Big East puts Owls in West Division

Posted: November 15, 2012

KENT, Ohio -- It's official. The Big East presidents approved a two-division football format on Tuesday that will place Temple in the West Division with Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, Memphis, and Southern Methodist for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, and South Florida will make up the East Division.

The division champions will play in a new Big East championship game at the home field of one of the participating teams.

The unanimous vote at the Big East's annual fall meetings for conference presidents and athletic directors in Chicago was nothing more than a formality.

The Inquirer reported in March that the Owls knew they would most likely play in the West Division when they were invited back into the conference. Things would have changed only had the Big East opted against making the divisions geographically based.

"That was our agreement going in the first two years, and I am good with that," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "That was part of the deal, and we are going to go in there and will play on that side for two years, and that will change. And wherever we head from there, whether we still go East-West or they go red-blue, I am not involved in those meetings."

The divisions will be tweaked in 2015 when the conference is expected to grow to 14 teams. That's when Navy joins for football only. Brigham Young or Air Force is expected to join Navy, according to multiple sources.

East and West divisions were among three options. The second option called for North and South divisions. A third would have had a non-geographic alignment, splitting the schools in the West, the Texas schools, and the Florida schools.

But the conference leaders ultimately felt that East and West Divisions would provide the most national exposure and keep regional rivalries alive.

"We are actually in favor of how it lines up," Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said. "There are two six-team divisions. So we will play five [West Division games], and there will be three [East Division] teams on a crossover. So there are only three teams on the East side that we won't be playing."

Bradshaw wouldn't disclose the three East Division teams the Owls will play next season. But don't be surprised if they are Rutgers, Connecticut, and one of the Florida schools.

It was announced at the spring meetings that Temple will play Rutgers annually no matter how the divisions are aligned. Being able to play UConn is also a high priority for the Owls. And the conference's coaches expressed their desire to travel annually to Florida and Texas for recruiting purposes.

"You are talking about some great trips and some great programs," said Addazio, who added that playing in the West Division will help him recruit throughout the country. "You are playing national. It's a national perspective, and kids enjoy that.

"When I was at Notre Dame [as an assistant coach], we played kind of a national schedule. It is a little different scenario, but it's kind of a cool deal to be to places you have never been. It can be very, very exciting. The future is very exciting."

Contact Keith Pompey at Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock


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