Next year, 2014,will mark 20 years since I graduated from Villanova. It does not seem like that long ago. I still care deeply about Villanova basketball. I have since my brother was attending school there beginning in the Fall of 1983.
I still have a close group of friends from my college days. We go on a baseball stadium trip every summer to get together, reminisce, and to honor one of us who is no longer with us. We have our own Fantasy Football league. My team is the Newtown Squares, named after the town where five of us rented a run down two story home that doubled as our fraternity house junior year.
We all still follow Nova hoops. Some follow as closely as when we were students. Some not so much. You know, wives, jobs, kids, mortgages. Those things take up a large portion of our time these days. Although I don't feel like I am getting older, that previous sentence confirms it.
Villanova's recent success in The Battle 4 Atlantis took over our Monday email exchange, usually reserved for Fantasy Football. We discussed organizing at trip to see this year's Wildcats play.
One of my buddies from Connecticut noted that since UCONN is no longer in the Big East, Providence is the only local chance he has to see Villanova play in New England.
This got me thinking.
Is the Big East under serving the East Coast?
What markets could be tapped at a later date?
Is a 12 team league possible?
Let's look at the New England area. The Big East Conference has always had a large presence in New England. Boston College, Providence and Connecticut were founding members. The first Big East Tournament was at the Providence Civic Center in 1980. Only Providence is still a Big East team.
Providence is in New England, but is it in the Boston television market?
What schools could be considered?
Boston University- Not enough basketball tradition.
Holy Cross- Rich basketball tradition. Although nothing really since the Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn days. Besides Bill Simmons being excited about his alma mater now in a major athletic conference, I don't really see this as a fit.
UMass- Rich basketball tradition. Dr. J and the 1990's Calipari teams. Coach Derek Kellogg is looking to bring the team back to prominence. UMass is a Top 25 team in the most recent AP ranking. UMass could be a school for possible expansion in the future.
Another city that comes to mind is Pittsburgh. Since Pitt left for the ACC, Villanova is the only Big East team in Pennsylvania. Duquesne would fit the Pittsburgh TV market but does not have the basketball tradition or facilities that the three new additions to the conference have.
One last city I considered is Philadelphia. Before the Big East broke up, Temple was coming as a full member. It is well known that Villanova was not happy about this addition. But what's about adding St. Joseph's?
- The Holy War could be a part of Rivalry Week, or whatever Fox Sports 1 will call a week of programming signature games in late February.
-That game could be played at Wells Fargo Center, with 8,500 tickets for each school.
- As a conference game, it could bring an added intensity to the rivalry.
St. Joseph's could be a consideration down the line.
The Catholic 7 did a great job by adding schools that for the most part are like themselves to form this new conference. Addition may be something to look at in the future. For now, let's see how the new Big East plays out with its 10 team basketball league. If nothing else, expansion is a good topic for sports talk radio.
Lastly by adding St. Joe's, it would give Villanova an additional chance to beat up on the Hawks every year.