How The Big East Was Biased Against Temple (and Biased Towards Rutgers)

SchmolikCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  The Temple Owls' bench reacts late in the game while taking on the Cornell Big Red during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Jacksonville Veteran's Memorial Arena on March 19, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. Cornell defeated Temple 78-65.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Rumors are that the Big East may be no more soon (or will exist in all sports except football). Don't expect a sympathy card from me though. The way you treated Temple the last two decades, I hope you get what you deserve. Over the past 20 years, the Big East has slapped Temple in the face several times in favor of Rutgers even though I feel it was unjustified. While the move since has looked good for the Big East, at the time I thought the move was biased. You can push all in in poker with a 2-7 off suit and get lucky, but it doesn't make it right.

So here's the story way back when (at least my version, feel free to present your own). The Big East began as a conference in 1979. They didn't sponsor football until 1991. In the late 80's, many Eastern schools including Penn State, Miami, and Florida State, competed as independents in football. That landscape started to change. At the time the Big East had nine members and only Pitt, Syracuse, and Boston College had FBS teams (remaining members were UConn, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John's, Villanova, and Georgetown). To begin football and to entice Miami, they brought in Miami as a full time member of the conference and Rutgers, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Temple as football only members.

Later on, in 1994 the league decided (against the will of the non football schools) to expand to 12 teams and invite two football members as full time members. Now the remaining two schools would remain as football members only so the criteria would seem to be based upon basketball and other sports (especially since more than half of the then ten members didn't even sponsor football). At the time, the Temple Owls were at the peak under John Chaney and made three appearances in the Elite Eight between 1988 and 1993.

NCAA Results of the four schools between 1985 and 1993 (the vote was taken in March 1994 before the 1994 Tournament started):
Temple: 8 appearances in 9 years, three 2nd round losses, and three regional finals
West Virginia: 4 appearances, only one win
Rutgers: 2 appearances, both 1st round losses
Virginia Tech: 2 appearances, both 1st round losses, and the last was in 1986.
As for football:
West Virginia played in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl vs Notre Dame I'm sure you remember. They were still an independent back then. In 1994, they won the Big East and were undefeated before losing in the Sugar Bowl.
Virginia Tech wasn't bad, they had some bowl games as an independent and some success in the Big East. This was of course before Michael Vick and the program really took off. Bruce Smith also played for Virginia Tech.
Rutgers played in only one bowl game before 1993 (and wouldn't play in their 2nd until Dec. 2005).
Temple of course sucked and still does although they did make a bowl this past December.
If you go by football, you take West Virginia and probably Virginia Tech. If you go by basketball (remember that schools like Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova, Seton Hall, and St. John's are voting), without a doubt you take Temple. It is clear now that Rutgers is a strong candidate for the Big 10 in part because of academics and it's pretty clear Rutgers is a much higher ranked school academically. But West Virginia is not exactly a top 100 school and they were taken so I'm not sure you can use the academics excuse for Rutgers over Temple. I'm not sure markets and economics were that important back then. They would have no need to expand to Temple since Villanova already had the Philly market. But they also had the northern New Jersey/New York market in St. John's and Seton Hall. Virginia Tech probably would have given the Big East a presence in the rest of Virginia which was bigger than West Virginia could offer.
Well the vote in 1994 was for ... West Virginia and Rutgers. Actually, not even a year later on the Big East totally spit on Temple when they decided to invite Notre Dame as a 13th member even though they said they would not go beyond 12 (otherwise, why not just invite every football only member?).
"The league's painful rejection of Temple and Virginia Tech, who sought the same move, left an uncharacteristic rift in the league. One major explanation given at the time was that a conference of more than 12 schools would have created too many logistical problems. A week later, when Tranghese made what he described as a courtesy call to Rosenthal, he was surprised to hear the Irish were still interested in talking. "
Now of course no one can blame the Big East for wanting Notre Dame and the Big East allowed Notre Dame to keep football independent which did please the basketball focused schools. They did say they were not interested in 14 at the time to make it even.
Also, eventually the Big East did eventually invite Virginia Tech in 1999, leaving Temple as the only football only school:
Then of course the Big East then kicked Temple out of the Big East.
Interesting to note: "But the one thing Temple has done recently is beat Rutgers. Of the Owls' 20 victories in the last seven full seasons, five were against the Scarlet Knights. " So Temple essentially was a better program than Rutgers, they kick out Temple and not Rutgers?
And then came the ACC raid, taking Miami and Virginia Tech leaving Big East football with just six teams (including UConn). Louisville and Cincinnati join. Those teams do make sense and were probably better choices than Temple (both better basketball programs as well). Then Boston College left, leaving another opening. Invite Temple back? I mean, beggars can't be choosers right? Nope. South Florida! South Florida had been playing football in 1-A since 1997 and they have been to two NCAA basketball tournaments since 1985 (0-2).
I mean, how many times has the Big East spit on Temple in the last two decades? And twice, Rutgers got preferential treatment over Temple when it clearly wasn't justified (especially back in 1994). Granted Rutgers hired the right coach, built up their program and clearly justified they belonged in the Big East (then again you can argue Temple is doing the same now under Al Golden). But if they wanted to kick out the worst team in the conference in 2001, shouldn't Rutgers have been the one kicked out (or kick both schools out or neither out)? When the league was about basketball much more than football back in 1994, why would you take Rutgers and West Virginia (questionable basketball teams at best) over unarguably the best basketball program among the candidates in Temple (by the way, Rutgers has been in the Big East in basketball for close to if not for 15 years and have not made one NCAA tournament while Temple has made many NCAA appearances in a league that gets 2-3 teams in the NCAA's as opposed to the Big East which averages 6-7 teams a year) ?
It was pretty easy to kick Temple out of football because they were only in the Big East as football (and the only football member school at the time). What if back in 1994 Temple had been granted full time in the Big East and Rutgers had not? Would Rutgers have been the one kicked out of the Big East? And if Rutgers wasn't in the Big East, their 2005 and 2006 seasons either never happen or happened in the MAC or as an independent and we're not talking about Rutgers as being this great football asset that many are saying is the #1 school among Big 10 candidates from the Big East. And maybe Greg Schiano moves to Miami when they come calling. And if Temple stays in the Big East, maybe they don't drop as far as they do and are a much better program than they are now. I give Schiano and Rutgers a lot of credit for rebuilding their program and it is now a decent if not good team (then again, maybe Schiano leaves for Penn State after JoePa retires). But if the tables were turned, would Rutgers be the story they are today? Would the Big 10 have any interest in them at all?
It sickens me that Rutgers may be going to the Big 10 while not only Temple but potentially Syracuse and Pittsburgh could wind up in non auto BCS conferences when if the Big East were fair Rutgers wouldn't even be in the Big East (or would just be a football member only). Clearly they took advantage of the opportunities they got from the Big East, but did they deserve those opportunities? I say no. And I say Temple got a raw deal from the Big East - in 1994 when Rutgers got taken as a full time member instead of the Owls and in 2001 when the Big East kicked out Temple for being bad but let Rutgers stay despite being just as bad if not worse. Then again, wouldn't it be ironic if Rutgers, the school they clearly rolled out the red carpet for even though it was unjustified, wound up being the knife that killed the Big East? Assuming academics are an issue, had the Big East taken Temple in 1994 and kept them in 2001, the Big 10 wouldn't be interested in taking Temple now.
If you are wondering why I am so offended by the Big East's treatment of Temple, I live in the Philadelphia area and the Big East kicking out Temple in football and denying them full status is to a great degree slapping the Philadelphia area in the face. Keep in mind one of every eight Greater Philadelphia college graduates holds a Temple University degree and I know several Temple alumni personally. Anytime the Big East (or any other conference) wants to talk about expanding to new markets and doesn't even want to talk about Temple, are you saying Philadelphia isn't important? That Piscataway, New Jersey is more important than Philadelphia? And don't give me New York or even New Jersey.
Everyone from Rutgers is talking about "we're New Jersey! we're New Jersey!" Well, if you guys are New Jersey, why call yourselves Rutgers? Who exactly is Rutgers anyway? Most of you probably couldn't tell me without looking it up. Half of Rutgers' student body probably don't even know. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a private school. Or I wouldn't be sure what state you were in. I graduated from the University of Illinois. No one has ever asked me what state Illinois is in. And we're not called Urbana University (although now that I think about it, Champaign University would've been funny!) Purdue is Purdue because there already is an Indiana University. Temple can't change to Penn State University because there already is one. And University of Pennsylvania (although it's a private school) is also taken. By the way, "Philadelphia University" also exists. There is no University of New Jersey or New Jersey University that I am aware of (although there is a College of New Jersey). If you want to advertise you are New Jersey, just become "New Jersey University". Maybe then I would believe you deserve to be in the Big 10. Then again, maybe you could try to make the NIT first (baby steps).
So, Big East, screw you. And Rutgers, you're not welcome in the Big 10. You should be happy you're even in the Big East.