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Big East Expansion Candidates: Temple Owls

With the idea of realignment starting to kick up some more dust it is time once again to weight the pros and cons of various expansion scenarios. Our focus this week will be the Big East, who is looking to defend themselves from future decisions in the Big Ten by flirting with the idea of adding Villanova or TCU, or both.

First a look at some average Big East numbers among just the current football membership (IE: No Villanova, a basketball member).

  • Average Stadium Capacity: 52,896
  • Average Enrollment: 30,364
  • Average Endowment: $676.6 million

When asked if the Big East had any actual requirements in terms of stadium capacities and financial numbers Big East Director of Communications stated that there are no minimum requirements. The only requirements for any potential expansion would be that it would benefit the conference as a whole when adding football teams and/or other programs. For now assume that any potential candidate would probably want to meet these numbers, or at least come close to them. Not meeting these numbers should not be a total detriment though. These numbers just serve as a reference point in comparing any potential addition with the current Big East membership.

Yesterday we took a look at how Villanova would compare and today we take a closer look at Temple. Here is how the Owls measure up compared to those Big East averages.

  • Stadium Capacity: 68,532
  • Enrollment: 36,915
  • Endowment: $210 million

Temple is an interesting option. Once kicked out of the Big East for a lack of success in football both on the field and in the stands, the Owls have turned things around in recent years and have become a much different team than the Big East last saw.

Head coach Al Golden has built a foundation for winning and this season appears to be what he has been waiting for. The Owls have lost just one game this season, at Penn State, and have knocked off defending FCS champion Villanova, defending MAC champion Central Michigan and Big East opponent Connecticut. Not only have the Owls come a long way since being forced out of the Big East but the conference itself has taken on a new form since expelling the Owls in 2004. Temple would still struggle to fund a program the same way schools like Pittsburgh can but if Golden maintains his strong recruiting efforts then Temple could survive.

If Temple were to be invited back to the Big East then they would need to focus on improving facilities in order to keep top talent coming their way. Higher conference shares in the Big East compared to the MAC would help with that but the conference may be hesitant to bring the Owls back to the nest. Temple still struggles to draw fans to their games, a problem that stems back for years and was part of the reason to vote Temple out of the conference.

Like Villanova it is hard for Temple to really take advantage of the nation’s fourth largest television market in Philadelphia. With Philadelphia being more of a pro-town it can be a struggle for the Owls to bring in respectable television ratings on a weekly basis. Could that change being in the Big East and playing more schools Philadelphia sports fans are familiar with (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Rutgers) compared to schools like Eastern Michigan, Toledo, and Northern Illinois. Yes, especially if Temple can maintain their level of play right now. That is the key.

An invitation to the Big East might be enough to ensure Golden sticks around longer as well. As Golden has started to win games he has become one of the coaches that big name programs are taking a look at. He has already turned down an offer from UCLA and has taken his name out of the conversation in coaching searches at Notre Dame and Cincinnati. Some feel he is holding out for the eventual opening at Penn State, where he played his college football, but if Temple became a program in an automatic-BCS berth conference, would that entice him to stay?

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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