As Temple continues its moves toward an on-campus football stadium, here's a discussion the school's hierarchy should have: Would a campus stadium be opening a door Temple wants to keep shut?
Like the rest of the American Athletic Conference, Temple would presumably jump at the chance to join a Power 5 league. That's where the money is.
Right now, Temple isn't just the best option if a Power 5 league wants to add the Philadelphia market. It's the only option. And it's not far-fetched to think the Atlantic Coast Conference might someday want to add a local outpost.
Even if Villanova was interested in such a deal, there is no place for 'Nova to play big-time football.
Unless the Linc is available.
There's no reason to believe this is on Villanova's radar at all. (This idea wasn't fed by some Villanova type.) The new Big East, in case you hadn't noticed, is working pretty well for the Wildcats. But let's say an ACC Network gets up and running. Reports suggest that possibility remains front-burner right now.
Let's say the ACC eventually looks at Philadelphia the same way the Big Ten looked at Rutgers - as customers paying cable bills whether they watch the Big Ten Network or not.
If this market - which would be bigger than any for current full-time ACC members - becomes too good to pass up, then which scenario would intrigue the ACC more: the 2016 NCAA basketball champions playing football at Lincoln Financial Field or Temple playing everything on campus?
That answer isn't so clear.
Villanova may not even want this scenario. But should Temple fear it? School officials should at least discuss it. (Maybe they have.) As designed, its campus stadium would be smaller than any invited ACC newcomers in recent years. Not to say the ACC would expand, but if it does, why wouldn't the league prefer the Linc to a 35,000-seat venue?
Now this might still carry the day for Temple: There's no question that the ACC right now would prefer Temple's football program to Villanova's, given the Owls' recent major on-field progress. No reason to take a Villanova program that has to ramp up to FBS level when Temple is already there and on stable ground in terms of an on-field product. And this would still be a football decision above all.
And if the ACC ever takes Temple, it seems Temple would be best positioned to move into the later 21st century in all sports, better than Villanova.
When it comes to fan bases, however, nothing is cut and dry. Villanova fills the Wells Fargo Center for big-time hoops games. Would that translate to football?
Let's throw some buckets of water on the idea that the Big 12 is interested in Temple or Philadelphia. A story out of the Big 12 last year said Temple was mentioned in a conversation. But there have been a lot of more recent conversations, and Temple's name doesn't seem to come up in any of them. Mentioned and discussed in depth are two different things. Although common sense isn't the operative phrase when it comes to league realignment, Philadelphia makes little sense as a Big 12 market. (There is no Big 12 Network that could charge local households.)
The ACC, on the other hand, makes perfect sense, and right now Temple would be the target, period.
Could the ACC live with most games being on campus and then a couple of Temple ACC games at the Linc? Maybe, but wouldn't that defeat the purpose of building a stadium? (And would the Eagles even go for it?)
No answers here, just bringing up questions. This seems like an important one.