Villanova Blocking Temple from Full Big East Membership? We Outline Realignment Contingencies

Villanova Blocking Temple from Full Big East Membership? We Outline Realignment Contingencies

We were turned on to this story late last night by John Lamb over at The T Stands Alone.

There are now a variety reports—New York Post, Philadelphia Daily News, Star-Ledger—that Villanova officials spent their time during Tuesday's Big East conference call doing their utmost to undermine Temple's admission to the Big East.

The reports vary from VU simply pointing out other expansion options to the entire call breaking down over "'Nova bashing Temple rather than making a strong case for the league to consider the Wildcats' potential in football."

While Villanova's—alleged—position is understandable in terms of the school attempting to protect its basketball program, it's otherwise short-sighted. To paraphrase Billy Crudup's portrayal of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in Too Big to Fail, Villanova—and consequently the Big East—is limiting its options at a time when it has very few.

The entire realignment puzzle seems to revolve around the University of Missouri. Mizzou is threatening to leave the already floundering Big-12 for the greener grass and conference chants of the SEC. In the event the Tigers ultimately opt out and go the SEC way, there is a strong belief that the Big-12 would try to quickly re-expand by immediately going after Louisville and West Virginia. There's also a fear that even if Mizzou stays put, the Big-12 might still make a play for the Cardinals and Mountaineers to sure up their own footing as a viable, money-making, automatic-qualifying conference.

Here's where the contingencies and hypotheticals really get fun (and painful for the Big East). Should those institutions depart, the Big East would be left with just four teams playing football; and if those two do indeed leave, UCONN to the ACC seems more and more likely—especially if Notre Dame were to finally join a football conference or merely transfer its non-football playing entities, thereby raising the ACC's membership number to an even 16.

IF that is the case, then the Big East will have just three teams left playing football—Rutgers, Cincinnati, South Florida—and will have potentially lost four more basketball-playing members to the ACC and Big-12.

Sound like a mess? That's because it is. And, before moving further, we should also reiterate that the inclusion of the service academies—Army, Navy, Air Force—is becoming increasingly unlikely.

So, at this time, we're going to once more refer to Mike Jensen's Monday piece in the Inquirer explaining some the finer points of conference realignment, specifically the influence of women's athletics. From Jensen:

"The Big East needs eight football members playing women's basketball
and others sports within the league. Just adding football-only members
to replace defectors won't keep the league in business. This increases
the odds Temple will get in for all sports. (It also explains why
Villanova remains in a strong position; it could really help the Big
East, adding a football school without having to add to the basketball
total.)"

If that as indeed the case, then as far as I can tell, the Big East has two options. They can either a) admit Temple and UCF as all-sports members immediately, thereby hopefully bolstering the loyalty Louisville, West Virginia and UCONN or b) continue to drag their feet until they lose their AQ-bid and potentially lack enough member programs to even play football.

Is that a false choice at this stage in the game? Yes; I can't predict (even the very near) future. But is that latter scenario looking increasingly possible? Yes, it is.

Of course, as the guys over at TheNovaBlog pointed out, this could all be one big power play on Villanova's part to have itself admitted for football by acquiescing on its opposition to Temple as a full-member. Such a scenario is, more or less, what Jensen describes above and what we labeled earlier this week as "a scenario with which all parties could potentially live."

Head on over to The T Stands Alone for a full breakdown of who's badmouthing who and check out TheNovaBlog for reasons why the basketball schools—like 'Nova— really aren't ruining the Big East. According to the latter, as matters currently sit, it looks as though the basketball schools are really the ones holding the power in the conference. Funny, I don't think the football schools saw it working out that way.

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

Noel joins Sixers in New Orleans, may play Sunday in Detroit

NEW ORLEANS -- Nerlens Noel made another step toward his return from arthroscopic left knee surgery by joining the Sixers in New Orleans for their game against the Pelicans.

Noel arrived on Wednesday with Robert Covington, who is slated to start after missing the last three games with a left knee sprain. Noel is not cleared to play, but Brown doesn’t think it will be long until he suits up. 

“I don’t think far away,” Brown said of Noel’s regular season debut after shootaround.

When asked about the possibility of Noel playing this weekend when the Sixers face the Pistons on Sunday in Detroit, Brown replied, “Maybe.” 

Noel has missed the entire regular season recovering from elective surgery for an inflamed plica in October. He completed the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Ala. and has been continuing his work with the Sixers. This trip to New Orleans is the first time he has been with the Sixers on the road. 

“[He is] integrating with the team, studying a lot of tape, scripting with his teammates with the understanding that we have a chance to see him soon,” Brown said. “All that trying to ramp it up where he can go to an NBA court more comfortably.”

Noel spoke out about his displeasure with the Sixers crowded frontcourt at the start of the preseason. He recently stuck with his stance, saying, “I don’t think the roster’s changed.”

Brown is working to keep the team moving forward as a unit while still being aware of and recognizing Noel’s perspective. 

“It does,” Brown said when asked if Noel’s open frustration concerns him as it pertains to team cohesiveness. “But I feel like it’s so much a part of what we try do around here that it’s not like you’re going to blink and you’ve forgotten something that equals camaraderie, that equals team, that equals trying to keep this together, and you’ve left it for a week … 

“It’s a day-to-day focus for me and it’s a very candid conversation with me and the player. The team hears it, the individual hears it, we all understand it … We need to co-exist and we need to understand the reality of it all, too. There’s a human side you understand. It’s also pride, it’s competitiveness, it’s do your job, it’s nothing is given, you’ve got to take stuff, draw your own line in the sand, competitors rule the day.”

Last season Noel averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds per game. The Sixers will look forward to having him back on the court in that once-crowded frontcourt that is now shorthanded. Jahlil Okafor remained in Philadelphia with gastroenteritis. Ben Simmons still is rehabbing from a right Jones fracture. 

"Soon you’re going to see Ben Simmons coming to a team bench where he doesn’t come out with boots and have to push him in some type of wheely apparatus," Brown said. "We’ve dealt with so many injuries trying to find that balance of dealing with their health and so on, and then trying to integrate them back into a team is part of growing a program."

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

Flyers fans send amazing postcards to their beat writers

I like to give Flyers fans a bit of a hard time on occasion, but that's only because I love them.

One beautiful Flyers fan today reminded me of why I love them.

They took the time to send a postcard to CSNPhilly.com's Flyers Insider -- and hater of the woo -- Tim Panaccio with one single word written on it.

"Woo."

Panotch says "Someone wasted a stamp and post card on this," but I say we just generated at least 50 cents in ad revenue from those of you that are reading this right now.

Money and time well spent.

Now, if you're not up on your wooing, Panotch penned a piece on how some fans wooing at games started annoying some of the players. Panotch hates the woo. BUT... and this is an important but... the Flyers are 6-0 since this all started. 

Woo.