PHILADELPHIA -- Temple's football program finally is going to get its wish tomorrow -- a conference to call its own.
The Philadelphia Daily News has learned that athletic directors from Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College and Miami, the four Big East Conference schools with Division I status in football, will meet then in Washington and will vote to assimilate the Owls into a Big East football league along with independents Rutgers, West Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Temple, which has been seeking a conference affiliation in football for years, was ecstatic to learn that approval seems a certainty.
"If something like this should work, right now, as we're speaking, we would have been boarding planes to a bowl game because we would have been second or third in Big East football rather than the second- or third-best independent in the East," Temple athletic director Charles Theokas said.
"A conference like this should give our program more clout. And it should do wonders for the rest of Eastern football."
Temple, Rutgers and West Virginia will remain in the Atlantic 10 in all other sports. Virginia Tech, currently a member of the thinned-out Metro Conference, is expected to decide shortly whether to stay put or switch to either the A-10 or the Colonial Conference for sports other than football. No timetable for the start of league play has been determined.
"I don't expect any official announcement to be made until sometime in January," Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said. "[Boston College's longtime athletic director] Bill Flynn is leaving. Pitt's Ed Bozik is leaving. So, they're nervous about doing it right away. [Miami's] Sam Jankovich wants to go, too. [Syracuse's] Jake Crouthamel has just sort of said, 'Hey, this is something we're going to have to live with, so let's do it the right way.' "
Once the concept of Big East football is in place, athletic directors at the eight schools are expected to begin discussions on revenue sharing, potential network and cable TV packages, possible bowl tie-ins, officiating and scheduling.
Though the new league will consist of eight teams, there is a possibility that some schools already committed to certain dates may want to play only six conference games.
Tranghese is in the process of drawing up a document that will force the eight schools to make a 10-year commitment to Big East football. There will be a serious financial penalty for any school that chooses to leave the conference before the contract expires.
"That document will also say that under no circumstances can they collectively group together to try to form their own all-sports conference," Tranghese said.