The conference realignment news continues to drip along in the middle of Linsanity*, with multiple reports stating that Temple** is deep in discussions to join the Big East as an all-sports member. If this is fully consummated, I’d call the move slightly surprising because Villanova seemed to have a lot a sway in blocking Temple from encroaching on Main Line school’s power conference monopoly in the Philadelphia market, but it’s certainly not shocking. Ultimately, it would be tough for any football conference claiming to be northeastern-centric to not have some type of presence in Pennsylvania, so Temple fills a need for the Big East on that front. Another immediate league need that Temple can take care of is being able to join for the 2012 football season, which would allow the Big East to maintain a full conference schedule.
(* To preface the story below, you should know that I’m half-Chinese and half-Polish and my childhood dream was always to be the first Asian-American NBA player. That dream was looking good when I was a towering 5′ 11″ center that could shoot 3-pointers in 7th grade. I’m now 34 years old… and still 5′ 11″. Anyway, three years ago this month, I went to visit my sister and some of my cousins living in Philadelphia. As a hoops junkie, one of my requests was to see a game at the Palestra, which featured a Penn vs. Harvard game that particular weekend. My two fully Asian-American cousins pointed out beforehand that there was actually a Chinese-American player on Harvard that was halfway decent named Jeremy Lin and we all got pretty excited. Think about that for moment: for us, the thought of an Asian-American playing even Ivy League basketball was a carnie attraction on par with a bearded lady. Lin ended up playing fairly well, but I recall him shooting an airball at one point and there definitely wasn’t any thought that he’d be ever able to make an NBA roster (much less be a starting point guard that scores 20 points and dishes out 10 assists per game consistently). It was easy to see why he went undrafted and so many teams passed on him – the extra speed and power that you’d expect from an NBA prospect in comparison to other college players wasn’t there. The fact that Lin has become a walking movie plot on almost every single level and taken over SportsCenter for the past three weeks (this has actually been statistically documented) does make me beam with some ethnic pride and it’s a legitimately fun story to watch unfold no matter what your background might be. The only drawback for me as a Bulls fan is that he plays for the Knicks. Still, being able to say that I saw Harvard-vintage Jeremy Lin at the Palestra as a college kid makes me feel like I saw The Beatles play at the Cavern Club. The story has also taken some of my attention away from the nuclear disaster known as University of Illinois basketball. Ugh.)
(** In case you don’t recognize the person in the picture at the top of this post, it’s Bill Cosby playing for the Temple football team in the 1960s.)
Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com intimated that the addition of Temple could be a preemptive move by the Big East in anticipation of Louisville getting an invite down the road from the Big 12, which was also a thought that I had when Memphis was invited by the conference a couple of weeks ago. This dovetails into a report by Deep Shades of Blue tonight that BYU is “aggressively pursuing Big 12 membership”. It appears that no expansion moves would be made by the Big 12 until there’s a permanent replacement for current interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, but the signs continue to point to Louisville and BYU as the league’s primary targets.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll have some more posts on conference realignment news as it unfolds, college football playoff/plus-one proposals, the state of challenges to ESPN’s TV sports supremacy, and March Madness thoughts. Until then, please send me your list of coaching candidates to replace Bruce Weber.