Sunday, July 13, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Could Big Ten expansion benefit Temple?

Just a thought.

Could Big Ten expansion benefit Temple?

It's been out there for a few days now that the Big Ten has waded about half a millimeter into the waters of possibly adding another team.

The names I've seen batted around so far are Missouri, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, and Notre Dame. Adding the Fighting Irish would be the holy grail, of course, especially if it would lead to a potential football championship game at Soldier Field.

The Notre Dame situation is pretty self-evident, though that won't stop some people from thinking the move is possible.

Most of the chatter (and Tweeting) I've read rank Missouri and Pittsburgh are the most likely choices. Adding the Tigers would turn the Big Ten into the Big 12 and the Big 12 into an 11-team conference (temporarily), so it wouldn't be much of a move at all.

Adding the Panthers would make sense for geographical reasons, as well as the historical rivalry with Penn State. We know that Joe Paterno would be in favor of it too. Rutgers makes sense because of its proximity to New York, and Syracuse is out there because of its size and New York alumni base - though it wouldn't really capture Manhattan television viewers either.

I've read that if it's Missouri, the Big 12 could go for a school with a strong football pedigree like TCU. That would make sense, especially because the Horned Frogs got shut out of the Big 8/Southwest Conference merger by Texas politicos' preference for Baylor.

What happens if it's one of the Big East schools? That question includes Notre Dame, which is a Big East member in all sports except football. If the conference were to remain at 16 teams for basketball, a new team would have to be added.

So far, the only school I've heard named as a potential replacement is Memphis because of its strength in basketball and history of I-A football. But I can't help wondering if Temple will be in the discussion.

Let me state right now tht I know absolutely no facts about any of this, nor do I expect to learn any soon. But from where I sit, adding the Owls would make sense. They have I-A football, and more importantly play in a big media market. The Liacouras Center is plenty big for conference basketball games, and games against Big East teams would surely draw big crowds.

I know that Villanova blocked Temple from joining the Big East the last time it could have happened. But if the Wildcats really are committed to the Big 5 - and there's no reason to doubt Jay Wright when he says so - making Temple a conference game would make scheduling the City Series round-robin a lot easier.

I also don't think Memphis would be a good fit because of geography. Tennessee is dominated by the SEC, and expanding the Big East's footprint there wouldn't change that. Granted, Memphis is closer to Philadelphia than Tampa-based South Florida. But it's only by a few miles, and the Big East has historical ties to the Sunshine State because of Miami.

Again, this is just me talking. But I'd like to think it's based on some amount of reasoning.

What do you think? Could this really happen? And should it happen? A lot of Big Ten fans think the conference shouldn't expand. It would certainly put a dent in the league's traditions, but those dollar signs on Michigan Avenue are pretty big.

Have at it.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
Stay Connected