Reported By: Matthew Nadu
It’s no secret that the major college sports conferences have gone through major reconstruction the past few weeks. Powerhouse conferences like the ACC, SEC and Pac-12 have have bulked up on the beasts of formally indestructible conferences leaving their futures in jeopardy.
In the middle of all the ruckus is Temple University. Here’s Nadu’s Top 9 reasons the Owls should swoop into a top conference.
9. Timing: There’s never been a better opportunity for Temple to bust into a major conference. Let’s face it, with the ACC taking at least Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East, it’s obvious they’re both making major moves. Thus making the Owls prime to make a legitimate submission for consideration to either conference.
8. Location: The ACC is officially the Super Conference of the East Coast. With the additions of former Big East teams Syracuse and Pittsburgh, the ACC has a dominate balance of basketball and football programs and should control most of the television rights in the region. Stretching from New York to Florida there is a major gap with Philadelphia right in the middle. Reports have surfaced the that the Owls applied to the ACC but so did Rutgers. In the end, Temple has better all around programs than the Scarlett Knights thus improving their chances to possibly slip into the ACC.
7. Recruiting: Philadelphia is a recruiting hot spot. From the surrounding regions’ prep teams to the vibrant inner city basketball development, top conferences such as the Big East and the ACC have been vying for control of Philadelphia’s athletic crop for years. NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship teams have been building around Philadelphia talent including Strawberry Mansion’s Rasheed Wallace en route to a North Carolina NCAA title in the ’90′s and local prep player Hakim Warrick leading Syracuse a 2003 NCAA Championship. It was because of the rich talent in the area that coaches like Fran Dunphy and Al Golden turned Temple basketball and football programs from laughing stocks to bargaining stock.
6. History: Joining the Big East would be nothing new for the Owls. From 1991-2004 Temple was a football only member of the conference. Going 14-80, the Owls couldn’t compete with more lucrative programs and was forced to join the Mid Atlantic Conference for football in 2005. But that’s in the past and with the Big East shaken by lack of balanced basketball/football programs, the Owls would help stabilize a conference that could cease to exist.
5. Football: Here’s were Temple has the edge over Villanova for total submission into the Big East or Rutgers University in the ACC. After Saturday’s epic battle against inner-state rival Penn State University, the Owls showed both the ACC and the Big East that they could maintain an audience and a Top-25 team on national television. Although the Owls lost 14-10 in the final minutes, they’re still 2-1 on the season under new head coach Steve Addazio, the former two-year offensive coordinator at the University of Florida. Addazio, who coached Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, is following in the footsteps of now University of Miami head coach Al Golden by continuing to put Temple football on the map. Golden who came to Temple in 2005, build the program around stifling defenses leading the Owls to their first bowl game in 30 years. The Owls are looking at their third straight winning season in 2011-2012, which could look tempting to the Big East who’s in desperate need of quality football programs since the departure of Pitt and ‘Cuse. Despite going 8-4 during the 2010-2011 season, the Owls were snubbed a bowl bid. Of amongst those eight wins, was a dominate victory against Big East foe and BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl participant the University of Connecticut.
4. Basketball: There’s no secret here, Temple is one of the most successful programs in college basketball history, ranking 6th all-time in wins with 1766, trailing only Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Duke, and Syracuse (3 of those five are in the ACC.) With it’s rich tradition, success and recruiting dominance in the Philadelphia area, the Owls are prime to make a move to the Big East because of their hoops alone. Talks are rising that the Big East could either fold or turn into a basketball only conference. In that case Temple would still be a prime candidate considering their always demanding non-conference schedule, which features annual showdowns with the best the ACC and Big East have to offer including Duke University and fellow Big-5 foe Villanova. Temple basketball is currently in the Atlantic 10 where they have shown pure dominance since 2008 under Dunphy winning three straight A-10 Tournament Championships while appearing in four straight NCAA Tournaments. While men’s sports produce all the money for a university and conference, the lady Owls have been dominant as well with nine NCAA Appearances and six A-10 Championships. Philly is a basketball city. No major conference can overlook that or the recruiting hold Temple has on the region.
3. Uncertainty: For the most part the ACC is set. They have great balance of football and basketball. The Big East on the other hand is a mess. More talks include Louisville, Notre Dame, UConn and Rutgers leaving the conference which could lead to the end of the Big East as we know it. One suggestion is that the Big East becomes a basketball only conference. In this case Villanova has a slight edge over Temple and could pull more recruits from the Owls. But the Owls have shown that they can hang with the best the powerhouse conferences have to offer. Will it be enough for the Owls to get an invitation?
2. Money: Money. Money. Money. The Philadelphia region has plenty of money, with their rich major sports franchises and high market value. Fan viewership is off the charts but will it translate to college sports? Villanova of the Big East, has the market dominance in basketball due to their national exposure which improves their ability to attract players. Perks like Madison Square Garden hosting the Big East Conference Tournament is a nice touch too. But football brings in the big bucks and here’s where Temple reigns supreme. The Owls are already a Division I football program and with their recent ability to attract high profile coaches and recruits they have greatly increased their chances of joining a major conference. Realistically, if Temple ends up moving to a powerhouse conference the Big East would be the obvious choice. The Owls fit both the basketball and football criteria and they have a major advantage over other possible universities such as St. Louis because of the Liacouras Center and of course the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field. Football is the deciding factor because of its ability to draw money for the conference. Considering the city, the market, potential viewership, The Linc and of course the desperation of the conference, Temple deserves to become a part of the Big East.
1. Hall and Oates: Come on, they’re the ultimate soft rock band and former Owls. Maybe their 1981 hit “Kiss is On My List” will help get Temple on the list of powerhouse conference hopefuls. Let’s just hope they’re not Rod Stewart fans.
Follow Matthew Nadu on twitter @matthewnadu