amicable type. The conference has responded to TCU's defection to the Big East by inflicting various 2011 schedule-related indignities on the Frogs, including switching their home date against Boise State to a road trip and ignoring TCU's request for a Sept. 10 bye week in favor of a trip to Air Force.

Though Gary Patterson hasn't ever been the sort of coach to rant and rave about forces outside of his control -- see his subdued reaction to the BCS championship conversation excluding his undefeated Frogs each of the past two seasons -- his recent comments have made it clear that he is not pleased with the way his team has been treated:
The schedule stinks.

But nobody at TCU seems all that surprised.

Humored, maybe, as football coach Gary Patterson described himself. Or peeved, as some inside the athletic offices put it ...

"I realize a lot of this is dictated by TV," Patterson said, as spring drills prepared to begin last week. "But if the league said we could have one scheduling request, why didn’t we get it? I’m wondering who else had their requests ignored."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton called the scheduling decisions "bush league" this week, writing that "I thought the league was classier than that."

Certainly, the conference's treatment of TCU isn't entirely "sporting" or "gentlemanly." But there's not much sporting or gentlemanly about the entire BCS system, one that virtually guarantees that a team like the Frogs will abandon the MWC for the greener pastures of an automatic BCS bid at the very first opportunity.

More Mountain West

For the MWC to be able to fend off any future suitors for their new flagship program at Boise -- particularly in light of the fellow defections from Utah and BYU -- they'll almost certainly have to be awarded that bid as soon as possible, and if they can snag a more lucrative television contract along the way, so much the better. Playing nice with TCU does nothing to help the MWC accomplish either of those goals; a Boise win over the Frogs, for instance, counts torwards the numbers in the league's bid application and damages the standing of the conference most likely to have its bid stripped.

Even from a simple perception standpoint, it's worth it to the MWC to saddle TCU with as many obstacles as possible. If the Frogs wipe the floor with the league on their way out, there won't be any hiding from the fact that the conference may have been irreperably damaged goods. If they lose two or three conference games and watch Boise or even San Diego State ascend to the league's top ladder ... well, which one of these scenarios do you think represents the stronger position for the MWC when it comes time to negotiate that next TV contract?

It would be great if everyone in the conference expansion wars played nice and got along and sat down for tea. But the real-world demands of the BCS and its millions means that's a chump's game. You can't blame TCU for feeling aggrieved, but you also can't blame the MWC for refusing to play it.


Posted on: March 3, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Report: Villanova football close to Big East deal

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Over the last year or so, the Big East has been courting I-AA football power (and current Big East basketball power) Villanova to bump its program to I-A and strengthen the Big East's numbers from within. With TCU set to join the conference in 2012, a Villanova addition would push the conference up to 10 football teams. 10 is good. It's certainly better than eight.

Now, we've noted before that Big East commissioner John Marinatto wasn't going to "sit around and wait" for Villanova to make a decision on moving up a subdivision or not, but sometime between late January and now, Marinatto decided to do precisely that, because as the Sporting News reports, Villanova is coming close to accepting the Big East's offer and joining the big boys in football:

A Big East source told Sporting News that Villanova is the “clear leader” in the conference’s goal of expanding to 10 teams, but that the university still is trying to complete a revenue plan of $25-30 million in startup costs.

Villanova announced it would have a decision by April, but the process could be moving along faster than expected. VUhoops.com reported last week that members of the athletic administration held a meeting for “major boosters” at the Syracuse basketball game.

This would probably be a solid move for Villanova; not every school that has jumped to I-A has met immediate success, but 'Nova would have the built-in luxury of money coming in from the Big East's BCS deal, the Big East's TV deal, and healthy visiting ticket sales. Again, it's still up to the Wildcats to get good at football and keep their fans interested for the long haul, but that's a definite possibility, and one that could bring a significant payoff to Villanova's athletic department.

The fundraising comes first, though, and every week that passes without Villanova having the cash for those daunting startup costs is another week that Marinatto has to "sit around and wait" and wonder whether the fanbase is really there for Villanova. The Big East is hardly a titan of fan support, as BCS conferences go, but if Villanova and its fans can't afford the move up, they can't afford it, and Marinatto will have to look elsewhere for his expansion.

Still, Villanova wouldn't be trying to raise the funds if it didn't think it had a good chance to accomplish the task, and we could see a 10-team Big East in 2012. If so, the question facing the conference changes to a no-less-important, but happier one: nine-game round robin conference schedule, right? Don't let college football down on that front, Mr. Marinatto.

Posted on: February 9, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Why FBS, 'Nova? So your backup QB can go viral

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Villanova has a decision to make: accept the Big East's offer to upgrade their 2009 national championship FCS program and become the league's 11th football member, or remain in the conference in all sports outside of football and continue to compete for Colonial Athletic Association titles in the division formerly known as I-AA. So what better way to educate the 'Nova-affiliated masses on the pros and cons of that decision than a flash-video presentation on YouTube?
 


Yes, it's on the dry side, but it's also interesting -- from our usual rabid football fan perspective -- to see an issue usually simplified to "well, do you want to really play college football, or don't you?" laid out in such a calm, nuts-and-bolts fashion. (If you don't have seven minutes to spend, I'll sum up: FBS football would offer 'Nova a lot of notoriety. But it would also cost the school lot of money, especially in terms of facilities 'Nova would have to build almost from scratch.)

Of course, what the video above doesn't mention is the many unforeseen, intangible benefits to joining FBS. Take fellow Big East member UConn, for instance; if the Huskies were still fooling around in the FCS, would anyone have noticed this video (which has been plastered all over the Internet today) of third-string quarterback Johnny McEntee performing what's essentially the football version of the McDonald's Bird-vs.-Jordan H.O.R.S.E. contest?



Of course not. It's definitely something else to think about, Villanova decision-makers.

HT on 'Nova video: The Collision Course .

Posted on: January 27, 2011 1:11 pm
 

USF denies UCF accusations, kinda sorta

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

An Orlando Sentinel column published yesterday included a statement from a UCF spokesperson claiming that the Knights were "hearing" that fellow in-state up-and-comer USF was moving to block UCF's potential invitation from the Big East. While there would obviously be a lot of incentives for the Bulls to maneuver to keep their Orlando neighbors off of the BCS gravy train (the brutal Florida recruiting battles foremost among them), the statement made clear that UCF wouldn't be real thrilled with their former annual rivals should their politicking keep them from a move to the college football's big(ger) leagues.

But according to a USF statement issued last night to AOL Fanhouse , USF president Judy Genshaft isn't concerned with UCF any more than she is any school who the Big East might be considering. They say:
"Judy has always been clear that she doesn't discuss Big East board votes in advance and in public -- and the Big East insists that its commissioner (John Marinatto) is the only spokesperson," USF vice president of communications Michael Hoad wrote in an e-mail to FanHouse. "There's no reason for her to announce support or opposition to any school in advance of meetings.

"Bottom line: USF itself has no 'position' on Big East expansion. When there's a decision, she'll vote just like everyone else. However, she is clear that she'll vote for the best interests of the Big East, not for any university."
In other words: if UCF is the best candidate for the Big East, USF will support it. If not, they won't. The interests of the Big East will outweigh the interests of the Bulls.

Of course, USF and Genshaft will be free to make that distinction themselves, free to determine exactly how those interests are best served. If they feel that Northwest Washington State is a better option for Big East expansion (or, more to the point, Villanova or Memphis or some similar school) than UCF, there won't be anything stopping them.

So the statement doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. But it is a sign, nonetheless, that USF is taking the political talk seriously ... and that they won't appreciate being portrayed as the villains if the Big East ultimately decides to look someplace other than UCF.

Posted on: December 16, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Villanova deciding on Big East football in April

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's long been an open secret that after TCU joined the Big East as the conference's ninth football member, the league's top choice for a 10th member was original member in all-other-sports Villanova.

But how committed is the conference to that choice?  Based on the timetable established today in an open letter from President Father Peter Donahue, committed enough that they're unfazed by that timetable coming with something of a sticker shock (emphasis added):
  • January 2011: Continued community meetings, stakeholder dialogue, and research and analyses
  • February 2011: Board of Trustees meeting; discussion of research findings to-date
  • March 2011: Assessment of remaining research findings
  • April 2011 : Board of Trustees meeting; discussion of outstanding items; Board decision
  • That's right: even with an open invitation on the table that an awful lot of schools would rename their biology buildings "Big East Hall" for, the Wildcats won't come to a final decision for another four months.

    So why is 'Nova permitted to take its time when so many other conference alignment decisions in the past year's reshuffling have been made on the fly? Because while the leap from FCS directly into a BCS league wouldn't be easy for any program, there's several reasons to think the Wildcats can make it work: a well-established championship program at the FCS level; an administration with a history of overseeing and supporting successful athletics programs; and maybe most key of all, their location squarely in the middle of a major Eastern metropolitan area without a prominent college football team to follow. (No, Temple doesn't count.) If UConn can become a viable BCS-level program, there's zero reason to think 'Nova can't.

    As long as 'Nova offers the league the chance to add that kind of football program without burdening the already badly-overstuffed basketball collective and bring Philadephia into the fold in the process, the conference -- apparently -- will be willing to wait.
    Posted on: November 30, 2010 7:26 pm
    Edited on: November 30, 2010 7:32 pm
     

    Self: Big East was set to take Kansas, others

    Posted by Adam Jacobi

    At the height of conference realignment talks last year, there was real concern that Texas (and most of the other Big XII South schools) would flee the conference for -- pardon the pun -- greener pastures, leaving the schools up north wondering what their next move would be. Six conference members doth not a viable conference make, after all, and there was real concern that schools like Iowa State or Kansas State would have to suffer the indignity of joining a non-AQ conference.

    Fortunately, as Kansas basketball coach Bill Self told listeners on his weekly radio show yesterday, his Jayhawks' AQ status was never in doubt -- and nor was that of Missouri, KSU, and ISU. When asked about TCU and its move to the Big East, Self said that if the Big 12 folded, those schools would have been offered a spot in the Big East. And further, Self thinks the Big East was smart to make those offers, because it was the only way to ensure the Big Ten doesn't kill the Big East's football program.

    Audio, courtesy of the IMG Jayhawk Network, is below. Those interested in the full show may listen through Jayhawks All-Access ($$).

    If you can't listen, here's the full text of Self's statement, with minor alterations for clarity's sake:

    To be honest with you, Kansas could have been making the same announcement today that TCU made. And Kansas State could have been in there too, because the feeling that we got -- or we had, when the conference realignment was going on, that if by chance, Texas would have gone to the Pac-10 and we would have stayed buddies with Kansas State and not separated and done all that stuff, then the Big East would have came and gotten us, and KSU, and Iowa State, and Missouri. Which, in theory, you say, 'Oh god, the Big East, bad travel.' They would have gone to divisions, so we would have had divisions with probably the teams that are close, and maybe Louisville and Cincinnati or whatever.

    And I think that's smart on the Big East's part, because the Big Ten's still going to go poach somebody, and when they poach somebody it's going to be a football-playing school, and if that number goes beneath eight, then I believe -- I could be wrong -- but I believe then they're not eligible for the BCS bid. So they're covering themselves to make sure that whenever the Big Ten does whatever they do, they'll still have enough football-playing schools to make sure that they keep their BCS football bid alive. So I think it's a smart move, and probably great for TCU, so I see no problems with it.

    Although there had been rumors to this extent back in the spring and summer, this is the first time that a school official has not only addressed the rumor that the Big East was set to invite the wayward Big 12 North schools, but out-and-out confirmed it. And as Self mentioned, with the Big Ten purportedly sniffing around for expansion targets out east, the Big East needed to either go into buyer mode or prepare to get out of the business of football altogether. While some college football fans might have preferred the latter, the Big East would have lost an automatic qualifier bid and all the money it entails, so that was never really going to happen.

    And above all else, this should at least reassure fans of those four schools that even if the Big 12 had folded, the day that ISU or Missouri would have had to share a conference with Wyoming or Middle Tennessee State was never really going to happen; there had always been another BCS conference waiting, and there probably still will be if this latest iteration of the Big 12 doesn't work over the next few years. The arms race probably isn't over yet.



    Posted on: November 29, 2010 4:53 pm
     

    Thanks TCU: Mountain West BCS bid may not be dead

    Posted by Jerry Hinnen

    The idea of an athletics program from deep in the football-obsessed heart of Texas playing in a basketball-driven conference centered in the Northeast megalopolis seems weird enough. But what might be even weirder about TCU 's move to the Big East is that their current undefeated season will help both their new league hold onto their BCS automatic bid ... and their former conference home in the Mountain West in their effort to do the same. The New York Times ' Pete Thamel explains :
    The Big East is locked into the B.C.S. through the 2013 season, as it is included in the television and bowl contracts. The automatic qualification criteria for the B.C.S. after 2014 have not been determined. If the Big East were subject to a review of its part performance, T.C.U.’s 2010 season would count for the Big East in that review.

    Here is where things get bizarre. T.C.U.’s 2010 regular season will also go toward the Mountain West’s bid toward gaining automatic qualification status for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, which will be evaluated in December 2011 ...

    The cycles overlap because the conferences created a new evaluation period to coincide with the television contract. To do that, they overlap for two years, according to the B.C.S. executive director, Bill Hancock.
    With the Horned Frogs safely in the fold, barring a total collapse on their part and a total failure on the part of the rest of the league to improve on their dreadful 2010 (remember that Cincinnati went undefeated as recently as last season) it seems unlikely the Big East will be in any real danger of losing their automatic bid.

    The bigger question is what happens with the Mountain West, who has been derided in many corners today as a glorified WAC 2.0 after gaining Boise State , Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii but losing bellwethers Utah , TCU, and BYU . Thanks to the overlap in evaluation periods, however, the league appears to have a fighting chance at getting their long-awaited auto-bid after all. The combination of TCU's (as well as Utah's) excellent 2010 seasons combined with Boise's three-year 36-2 run back to 2008 (which Thamel explains will also count in the MWC's calculations) should give them a solid foundation. The new-look MWC middle class of rapidly-improving San Diego State , Air Force , and the three other WAC refugees will, at the least, be a substantial upgrade on the middle class of the old WAC and maybe even the current MWC if the Aztecs, Wolf Pack, and Warriors can build on their current success.

    Will that be enough? It's probably still too early to say. But it's also too early to say, as many have in the wake of TCU's decision, that the MWC's dream of ascending to the ranks of the automatic qualifying conferences is dead just yet.

     
     
     
     
    The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com