Finally it might be happening, Expansion may be winding its way down to the MAC. Two huge developments this week might start to reshape the conference.
Firstly there is the TCU and the Big East getting into bed together. This, plus the offer to Villinova and the consensus that the next in line after that is UCF kind of puts Temple in a place where they have to take a long look in the Mirror and realize "The Big East Just ain't into you". So the Owls hove a few options:
- Bolt to CUSA for all Sports (Plus is better bowls than the MAC down side is worse basketball than the A-10 an way more travel involved for the non revenue teams)
- Go all in to the MAC (Plus is a fixed conference relationship, the down side is far worse basketball than the A-10 an a slightly increased travel schedule).
- Keep the current arrangement with the MAC
Obviously if *nothing* else changes Temple wants option number three. They get their basketball conference, they get their non revenue travel, and they get tie ins to the MAC Bowls and easy football Schedule. But there is a down side for both Temple and the MAC. Every few years they have to sit across each other from a table and figure out if this still "works".
It's like being perpetually engaged. Sure you're committed, even seriously so. You probably share a dwelling, and have a pet together but there is little in the way of pressure to keep the relationship going. One poorly spoken word, one late night out could mean the en of the relationship. Marriage, in addition to other things, pushes couples to really work through tough issues.
So what kind of dowry does the MAC need to come up with? I have been a huge proponent of getting the biggest shiny ring we can to get the Owls to walk down the Isle. As a guest on the MAC Daily podcast I once joked that the MAC should offer Temple all home games for conference basketball and annual tributes to get them to bring their basketball to the MAC.
The next best, and more plausible, thing the conference could do is try to improve the basketball footprint. Give Temple some reason to think that going from the A-10 to the MAC would not be a huge step down. Enter UMass who is seriously looking to move FBS and now rumors are surfacing in serious media outlets.
According to several sources, UMass would take its program, currently in the Football Championship Subdivision, to the Mid-American Conference, whose football schools include Temple, Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio. -- Boston Herald
So what does this mean for the MAC? It means a chance to grow east, into basketball schools. It's unlikely that UMass would move all sports over at the current time. They have the same concerns that Temple has and MAC fans need to acknowledge that those are valid reasons not to move.
Rather than trying to justify MAC Basketball or downplay how basketball is less important than football accept, and address the reasons that MAC hoops just is not attractive enough for schools like UMass an Temple. The MAC has something that these schools, and others want. A FBS conference to land in. They have something we want the power needed to rebuild the MAC into a multi bid hoops conference.
So let UMass and Temple get and maintain football only, for now. Then go after other decent East Coach Basketball schools looking to move up. Go further into the A-10 (or elsewhere) to dig out two other teams that both can play on the courts and want to take on Bowl Subdivision level football. Then with four east Coast teams and Kent, Akron, Ohio you have the makings of a good little mid major, multibid hoops conference.
Richmond, JMU, and Delaware are all decent basketball programs (some more than others) who may be looking for FBS football. Bring them in and bring the conference to 16 members. Arrange the divisions as follows:
Keep non revenue sports mostly intra-divisional even if it means that Temple would not play volleyball against NIU except perhaps in the MAC tournament. That addresses the travel cost. This adds some serious markets to the conference, adds some basketball names, and helps move the MAC beyond the Big10s footprint (ever so slightly).