Big East invites Villanova to become 9th football member

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: mcooperj@syr.edu | @mark_cooperjr Commentscenter_img After a summer in which the stability of the Big East conference came into question, the conference may have found some reinforcement. Last week, the Big East asked Villanova to make the jump from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Wildcats, already a member of the Big East in all sports except football, are looking into the idea of becoming the ninth football team in the conference. The news comes after a summer in which the future of the Big East was up in the air. The Big Ten conference’s expansion plans spurred rumors of multiple Big East teams making the jump, which could have triggered the collapse of the Big East. Now it seems as if the conference can become even stronger than it was before the summer by adding a new member — albeit, a familiar member. ‘That would be a tremendous addition for us to have the ninth member come right from within,’ Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall said in the Big East coaches’ teleconference Monday. ‘It would make things a lot easier for the whole Big East conference, as a whole. For all sports, not just football.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder text While the offer is there for Villanova’s taking, it’s still no guarantee the Wildcats will join the conference. The process of moving from FCS to FBS is difficult and takes a lot of commitment from the university. It also takes a lot of money. The NCAA requires all FBS teams to have a paid or actual attendance of 15,000 for all home games. Villanova Stadium, where the Wildcats currently play, holds 12,500. ‘As you might suspect, this is a complex issue, which entails many dimensions — both quantitative and qualitative,’ Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro told the Philadelphia Daily News on Sept. 9. ‘While we will move forward on this as quickly as possible, it is critical that all of those dimensions are vetted thoroughly prior to making any final decision.’ If Villanova is to accept the Big East’s invitation, it would still likely have to wait until 2014 to become a member of the conference. Per NCAA rules, a FCS team has to go through a two-year provisional period before becoming a full-time FBS member. This can give the Wildcats enough time to plan out all of the upgrades the program needs to make, along with giving head coach Andy Talley some time to recruit for an FBS program. One possible option for a new home for the Wildcats is PPL Park, current home to Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. The stadium, which is located in Chester, Pa., has a capacity of 18,500. In addition, Villanova will likely need to look into upgrading its training facilities and will have to add scholarships to the program as well. It’s a process Edsall went through with UConn, as he took the Huskies into the FBS as an I-A Independent in 2000 and then into the Big East in 2004. It wasn’t until UConn’s fourth season as an FBS team that it finished with a winning record. Villanova, ranked No. 2 in the most recent FCS coaches’ poll, has had its share of success at the lower level. The Wildcats won the FCS championship last season and defeated FBS team Temple by a field goal. This season, Villanova had the Owls on the ropes again before losing 31-24. Still, the highest level of college football is a different animal. Just ask Edsall. ‘I think the biggest thing is just to make sure you have the resources in play to be able to do the things that you need to do from a facilities standpoint, from a stadium standpoint,’ Edsall said. ‘I think those were the biggest two things we had. And also, to make sure that you have the finances available to be able to go out and recruit. ‘You know, Villanova’s in a nice area there, where there’s a lot of good football around them in a short driving distance.’ Heisman candidate Lewis struggling There were no stop signs in the prolific freshman season for Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis a year ago. There was hardly a speed bump. But now he’s enduring a sophomore slump. A year after rushing for 1,799 yards and 17 touchdowns, Lewis is struggling to find his stride. Through two games, Lewis has just 102 yards rushing on 35 carries (2.9 yards per carry). He was held to 75 yards on 25 carries by a talented Utah defense in a Week 1 loss. This past week, it was New Hampshire of the FCS that held him to just 27 yards on 10 carries. To put it in perspective, his career-low rushing total in his freshman year was 79 yards against Navy. He was held under four yards per carry just once in 2009. It’s already happened twice in 2010. ‘I think it’s a little bit (of a) combination between three new offensive linemen (and) a new tight end, and defenses zeroing in on him,’ Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt said in the Big East coaches teleconference Monday. ‘I think teams have been more one-sided and said, ‘This is what we’re going to stop, and if you can beat us doing the other things, go ahead.’ ‘ Big man on campus WR Mohamed Sanu Sophomore Rutgers (2-0) Last Week: 1-for-1, 24 yards, TD, nine carries, 44 yards, TD, four receptions, 25 yards Sanu did it all for Rutgers on Saturday against Florida International. For the Scarlet Knights’ sake, it’s a good thing he did. The quarterback threw a 24-yard pass to tight end D.C. Jefferson in the second quarter to put Rutgers up a field goal. Then in the fourth quarter, with the Scarlet Knights trailing by a point, the running back broke off a 24-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation. It proved to be the difference in a 19-14 win. The quarterback. The running back. The wide receiver. It was all the same player for the Scarlet Knights Saturday. Said Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano: ‘What you can’t coach is his athleticism, his toughness, his desire to play the game, his will to prepare.’ mcooperj@syr.edulast_img

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