Temple on the Verge of Rejoining Big East, Would Be Cincinnati Opponent Number 11


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Brett McMurphy at CBS Sports is on the forefront of all things Big East related. By and large if he reports something odds are they true or will come to fruition in the near future. Now he is stating that Temple is a but a couple signatures on the dotted line away from rejoining the Big East in all sports. According to a source close to McMurphy the announcement could come as early as next week. Temple was once a full member of the Big East before being booted by the conference after the 2004 season. At the time, the Owls’ football program was in a state of disrepair and according to the Big East wasn’t worthy of membership in an AQ conference any longer. Since that wake up call, Temple has gotten serious about their athletics and made all the right moves to climb out of the gutter. The hiring of head football coach Al Golden was a catalyst to regaining respectability. They joined the MAC and while never winning a conference championship were consistently one of the best rushing teams in the country with a defense that was none too shabby, either. Obviously Al Golden had turned the program around.

Now with conference realignment in full swing, Temple has become a prime expansion candidate. At first, Temple was eyeing an invitation in the hybrid Moutain West-Conference USA that is expected to form beginning in the 2013 season. TCU, Boise State, and San Diego State’s departure from the Mountain West as well as Houston, SMU, and UCF’s departure from C-USA left both conferences scrambling for options. A merger seemed like the right move, which it is, and Temple wanted to get in on the action. But, with the Big East in hopes of adding to it’s media market inventory, Temple’s location in Philadelphia seemed ideal despite Villanova having a presence there. In all likelihood, if the Big East extends an invite especially to join in 2012, Temple will jump all over it and become the conference’s 13th team when all of the invitees join in the coming years.

Looking at it on a local level, this is great news for Cincinnati! The Owls will likely slide into the spot on the schedule vacated by the West Virginia Mountaineers when they up and left for the Big 12. Temple will be UC’s third away game of the 2012 season in addition to Louisville and UConn. It’s unclear exactly when the Bearcats would travel to Philly but just the fact that the Big East was able to replace WVU is a good thing. So as it stands right now Cincinnati’s Big East scheduled has been restored with seven conference games. The only downside to this move is that the Big East will now be heavy in the East with UConn, Rutgers, South Florida, Central Florida, Navy and now Temple in the conference. Theoretically, this would move UC into the West Division with Louisville, Memphis, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, and Boise State. It’s not a certainty but there is a high possibility of Cincinnati making the most travel of any Big East team outside of the Aztecs and Broncos. Overall, road trips to the East coast are much more doable than trips out West.

Finally, even though Temple will round out the Big East schedule, UC is still looking for a 12th school and there are two options open to the Bearcats:

1. Add some non-Big East opponent, preferably not another FCS school since Delaware State is already on the schedule.

2. Wait and see if the Big East gets Boise State, Memphis, etc. to join as the conference’s 9th school a year earlier than planned. This news about Temple makes me think that this option is out the window but John Marinatto just might able to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Whoever the 12th team may be, adding Temple is the right move for the Big East and the Owls should be welcomed with open arms by Bearcat fans. Look for my history on UC-Temple in the coming weeks.