With an undefeated hoops team in December we are rightfully focused on Big 5 play. Our next opponent is already dead, however, so here’s some forward looking banter so we don’t lose sight of the big picture.
We have a few key strategic issues that have hung over us, some for a few decades.
Hoops: The Dump [© C. Lane] needs to be replaced with a 12,000 seat on campus arena. The Big East is redefining itself and finding its way as either a power conference or a high mid major.
Football: We need a future plan. On campus game day sucks. There is low interest in FCS football. FCS status limits our future options. The CAA is in decline. Many former FCS foes are FBS upwardly mobile while we stagnate.
For there to be a plan, maybe there first needs to be a dream. So dream big. Or at least dream bigger. Or at least dream something.
The Big East could stay 10 teams. The full round robin schedule is attractive and there is a nice core of programs. IF we expand, and there is some talk of expansion, then we need to expand at the top of the conference. We don’t need more mid majors just for the sake of numbers.
Dreaming big, the Big East adds UConn and Kansas. Crazy, right? The AAC and the Big 12 are the shakiest of the power conferences. UConn and Kansas are FBS schools and they aren’t dropping back to FCS. Nor should they. The Big East is a "Basketball First" conference, not a "Basketball Only" conference. UConn and Kansas are Basketball First programs. But what about a home for their football programs? We’ll get to that.
I would love the satisfaction of landing Kansas from the Big 12. A nice swap for WVU. UConn and Kansas added to Georgetown, Nova, and Marquette would put the top of the Big East at least as good as the top of any conference.
If we can’t land either UConn or Kansas we should just stay at 10. Forget Dayton, Richmond, SLU, VCU, etc. If we were successful in landing UConn and Kansas, add one more in the west and one more in the east so there are two 7 team divisions. 12 games in the division + 7 games in the other division is equal to 19 conference games. I’d suggest:
Fox reportedly is interested in Big East expansion. This move would certainly have more eyes on the Big East, and would put us at the top of basketball again. Fox cash would need to help facilitate the moves. The ACC talk of the new-best-conference-ever fizzles.
What about the AAC and Big 12 conference tradition? The AAC and the Big 12 don’t have long histories, and tradition no longer matters for conference alignment decisions.
Kansas would have nice regional rivalries and would stretch to the east coast instead of stretching to Texas. Instead of waiting for Texas football to screw up their conference, Kansas takes a proactive Basketball First move.
For the dream to continue there needs to be a landing spot for football. This coincides with the shaky status of the CAA. Re-enter the scenario of the CAA having two divisions, one at FCS, and one at FBS. The CAA is a full conference and an alliance for programs that belong to conferences that don’t sponsor football at the proper level. The CAA alliance includes programs from the America East, A-10, and Big East. This scenario brings back to the CAA recent members, some as full, and some as football only:
These moves have, as a by-product, a strengthened CAA hoops conference.
The FBS division needs a contract that is attractive and at the least improves compensation to Kansas and the AAC entrants. Fox Sports again needs to facilitate the deal with cash. A Kansas move might take cash from Fox that more resembles bribery than compensation. That’s the game of conference alignment. This is not and never will be a top football power conference. It could be better than the MAC and AAC and maybe even the ACC though.
Would it be crazy for Fox to pay big cash for an East Coast football conference that also overlaps with the mid west and the ACC? As crazy as the B1G picking up Rutgers to expand east? The enhanced Big East basketball would be the key driver with a football contract as a tie-in necessity.
Army, UMass, Fordham, and Butler are listed as alternative or additional options. There are others, but this just illustrates possible options. The line-ups could be constituted with other members, these are just examples.
Our own Villanova is the least prepared, even now, for the FBS moves. An obvious solution for the stadium is PPL with maybe two games at the Linc per year. With a better schedule, an FBS program, and a great game day experience… can we draw 25,000 to 30,000? The last season we played Temple was 2012. Temple hosted us at the Linc and drew 33,000. The next week Temple hosted Maryland and drew 23,000. It’s possible to grow our football program. Here is the FBS conference with attendance:
FBS and Big East hoops can co-exist. This is Basketball First, not Basketball Only.
But Kansas? Anything is possible, especially with TV cash. Rutgers to the B1G? Rutgers???