Interesting that Tom Jurich, the University of Louisville athletic director, appeared to be supportive of Villanova becoming the 10th football member of the Big East Conference, telling Eric Crawford of the Courier-Journal:

“They’re already in the footprint of our league, and they’ve got a history with this league and done a lot of great things. For them, a lot of it is going to be logistics. … Villanova is a strong program right now. There’s a strong argument that they could finish in the middle of our league right now, at 63 scholarships.”

His observations coming at a time when just about everybody else seems to have written Villanova off as a viable candidate. On the other hand, Jurich indicates he likes the current composition of the league and the ability to balance football scheduling.

We are left to conclude that Jurich believes Villanova, with more creative planning and resource development, could still become a football member.  And if further expansion were to occur, possibly only one other team would be needed, capping expansion at 11 football schools for scheduling purposes. Come to think of it, Jurich has never shared any thoughts about a conference championship game, which would require 12 schools.

The comments are all the more intriguing in light of Conference Commissioner John Marinatto’s recent comment that the conference’s expansion issues will be resolved by September 2012. Which would be remarkable, considering the way things have evolved at a snail’s pace thus far.

So many questions, so few answers forthcoming in such a brief period of time. Anytime someone in the conference does say anything about expansion, the issue becomes more clouded it seems.

Jurich is no exception, providing only enough insight into his thinking to keep people guessing about what he really knows or doesn’t know, or what he thinks is possible or realistic.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

11 thoughts on “Jurich fogs Big East expansion picture”
  1. Would the addition of Villanova with Army and Navy get them to 12 teams? I’m thinking that’s where this is all headed. Fine with me. It may not improve the quality or perception of Big East football, but it should help the tv contract and not hurt our chances of winning the conference.

    1. Perception doesn’t matter in terms of top to bottom quality of teams, in my opinion. I think what’s more important is have an undefeated team, so you need some creampuffs that everyone can beat-up on. TCU got respected cause it kept going undefeated, which it obviously wouldn’t have happened in the SEC or even the Big 12. If you can keep TCU undefeated most of the year, and get a second team that is undefeated most of the year, the Big East will suddenly be respected.

  2. Jurich’s support of Villanova as a football member may entail more than meets the eye. No way Villanova can accelerate football the way UConn did (unless they get an Urban Meyer).
    It appears that the addition of TCU solidifies the Big East’s status with the BCS giving U of L at least a shot at a Big Bowl for the next few years. Jurich may not want any more strong contenders who could block the Cards’ path to the BCS bowl. Villanova could provide easy league wins for U of L for several years.

  3. Adding ‘Nova in football is putting the BIG EAST back in the situation it was in before TCU joined. It would create a situation where UofL would have to play 5 home games and 4 away games one year…and then have to play 5 away games and 4 home games the next year. Better to have the same amount of home and away conference games each year…because of scheduling and such. Bringing in opponents for a home game with no return visit once every two years is expensive.

    The answer, if Nova is to play BIG EAST football, is to bring in another school with them…giving the BIG EAST 11 football schools…or 5 away and home games in conference each year.

    East Carolina is the logical addition. Hoist the Pirates aboard the BIG EAST ship.

  4. Charlie: Why doen’t Mr. Jurich want to expand to 12 football schools. The Big East needs to expand to 12 and hold a CCG to maximize revenue for all the football schools. I don’t understand his position on Villanova. It doesn’t help the football schools. Whe have 9 AD’s who can’t come to a concencus on expansion. What a mess. Tks, Mr. P.

    1. Gary, I believe Tom obviously knows more than he’s saying, holding the cards close to his vest. Who can really blame him? There’s a lot at stake for any number of schools inside and outside of the Big East. Caution is warranted.

  5. Of course, they all know more than they are saying, but draw conclusions from what they pretend to believe. For one point, why would any television network throw train loads of money at a weak sister football conference simply because it is the last one to be negotiated? The imagined national interest in watching Rutgers or UConn play football (especially against each other) is not there. Is the BE pipe dream likely to draw viewers away from an Alabama-Auburn game or a Florida-Florida State game? Face it, Louisville playing anyone is not likely to put a dent in one of those games. So, why does the BE think that interest in BE football is going to soar and lead to an $11M per school contract? I don’t think the BE ADs really think that is going to happen. That idea has been thrown up as a smoke screen to hide the Keystone Kops expansion effort.

    It is obvious now that some in the BE have wanted Villanova as the tenth school since the very beginning. Discussion of other schools has been another smoke screen. At the moment of decision, three schools said NO. They did not want to have a school added that could not fill a 40-50K seat stadium. Playing in an 18K seat soccer stadium does not pay their bills. Football at this level costs money and Villanova would be a permanent red entry in their balance sheets. In effect, they would be paying to support a program that added nothing to the league in football. Should Louisville support Villanova’s bid? Sure, if they want to have a permanent anchor around their program’s neck.

    How many butts do you think will be in the seats at Papa John’s Stadium to see Villanova?

  6. I can just see it now, an early November game in Philly, against a 1-6 Villanova team in front of 10,000 screaming fans crammed into their 18,500 seat stadium. BCS conference game at its best.

  7. The BE with anything less than 12 teams is a disaster waiting to happen. The networks will pay for inventory of games. The greater the inventory the better. No CCG without 12. Nova is a charity add, no one will pay to see them. Bring in UCF and Houston as full members and Boise State as a football only member. And do not wait until September 2012 to do it.
    John Marinatto is less than an aggressive and inspiring leader so the AD’s must take concerted action.

  8. I like the way you think, Red, except when it comes to Houston. Lack of fan support has always been a problem there. East Carolina, drawing 50,000 fans per game, makes more sense to me, regardless of the size of the TV markets.

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