The rampant speculation that Temple could be on its way back to the Big East cooled for a few weeks after the conference released an expansion proposal—one allegedly influenced quite heavily by Villanova—that did not include a new member on North Broad.
But now, after months of rumors regarding a potential move, Temple's supporters are coming out in full force to generate a renewed push on the school's behalf.
As always, Rick Pitino isn't one to take no for an answer. And neither, in this case, are Michael Nutter and Ed Rendell. [excerpts from their letters to the Big East after the jump]
Starting with Pitino, the Louisville basketball coach has been pounding the Temple drum for the last two months, insisting that the Owls be included as part of a new Big East. Pitino's pro-Temple campaign began as only part of a suggested proposal to the struggling conference originally published on his website, but has since expanded to literally any interview in which the coach discusses realignment.
Indeed, as the Big East has become weaker and weaker, and as the Big 12 has—it seems—an interest only in West Virginia and not, as previously thought, Louisville, Pitino is continuing to endorse Temple to anyone who will listen.
That endorsement is beginning to gain some traction with the national media. The World Wide Leader's Andy Katz and Dick Vitale have both released statements—a video and a tweet, respectively—advocating the admission of Temple and Memphis to the Big East.
And, just as the national coverage has increased, local lobbying is also apparently on the rise.
Owlscoop.com's John Di Carlo is reporting that both current and former mayors Michael Nutter and Ed Rendell have written letters to the Big East endorsing Temple's admission as a full, all-sports member. The site was the first to obtain copies of the letters and release excerpts. Those pieces are posted below.
An excerpt from Rendell's letter:
"By any standard, Temple has arrived. As a Philadelphian and a sports fan, I am very proud of Temple's growing impact on intercollegiate athletics, and I am convinced that an affiliation with the Big East is one that would benefit both the Conference and the Greater Philadelphia region."
An excerpt from Nutter's letter:
"As you consider the future of the Big East, I hope you take a moment and look up North Broad Street to the home of Temple University. By doing so, I believe you're looking at the future of the Big East."
Head on over to Owlscoop's Cherry and White forums for the full copies of each letter.
The Temple-to-the-Big-East bandwagon just keeps getting bigger. Yep, everyone seems to be coming around; well, save for a certain institution on the Main Line, a conference in serious denial about its waning prestige and a handful of still-bitter Temple alums. They're not coming around.