It was fun while it lasted, a relaxing few years without much talk of major conference realignment. Obviously, that time is over, with Texas and Oklahoma officially making their move toward the Southeastern Conference.
Could enough dominoes start falling to impact Philadelphia? Sure, absolutely. The bigger question: would the local impact be positive or negative? That’s a tougher one to forecast.
Let’s break down some basics:
Could the AAC getting poached for a couple of schools by the Big 12 actually help Temple?
Yes, it could. Let’s say the Big 12 decides taking Houston and/or Central Florida and/or Cincinnati is the best that league can do.
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Under the current scenario, it’s hard to see how the AAC getting weaker helps any remaining schools in the league.
But … there’s a big but. If a 12-team playoff comes into being, the entire success of football programs will be based on reaching that playoff, and if Temple has less competition for a proposed guaranteed non-Power 5 playoff spot, what’s wrong with that? That’s not putting on rose-colored glasses. That’s just being real. Nobody in Philly gets too fired up about whether Houston and/or Central Florida and/or Cincinnati comes to the Linc for a game. This city would care a whole lot about the Owls being in the playoffs.
Could the ACC decide it has to expand and look to Philly?
Not likely but maybe. If the future of media money is in streaming, then leagues won’t care about markets, just customers. So a full stadium every Saturday would be a better indicator of bringing in paying customers. That ain’t Temple, historically. And it wouldn’t be Villanova if the Main Liners took the bait and decided ACC hoops would be too good to pass up.
Would ACC hoops be too good to pass up?
Maybe six years ago, before Villanova found out the Big East is a perfectly good place from which to win an NCAA title or two, without the additional costs involved in upgrading your football program. Would Villanova have to consider such an ACC invite? Sure, since those costs could bring long-term benefits. But they’d be smart to stay put as long as Fox Sports has the Big East as its prime partner, making for a Power 6 hoop league.
What’s a worst-case scenario for Temple?
Maybe the Big 12 poaching more than a couple of teams, like most of the AAC, but skips Temple. Then that path to the playoff promised land could become harder, with the Mountain West moving ahead of the AAC as the most powerful non-Power 5 league. That could be dangerous terrain.
What if the Big 12 goes away completely?
What if, say, the Pac-12 poaches a couple of teams and, the Big Ten grabs one or two more, and some orphans are left looking for a home? Maybe the AAC would be such a home. There’s nothing wrong with West Virginia coming to town every other year, for instance.
The question: Is that scenario good for Temple? Not so sure. You might be farther away from that football playoff bid, with more serious competition for March Madness. So financially, it might be better, but competitively, not so much.
Could the Big East do some poaching of its own?
The Big East would presumably love to add a little program in Lawrence, Kan. But the Rock Chalk Jayhawkers have a football program, albeit a woeful one. But Kansas needs a home for the whole package, so it’s more likely a target for another Power 5 league that would love to bring in football and basketball.
What about Penn State? Any chance the upheaval impacts Happy Valley?
Not likely, since the Big Ten has proven to be a good home. But let’s say the SEC really wants to take over the world. Might a school with a 100,000-seat stadium that draws attention all over the East Coast prove to be an attractive target? We say yes, it would have to at least be in the internal SEC conversations. We also say the Big Ten Network prints enough money to keep the Nits happy right where they are.