The defending FCS champion Villanova Wildcats football program has an invitation to join the Big East in football, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The school is reportedly officially considering the offer. All we can say is "about damn time."
A jump by Villanova football would -- at least in the short term -- expand Big East football to nine programs and eliminate the scheduling headaches that Big East coaches have railed against over the past few years.
Currently, with only eight football-playing schools, the seven game Big East schedule forces programs to schedule five non-conference games. Many times, that extra non-conference game comes in the form of a guarantee game against the Texas Southerns, Norfolk States and Colgates of college football's lower division. Often these games come with a high price tag and Big East programs would welcome not having to schedule an extra non-conference game.
The good news is that if Villanova makes the jump, they will be looking for FBS opponents to fill up future non-conference schedules. Nova will likely continue their recently renewed series with Temple and look to other Eastern programs to fill up the schedule. But my guess is the Wildcats would also take a hard look at scheduling BC.
Former Big East foes, Villanova and Boston College not only share a religious affiliation, they also share quite a bit of history on the gridiron. The Wildcats and Eagles have faced one another 45 times. BC and Villanova played annually from 1945-1953 and from 1955-1980, after which the Villanova program was disbanded (later resurfacing as a I-AA program in 1985). BC holds a 29-15-1 edge in the series. Only Holy Cross (82) has played more games against the Eagles than Villanova all-time, making 'Nova BC's second most played opponent -- more than Navy, Army, Pittsburgh, Miami (Fla.) or West Virginia.
The two schools also draw a good number of students from the same area of the country. Not to mention DeFilippo's stop immediately before taking the top job at BC was at Villanova as Director of Athletics.
Villanova could easily replace the FCS opponent on BC's schedule, and the Eagles would get to play a Big East opponent that doesn't harbor the same hurt feelings as some of the old guard Big East programs. BC could have a game in the Philadelphia area every other year. The Philadelphia / New Jersey area has been a strong recruiting pipeline for the Eagles and the area is home to a good-sized alumni base as well.
Best of all, a 'Nova jump to Big East football also alleviates some of the pain points that our Big East neighbor to the South have been vocal in the past. The Big East adding a ninth football member might also curtail some of the calls for an annual BC-UConn series.
Of course, the ball is now in Villanova's court to conduct due diligence on a potential move to the top level of college football. They already turned down the Big East's overtures once -- in 1997 -- when the league invited both Connecticut and Villanova. Nova will have to weigh the potential risk of one or more current Big East football schools bolting to the Big Ten in the next round of conference musical chairs. The jump to I-A represents a large investment that Villanova might not be able to recoup if a Rutgers, Syracuse or Pitt decided to join the Big Ten.