As the Big East turns and turns

In the game of musical conferences, why does it seem someone keeps pulling the chair out from under Temple every time the Owls try to sit down?

Having finally convinced the Big East to take them in for football and basketball, suddenly the respective landscapes seem unrecognizable. With Louisville and Rutgers subsequently announcing plans to leave the conference, Temple football finds itself in a geographical fix. The school is now in the Western Division of the so-called Big East, along with Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Memphis.

Basketball may be worse, as schools that made the Big East the power it was prepare to split. Seven Catholic schools, including ’Nova, Georgetown and St. John’s intend to go it alone. Syracuse, Pitt and Notre Dame are already out the door, with UConn and Cincinnati reportedly eager to escape. That doesn’t seem to leave much competition for Temple when it arrives next season.

Yet Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw isn’t discouraged.

“Basketball is easier to answer because we never played in the league,” said Bradshaw. “We would’ve liked to play Georgetown and St. John’s, but we can schedule them. We’ve always been able to schedule up depending on what league we’re in.”

If you think that’s optimistic, listen to how easy it will be to sell football.

“Clearly in football we’ve needed a structure,” said Bradshaw. “Before Louisville and Rutgers went into what they did, the Big East was rated sixth-best in the country. And, after they left, we’re still sixth. The champion of our league has a direct route to a BCS game. In recruiting, to be in that league, to have that automatic access, be in the markets we’re in and have the television package we hope to have is still very good for us.”

How it plays out on the football field and for Dunphy’s hoopsters may be a different story.

But, at least for now, Temple isn’t going anywhere. Even if everyone else seems to be taking all of the chairs with them.

Big East hoops

With seven Catholic schools set to defect, here’s what the conference might look like for basketball:

Out: Villanova, Georgetown, DePaul, Providence, St. John’s, Marquette, Seton Hall

Some are calling for the Big East to split into two, seven-team divisions — maybe East and West. Here are some schools that might transition over:

Potentially in: Butler, Creighton, Saint Louis, Xavier, Gonzaga, Dayton, VCU

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