It had all the makings of a scene from the Sopranos. Two individuals meeting in clandestine fashion in a New Jersey diner, talking about a deal that involved tens of millions of dollars.
But it wasn’t anything illegal or even illicit. It was a meeting that got the ball rolling for Temple to join the Big East.
Wednesday afternoon’s announcement that Temple will be joining the Big East was set in motion 16 months ago in an early morning breakfast confab between Owls athletic director Bill Bradshaw and conference commissioner John Marinatto. Temple will join the conference in football this season and then in all sports the following year.
“We were really talking about sort of the mutual interest, and John was catching up on a lot of the changes that were going on at Temple University in athletics and academics, the mission, some of the construction,” Bradshaw said of his meeting with Marinatto.
“He was asking me questions about Temple, he was asking him questions about the conference, particulars; we shared a lot of information. It was a terrific meeting.”
With West Virginia leaving the conference this year as well as Pittsburgh and Syracuse bolting to the ACC as early as next year, the inclusion of Temple in addition to the recent expansion which includes Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, San Diego State, and Southern Methodist University now gives the oddly named conference a large national footprint. The Big East may have a strong western flavor, but with Temple helping to lock down the strong Philadelphia market, it also has a lot of potential eyeballs for a new television deal.
“As we prepare for the future and our new membership structure, I am proud to say that the Big East Conference has improved its total television household's footprint by over 20 percent, including 13 of the top 50 markets, spanning four time zones,” Marinatto said.
“We have added the potential for a football championship game as soon as 2013. We moved to a balanced eight-game league schedule in football, and our members represent six of the top-10 football recruiting states in the country.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from the Big East tournament.