What Big East Expansion Means for Temple and 'Nova UPDATED

What Big East Expansion Means for Temple and 'Nova UPDATED

It was only a few months ago that game-changing conference realignment updates flocked to social media outlets like the salmon of Capistrano. Then, as is wont to happen, days and weeks of near-constant chatter gave way to weeks and months of inactivity and apathy. It was a great story for a while, but readers and writers (myself included) beat it so badly to death that even meaningful updates were briefly greeted with a collective "meh."

Perhaps it was that break in the action—or attention paid—that injected just a little bit of excitement back into today's confirmation that the Big East will add five more schools to its conference membership, expanding its reach from coast to coast. Boise State and San Diego State will join as football-only members while UCF, Houston and SMU will join as all-sports members. With Rutgers, UCONN, Cincinnati, Louisville and USF still on board, the deal will raise the football-playing membership from its current eight teams to its eventual ten.

Though, as we've told you before, this story is by no means at its end, and won't be for some time. So, what are we to make of this deal's impact on the future prospects of Temple and Villanova?

Okay, so maybe this is why we got tired of the story. As much as it would be relief to finally have an answer one way or the other for even just one school or the other, the Big East is going to remain in a state of flux for months, if not years to come.

While this deal certainly plugs some holes and provides a really fantastically fascinating prospect for both lovers and haters of the BCS (see Boise State's annual snubs versus the uncertainty still surrounding the conference's AQ-status), today's news should be seen more as a step in the middle of the proceedings than a legitimate end to the road.

In the short term, the conference will continue its wooing of service academies Navy and Air Force, who appear, for whatever reasons, to be far more interested now than they were only two months ago. Should it land both, the conference will reach its previously stipulated goal of 12 football-playing members and the problem would, seemingly, be solved. End game, right?

Eh, not quite. Though the Big East—along with the Big 12—has been the focus of the realignment universe for the past few months, it's been so for all the wrong reasons. The Big East has been in the news not because teams are clambering to join in the hopes of creating a super conference a la the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC, but because its current members are leaving in the hopes of joining one of the preceding powerhouses. Today's announcement, though a short-term plus for the conference, doesn't do much in the way of assuaging its long-term concerns.

Moving right back to those super-conferences, the ACC has been previously rumored to have an interest in expanding to 16-teams. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are already leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast, which, by the way, is what started this chaotic mess in the first place. If the ACC really is looking to expand once more, it's nearly impossible to believe the Connecticut Huskies and Louisville Cardinals aren't on the list of prime candidates. Believe whatever you want about Calhoun not getting along with so and so and the claims of school presidents about being loyal to their conferences; just don't be caught off guard when the ACC comes calling down the line. As for the here and now, even Navy and Air Force aren't done deals that would settle the conference's short-term aspirations.

------------------

Update: Reports have surfaced that Air Force has declined interest in the Big East and will be staying put in the Mountain West. With Navy's agreement still probable—but not yet confirmed—the conference is now in search of at least one more school to reach it's goal of 12 football-playing members.

Though Big East officials will be looking for another Western program to ease the travel concerns of Boise, San Diego and Southern Methodist, UCONN basketball coach Jim Calhoun has joined Rick Pitino in lobbying publicly that an all-sports invitation be extended to Temple. Separately, Brian Ewart of VUHoops was able to secure a quote from conference commissioner John Marinatto that Villanova's potential as a football member will be revisited once the conference gets its "footing established."

Thus, we reiterate our position from last evening...

------------------ 

As for Temple and 'Nova—this is supposed to be about them, after all—well, there's there in. The conference landscape is far from settled and its not unreasonable to believe the Big East has further losses to contend with on the horizon. Is there any lock-solid evidence that says "these" schools are leaving and that "these" schools would step in to fill the gaps? No, not at all.

The point is that when something—anything—changes down the road, we could all be right back to square one. And, suddenly, Temple University and Villanova football are put back on the drawing board along with every other school who may be able to fill a need.

The Big East hasn't secured itself a long-term solution, it's just found some friends to party with in this weird, intermediary middling process.

Boise State, say hello South Florida. Rutgers, meet San Diego State. Everybody else, pour some punch, take a seat and enjoy K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70s.

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

Top Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak adds muscle, looks for big season 2017

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – The difference was striking.
 
When Mickey Moniak arrived in Philadelphia to sign his first professional contract six months ago, he was rail-thin and 170 pounds.
 
On Tuesday night, Moniak made a quick visit to the winter meetings to be honored as Baseball America’s high school player of the year for 2016. 
 
He’d added 20 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame.
 
“It’s all muscle,” Moniak said proudly.
 
The Phillies selected Moniak with the first pick in the June draft and signed him for $6.1 million. Just a few months of professional baseball convinced the 18-year-old centerfielder that he needed to get stronger. He recently capped off his first year of pro ball with a three-week stint at the Phillies’ strength and conditioning camp in Clearwater.
 
“It’s something the Phillies wanted me to do and I knew I definitely needed it, too,” Moniak said. “I really enjoyed my first year. I got a taste of what it was like to play baseball for a job and it was a good time.
 
“There were a lot of positives that came out of the first year. I felt like I jumped in there and really competed. I hit well in July. In August, I started to fatigue and I wasn’t prepared for that, being my first season. But it was a good learning experience. I needed to get stronger.”
 
Moniak hit .284 with a .340 on-base percentage, 11 doubles, four triples, a homer and 28 RBIs in 46 games for the Phillies’ prospect-stacked Gulf Coast League team. That club, loaded with young Latin players and first-year talent from the 2016 draft, went 41-17 and advanced to the finals of the league playoffs before losing to the Cardinals.
 
After the playoffs, many of the players from that club participated in the Florida instructional league. Moniak played sparingly, however, after dealing with some soreness in his right hip. He was checked out by doctors in Philadelphia and there are no more concerns.
 
“It was just tightness,” Moniak said. “Everything is good. I’m 100 percent. They said it was either a growing pain or just tightness. I just have to stretch more.”
 
Moniak is an athletic centerfielder with speed and a good left-side bat. He has been compared favorably to former All-Star Steve Finley.
 
"Collectively, we believe Mickey was the best player available in the draft," Johnny Almaraz, the Phillies head of amateur scouting, said on draft night in June. "He's a true centerfielder with incredible offensive ability and the potential to be a perennial All-Star."

Moniak hit .476 with seven homers, 12 triples and four doubles at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, during his senior season. He impressed a rival scout who saw him play five times during the season.

“The bat is good,” the scout said. “He’s going to hit and hit for average. He’s a good centerfielder. He can run. The question is how many home runs will he hit? If he ends up getting stronger, he could be a corner bat that’s unbelievable. There’s no negative here. It’s a good pick.”
 
Now, Moniak is stronger. He looked sturdy in a dress shirt and tie at the winter meetings Tuesday night. He is eager to see how it all translates on the field in 2017.
 
“I’m excited for the season,” he said. “I’m just going to go to spring training and compete and hopefully end up in (Single A) Lakewood, stay healthy and hopefully have a winning season and win a championship. That’s the ultimate goal and if personal stats come with that, too, that’s great.”

CSN's NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys surging, Eagles continue to fall

CSN's NFL Power Rankings: Cowboys surging, Eagles continue to fall

With Week 13 behind us, it's clear that there is major separation at both the top and the bottom of the league, led by the surging Cowboys and anchored by the lowly Browns. However, With just a quarter of the season remaining, the race for the Wild Card is closer than ever. 

After taking in all the action from this past week, here's CSN's NFL Power Rankings for Week 14, compiled by Derrick Gunn and John Boruk.

1. Dallas (11-1)
While others in the conference struggle, Dallas continues to glide through its schedule and became the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. - Gunn (1)

Impressively, the Cowboys beat the Vikings despite just 13 first downs and 264 total yards. - Boruk (1)

2. New England (10-2)
If the Patriots get home field advantage in the AFC, I’d bet on them to win the conference even without Gronk. - Gunn (2)

Best first quarter team in the NFL. Easy to win when you make your opponent one dimensional. - Boruk (2)

3. Oakland (10-2)
The Raiders can get physical or play the finesse game. Their six-game win streak and overall record are no joke. - Gunn (3)

They dominate the trenches.  Oakland has allowed 13 sacks, fewest in the NFL. - Boruk (3)

4. Seattle (8-3-1)
The loss of Earl Thomas for the season will hurt, but this team is so good at dealing with adversity. - Gunn (4)

The loss of Earl Thomas will be huge to that secondary.  He covers up a lot of their flaws. - Boruk (4)

5. Kansas City (9-3)
The Chiefs' last two wins over Denver and Atlanta were quite impressive and set the stage for a huge showdown Thursday with Oakland. - Gunn (5)

Safety Eric Berry has been one of the top-five defensive players in the league. - Boruk (5)

6. Detroit (8-4)
The Lions' defense was a weakness but now is a strength. In their last four outings, the Lions haven’t allowed more than 83 yards rushing in a game and have held their last six opponents to 20 points or less. - Gunn (6)

Detroit’s offense is 100 percent in the red zone this season – a TD or FG on every drive. - Boruk (7)

6. Denver (8-4)
The Broncos are solid everywhere, but quarterback play could hold this team back. - Gunn (7)

Denver has been bad against the run.  How will they stop DeMarco Murray/Derrick Henry? - Boruk (6)

8. Baltimore (7-5)
The Ravens stopped the Dolphins' win streak at six and control their own playoff destiny. - Gunn (8)

Have won four of their last five, lead the AFC North and as of today, they’re 43-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. - Boruk (8)

9. Pittsburgh (7-5)
When the Steelers' offense is on point it can be lethal. - Gunn (9)

11-1 over their last 12 December games. Can Ladarius Green follow up on his performance against NYG? - Boruk (9)

10. N.Y. Giants (8-4)
G-men have potential to be really good, but last four games vs. Dallas, vs. Detroit, at Eagles and at Washington are not an easy road to travel. - Gunn (10)

Steelers snapped the Giants' six-game winning streak. Allowed 24 points for the first time since Week 4. - Boruk (11)

11. Atlanta (7-5)
Falcons have lost two of last three. - Gunn (11)

They found ways to win earlier this season.  Now, the Falcons are finding ways to lose games. - Boruk (12)

12. Tampa Bay (7-5)
During their current four-game win streak, the Bucs have beaten the Chiefs, Seahawks and Chargers. - Gunn (13)

Four-game winning streak. Defense has stepped up and allowed just 53 points during the streak. - Boruk (10)

13. Washington (6-5-1)
Will Jay Gruden chewing out his guys after a second straight loss wake the Skins up? Time will tell. - Gunn (12)

Defense has allowed 62 points in a two-game losing streak. Should bounce back against Eagles. - Boruk (13)

14. Minnesota (6-6)
The Vikings are 1-6 over their last seven games. An Adrian Peterson return could save their season. - Gunn (14)

One win over their last seven games. They get Jacksonville this week to remain in the playoff chase. - Boruk (17)

15. Miami (7-5)
Getting smacked by the Ravens wounded the Dolphins. Key players are banged up. - Gunn (16)

There goes that six-game winning streak. Completely manhandled by the Ravens on both sides. - Boruk (15)

16. Indianapolis (6-6)
In a three-way tie with Houston and Tennessee in the AFC south. If Luck stays healthy, I look for the Colts to win that division. - Gunn (18)

A healthy Andrew Luck certainly goes a long way. They’ve scored 311 points and have allowed exactly 311 points. - Boruk (14)

17. Green Bay (6-6)
Rodgers says the pack can run the table. So far, two in a row and counting. - Gunn (15)

WRs aren’t usually this consistent, but Jordy Nelson has a TD and at least 90 yards in five of his last six weeks. - Boruk (22)

17. Buffalo (6-6)
QB Tyrod Taylor holds the Bills back. - Gunn (21) 

Tough loss for the Bills who were leading 24-9 midway through the third quarter before losing to Oakland 38-24. - Boruk (16)

19. Tennessse (6-6)
Marcus Mariota has really improved. He has 5th best passer rating (101.9), and it helps to have the No. 2 rusher DeMarco Murray behind him. - Gunn (19)

We’ll see if the Titans can benefit from a Week 13 bye with the Broncos coming to Nashville. - Boruk (20)

19. San Diego (5-7)
If only the Chargers could stop turning the ball over. Tied for the league lead with 25. - Gunn (20)

Shocking...Chargers blow another fourth quarter lead. Haven’t been at .500 since Week 2. - Boruk (19)

21. Houston (6-6)
How is this team at .500? Offense has scored more than two touchdowns in a game just once this year. - Gunn (22)

Still in the AFC South race with three of their final four games against divisional opponents. - Boruk (18)

21. Arizona (5-6-1)
The Cardinals team that just beat Washington... where’s that team been all season? - Gunn (17)

Love watching David Johnson play. The Cards' RB is on pace for 2,300 yards from scrimmage. - Boruk (23)

23. Cincinnati (4-7-1)
Had to move Bengals ahead of Eagles for obvious reasons. - Gunn (23)

Dismantled the Eagles at one point, leading 29-0 just 34 minutes into the game. - Boruk (24)

24. New Orleans (5-7)
Drew Brees' record streak of home TD passes in 60 games has ended. - Gunn (26)

When was the last time Drew Brees didn’t throw a TD pass at home? It had been nearly 8 years. - Boruk (21)

25. Carolina (4-8)
How the mighty have fallen. The defending NFC champs are at the bottom looking up in NFC South. - Gunn (25)

A piece of advice for Cam Newton...wear a tie. Don’t show teammates the rules don’t apply to you. - Boruk (25)

25. Eagles (5-7)
Can't sustain drives. Can't get to the QB. Can't defend the pass. Can't get off the field on third down. Can't win! - Gunn (24)

Defense allowed five passing plays over 20 yards in Cincinnati’s first six possessions, and that’s an offense without A.J. Green. - Boruk (27)

27. L.A. Rams (4-8)
Rams Head coach Jeff Fisher says his team is close. I ask close to what!? - Gunn (27)

Rams managed just 25 yards in the first half, the fewest by a team in a game this season. Forget about having Eric Dickerson on the sideline, get him in the game. - Boruk (26)

28. Chicago (3-9)
When the Bears beat the 49ers, it was first time this season they held an opponent to single digit points. - Gunn (28)

Jordan Howard, a Fifth-round pick from Indiana, just another example why you don’t draft RBs early. - Boruk (29)

29. N.Y. Jets (3-9)
I Wish I could rank them lower after their embarrassing performance against the Colts. It’s the Bryce petty show for the rest of the season. - Gunn (30)

Jon Gruden’s dissection of the Jets' defensive line mailing it in was some of the best analysis I’ve seen this season. - Boruk (28)

30. Jacksonville (2-10)
The Blake Bortles era has been brutal. Could be coming to an end. - Gunn (29)

Jaguars fans deserve some sort of a refund on their tickets this season. Just dreadful to watch. - Boruk (30)

31. San Francisco (1-11)
The positive this season for chip Kelly is...thank goodness the Browns are worse. - Gunn (31)

Colin Kaepernick was sacked more times (5) than he had passing yards (4). - Boruk (31)

32. Cleveland (0-12)
If rumors are true that RG3 could be returning, does it enhance the Browns' chances of winning a game? - Gunn (32)

Battle of Ohio. Putting it out there: Browns get their first win of the season this week. - Boruk (32)