By Mike Jensen
Inquirer Staff Writer
On a telephone conference call Monday, Big East presidents authorized the league to "engage in formal discussions with additional institutions" and announced the league is "considering moving to a model that includes 12 football-playing schools," Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement.
That model could include Villanova and Temple both playing Big East football and possibly being in the league together for all sports, according to league sources.
Getting to 12 schools could be tricky since the Big East may lose more members this week, with Louisville and West Virginia among the possibilities to join the Big 12.
The Boston Globe reported Sunday that Boise State has been discussed as a football-only Big East member. Meanwhile, Air Force athletic director Hans Mueh told the Denver Post Saturday, “Our interest is high in the Big East. That's fair to say. This stuff is moving fast."
The Air Force stance may be the most significant development because the Big East desperately needed one of its targets to show real interest, to show the league can remain viable. If Air Force is interested in joining for football only, moving its other sports from the Mountain West to the Missouri Valley, then Navy presumably will be more comfortable making the move. Army, another Big East football-only target, so far has expressed reluctance.
Other possible Big East targets include Central Florida and East Carolina. Even if Boise State doesn’t sign on, Air Force joining could signal the continued existence of Big East football. Big East sources have indicated that Temple has remained in discussions under all scenarios, with football-only and all sports remaining on the table. Adding these schools also could be the move Villanova needs to commit to Big East football, which has been part of these discussions in recent days, sources indicated.
Raising the exit fee from $5 million to possibly double was reported to be high on the agenda of Monday's Big East call.
Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489, firstname.lastname@example.org , or @Jensenoffcampus on Twitter. Read his “Off Campus’’ columns at www.philly.com/offcampus.