On Monday, Villanova University -- which was set to vote this week to decide whether to make the jump to Big East football and Division I -- decided to postpone the vote to the "near future." The board of trustees was scheduled to vote on the issue today.
The hang up appears to be Villanova's decision to use PPL Park in Chester, Pa. as its home stadium:
"The chief sticking point, according to the source, is Villanova's plan to use PPL Park in Chester, the 18,500-seat home of the Philadelphia Union, as its primary venue.
PPL Park would be the smallest stadium in the league. Potential plans to increase the seating capacity to roughly 30,000 have not convinced all the Big East schools to support the move. However, some Big East football members are in favor, and it still could be approved, the source said."
Forgive the rest of the Big East for being only lukewarm to the idea of adding a football program playing in a stadium smaller than 119 other Division I-A college football programs. Not to mention the fact that Villanova's campus is some 18 miles from PPL Park in Chester. Because the Big East needs to give the rest of college football even more things to make fun of?
Now if I'm a Union season ticket holder, why would I want my pristine MLS soccer stadium expanded to 30,000? The second year MLS team seems to have a good thing going with a current stadium capacity of 18.5. Expanding the stadium to 30k would take something away from the game experience the Union has created. Not to mention PPL Park sitting half-full in the fall the first time TCU, South Florida or Louisville make the trip up to Chester.
If I'm the Big East, am I that hard up for a tenth football playing member that I'm giving an open-door policy to a FCS football program that wants to play its home games in an 18,500-seat soccer stadium? The move makes even less sense when a school like Central Florida is practically knocking down the door to join in on the Big East football fun.
Finally, if I'm 'Nova, what makes me possibly think that I'm going to fill up PPL Park with 30,000 screaming Wildcat football fans on six to eight Saturdays every fall? They do realize that Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Syracuse aren't coming to town every Saturday, right? For every game against those "power" Big East teams, there will always be a home date against USF, Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU. No disrespect to those programs. They are just really, really far from Philadelphia.
Finally, this says nothing of the fact that non-conference opponents will laugh in 'Nova's face if they expect them to play at an 18,500-seat (or even an 30,000-seat) PPL Park. I'm sure Notre Dame is lining up to open up the Philadelphia market to play in PPL Park.
Seriously though. What about Villanova Big East football -- other than opening up the Philadelphia TV market for the Big East -- is attractive to the conference? I get the move from 'Nova's vantage point. They are desperately looking to shore up its Big East basketball investment.
But from the league's viewpoint, I don't get it. Like, at all. I understand the need for a tenth football program and the attractiveness of the Philadelphia TV market, but waiting on an FCS program to mature while playing in one of the smallest venues in the country reeks of desperation. Especially when there is an equally viable option already in Philadelphia (Temple ... granted, they've been down this road once before) and the largest public university in the country begging you to join in Central Florida. What about 10 football and 18 basketball-playing schools is any less attractive than 10 football / 17 basketball programs? If college football is the tail that wags the dog of collegiate athletics, why is Marinatto still running the conference as a basketball-first one?
For all the above-mentioned reasons, Villanova football is your reminder today that Boston College's move to the ACC was a really, really good decision.