Within the past 24 hours or so, there have been rumors abound that the Temple Owls, which were expelled from the Big East in football in 2004, may be rejoining the conference in all sports, as soon as this fall.
At first, it seemed like the conference wanted to have Boise State join a year earlier, but the Broncos have stated they will honor their contract with the Mountain West for football through the 2012-2013 season. If it proves true that Temple will be joining the conference for the upcoming season, it will be the 13th team for football and 18th for all sports when the realignment wheel slows down.
With Temple's addition, it seems almost certain that the Big East will have to add a 14th team for football to even out the future divisions.
East Carolina has been at or near the top of the Conference USA standings for the past couple of years. While they are not nearly as strong in other athletics, they would be a natural fit for a quick 14th team in football, and could continue rivalries with many past and present C-USA foes, including UCF, Houston, SMU, Louisville and South Florida.
When the conference realignment wheel started turning early in 2010, the Big East tried to bring Villanova up to full status in all sports, including football.
Villanova declined the offer at the time, but could now give reasons to jump up from FCS football status to the FBS level. Especially if Temple were to join the conference, a natural geographic rivalry would be created with two teams only 15 miles apart.
While this move seems highly unlikely, a move by Notre Dame to full membership would not only be a quick and easy fit, but could probably guarantee that the Big East would keep their automatic BCS bowl berth intact.
This may not be the conference the Cougars envisioned landing in, however, it would be a simple maneuver by the Big East, avoiding time delays and pesky exit fees.
The conference could also balance Temple’s east-coast addition with a west coast one in football, and at the same time bring in an equally successful basketball program that would lie on the cusp of the conference’s western boundary.
This could be a combination jab at West Virginia as well as a decent program addition. In both football and basketball, the Thundering Herd have remained competitive, and won the Beef O’Brady’s bowl last December. Similar to East Carolina, Marshall already has rivalries with present and future Big East members from Conference USA.