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More Signs Villanova Looks Like It Will Be Big East-Bound
The Wildcats would begin Big East play possibly by 2014.
As April approaches, the news seems more and more imminent that Villanova will announce it will move its football program to the Football Bowl Subdivision level (Division I-A) and join the Big East in football, possibly for the 2014 season.
So far, what is known is that Villanova will be building a football support building where the east end zone is located.
A number of Big East sources have confirmed that Villanova is the leading contender to make the Big East a 10-team conference in football. The Big East is currently the smallest Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference in the country.
Secondly, Villanova itself has been trying to drum up support from alumni for the program and the new football support building. According to a recent story in the Sporting News, “members of the athletic administration held a meeting for ‘major boosters’ at the Syracuse basketball game. That meeting included a speech from Villanova coach Andrew Talley as well as pledges from some donors. VUhoops.com also reported that ‘prominent’ Board of Trustees members have been ‘telegraphing’ their votes to major donors.”
The Big East has been looking to expand in football to strengthen the conference in fear of the league being raided by the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast conferences, with prime Big East candidates Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Rutgers as possible departures. If any two, or all three, of those schools left the conference, it would weaken the Big East in basketball, too.
If Villanova, which currently plays at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level and won the 2009 FCS national title, entered its football program in the Big East Conference that already includes all other Villanova sports, it would bolster the conference and maybe prevent a raid from another conference.
Right now, with Villanova’s basketball team struggling, the prospect of the Wildcats joining the Big East in football is one of the more positive sports news items on the Radnor campus. The shame of it is, if Villanova does make the move, it won’t affect anyone currently on the team.
“To be honest, I’m not that informed on the subject and I’m kind of indifferent since I’m out of the program,” said Villanova’s massive senior offensive lineman Ben Ijalana, a possible first-round NFL draft choice in late-April and 2010 Maxwell Club honoree. “Right now, I’m working independently and working toward my degree in criminal justice. But Villanova has been good to me, and anything that helps the school, I’m for. During the season, we heard things, but we didn’t talk too much about it. Our focus was on winning games. It’s something we never really looked that deeply into, since I really don’t think it effects any of the current players, or players like me who are about to graduate.”
And though Talley isn’t permitted to openly comment on the possible move, some sources close to the program do admit that he’s very much behind the move, evident in not only the new level of players Talley recruited this past season, but in how hard he’s been banging the drum to alumni.
“Coach Talley is very much behind this,” said one Villanova source close to the program. “This is like his baby. I can understand why, with the chance to revamp the whole program and all the time he’s put into the program. The fact that he’s won the national title and could make Villanova a winner at the [FBS] level is a big deal to him, and the alumni. It looks like it’s a move they have to make, and with everything they’ve put into the studies and reaching out to the alumni and the area residents, it looks more and more like a move they will make.”
By Joseph Santoliquito, Bryn Mawr-Gladwyne Patch