Big East football schools came up with a model Friday that involves inviting Boise State, Navy, and Air Force for football only, and Central Florida, Houston, and SMU for all sports.
Villanova obviously isn't outside of this development. Villanova made it clear it didn't want Temple in the Big East for all sports, and Big East basketball schools, which currently have the voting majority, have put up a united front against Temple, according to multiple sources.
There also were several reports Friday citing Big East sources that Villanova had put up opposition for Temple even for football only. Here's a strong counter to that: Big East basketball schools held a conference call Thursday, and, according to a Big East source, the following written summary was approved by the schools to be presented to Big East football schools on Friday:
Support for the proposed expansion model, which includes 12 football-playing institutions and up to 18 all-sport members.
Support for Temple, but consideration should be as a football-only member.
Unity is important and a demonstration of solidarity via an increase of the conference's withdrawal fee is essential.
Potential consideration for additional basketball members to enhance the basketball brand should be discussed in a second phase of the expansion process.
According to a Big East source, those were the only points the basketball schools made to the football schools. (And that last point about more basketball expansion was a very brief discussion on the basketball call, not central to the talk, more like just keeping options open). It is most interesting that Temple is the only school mentioned in that summary. It jibes with the idea that Big East football schools planned to make another run Friday at getting Temple in for all sports. The basketball schools made it clear in advance they wouldn't support that.
A Big East source familiar with the basketball discussions said Saturday that Villanova's stance on Temple hadn't changed at all during the week, on calls or behind the scenes.
"The Villanova and basketball group stance was to support Temple as a football member - that's fact," the Big East source said.
So what happened here? For one, Boise State happened. It remains to be seen whether Boise moves to the Big East, but the school's president told the Associated Press on Saturday: "It seems like our responsibility is to get as close as we can to AQ status." Meaning get in a league with an automatic BCS bid, a chance to play for the national championship.
It seems like plans developed during the week designed to entice Boise further, like adding some kind of western division of the Big East, may have been part of the equation. And suddenly SMU and Houston moved past Temple on the football list.
If this turns out to be the plan that saves Big East football, nobody's going to lose sleep about not having Philadelphia in the league.
But what about the leaks that Villanova's opposition was responsible for Temple being out? Go back further. There were a lot of leaks earlier last week that Temple was about to get in the Big East for all sports. That didn't happen. By all accounts, Villanova's opposition was crucial in preventing it. But the leaks themselves were simply assumptions. Who would want to make such an assumption? Let's start with the football schools looking to add members.
When the football members didn't include Temple on Friday's list, who might have incentive to leak that Villanova's opposition was the hangup? Kind of answers itself.
Temple now knows one thing - it doesn't have hard-core support from anywhere in the Big East. Certainly not from Villanova and the basketball schools, which are sticking together, especially on the Temple all-sports issue. And now not even from the football schools, which don't have the votes to ignore the basketball schools and are in survival mode, casualties be damned.
There is a Big East conference call scheduled for Monday on exit fees and membership issues. By the time of the call, or in the days after, it's possible Temple could be back on the board for football. Some schools could leave, and some of the invitees may pass. This is the Big East, after all. New slogan: Yesterday's news, today's debacle.
Contact Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Jensenoffcampus on Twitter. Read his "Off Campus" columns at www.philly.com/offcampus