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.

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard batting cleanup, Cameron Rupp catching

Following a day off, the Phillies continue their roadtrip with the start of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Ryan Howard will bat in the heart of the Phillies order with Cameron Rupp at catcher following the trade of Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the rest of the lineup remains mostly the same as it was prior to a brief two-game series with American League rules.

With Ruiz's trade, Howard is the last remaining member of the Phillies' 2008 World Series team. He'll try to throw back to that time against the ageless Bartolo Colon. 

Howard has good power numbers against Colon. He has just six hits in 28 at-bats, but has drawn three walks and has three home runs against the 43-year-old starter. There are only 18 pitchers he has faced more often than Colon.

At catcher, Rupp had already inherited the starting job from Ruiz, but he is now the backstop with more experience in Philadelphia. The Phillies called up prospect Jorge Alfaro for now, but he will likely remain on the bench and be sent down when A.J. Ellis reports this weekend. 

Rupp has five hits in 14 at-bats against Colon. He has faced only the Braves' Julio Teheran more times than Colon in his four-year career. The five hits are tied for his most against any one pitcher (Teheran).

Here's the full lineup that will oppose Colon and the Mets. 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Odubel Herrera, CF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Adam Morgan, P

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

Awwwwe: Chooch leaves his Phillies teammates a love note on clubhouse white board

As if you didn't think you could love Carlos Ruiz any more...

Chooch was traded on Thursday afternoon and he's since departed for the potentially playoff-bound pastures with his new-again teammate Chase Utley and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But not before he left his Phillies teammates a loving note written on the white board in the clubhouse at CitiField where the Phils play the Mets this evening.

Courtesy of CSNPhilly.com's Phillies beat reporter Jim Salisbury:

It reads:

"I will miss all of you guys. Good luck the rest of the season. Love you all, Chooch! (Gracias)"

Awwwwwwwwe.

Gestures like the above help explain why guys like Roy Halladay call Chooch their favorite baseball player ever.

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NHL Notes: Brandon Pirri, Rangers agree to terms on one-year deal

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Brandon Pirri on a $1.1 million, one-year deal.

The 25-year-old Pirri spent last season with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks, recording 14 goals and 15 assists in 61 games. His 29 points were a career high.

A second-round pick, 59th overall, in the 2009 draft, Pirri has been traded twice and was considered a potential bargain in NHL free agency. Pirri is something of a shootout specialist, scoring on five of his six attempts last season, and that 83.3 percent success rate ranked first among players with at least five attempts.

In 166 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Panthers and Ducks, Pirri has 49 goals and 31 assists for 90 points.

Enroth replaces injured Lerner for Sweden at World Cup
NEW YORK -- With goaltender Robin Lehner still not fully healthy, Sweden replaced him on its World Cup of Hockey roster with Jhonas Enroth.

The Buffalo Sabres' starting goalie was bothered by a right ankle injury for much of last season that limited him to 21 NHL games. Lehner underwent surgery in March and had been working to get ready for the World Cup, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.

"We really wanted to give Robin the opportunity to recover from his injury from last year, but unfortunately it wasn't enough time for him to feel 100 percent recovered," coach Rikard Gronborg said in a statement released by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

Concussion problems held Lehner to 23 games in 2014-15, and he looked to be over those after the Ottawa Senators traded him to Buffalo at the 2015 draft. The 25-year-old injured his ankle early in the season opener and aggravated it in March.

It was not immediately clear when the Sabres expect Lehner to be back to 100 percent.

"As Robin continues to progress during the offseason in his rehab from last season's ankle injury, he felt that it was best to withdraw from Team Sweden for the upcoming World Cup," Buffalo general manager Tim Murray said in a statement. "Robin felt it was important to continue his rehab in Buffalo to prepare for training camp. He has been working out both on and off the ice and we look forward to seeing him on the ice with our team next month."

Enroth, who spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, recently signed a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He joins Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers and Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks as the goalies on Sweden's roster.

The 28-year-old has a 2.80 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 147 career NHL games. Enroth was on the Swedish team that earned a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, though he never appeared in a game. He started for Sweden at the 2013 and 2015 world hockey championships, winning gold in 2013 with a 1.15 GAA and .956 save percentage (see full story).