Thursday, September 16, 2010


This weekend the reputable Philadelphia papers were agog with “confirmed rumors” that Villanova has been offered a BCS football conference bid.

If Villanova want its football program to move up from the Football Championship Subdivision level to join the Big East, all the university has to do is say yes. The Daily News has learned that the Big East, one of six BCS conferences, has asked the Wildcats to make the jump.

And the school is officially considering the offer.

"The Big East very recently communicated its interest in adding Villanova as a football member," Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro told the Daily News yesterday. "As a result, we have decided to embark on an in-depth evaluation of this opportunity.
Regular readers of Frank Helps You Think It All Out know I feel the Big Five occasionally has real relevance for how to Tulane runs its athletic programs. Here we have Villanova- which shares some similarities with Tulane, right? A leafy, yet urban, private school with 6500 undergrads that, on paper, is hemorrhaging money* on a FCS football program that no one nationally really cares about (Quick: who is the 2009 FCS champion?), buried behind a wildly popular NFL franchise and Penn State. The Wildcats care about their reputation- so student athletes need to go to class and be citizens. Their stadium situation isn’t good- looking at playing I-A games in an 18K soccer stadium (PPL Park in Chester) a good 20 miles from campus.

Yet, they’re in…. if they want?

One could lazily point to the fact they’re in the League for basketball… but I’m unsure. They were passed over in earlier expansions (including for Temple!)- so they needed to demonstrate something else, something additional, besides the serendipity to join this little Catholic basketball league a generation ago.

Which probably indicates there are lessons here for Tulane moving forward in terms of “improving” their visage to suitors in this upcoming decade of consolidation and looting of second tier leagues.

Villanova can’t point to attendance, specific alumni interest, realistic stadium option or facilities; neither can Tulane (except for the Superdome). But it can point to success in the two things that matter- the almighty revenue sports: men’s basketball and football. The Wildcats have run successful programs in track and wrestling- but they count for little outside the immediate stakeholders and a handful of alumni. But they can demonstrate competence in wringing dollars and success from the revenue engines.

Tulane ought not to forget this- the baseball team is, ultimately a distraction and indulgence, as are the other sports. They ought to be funded accordingly.

*Villanova admits to a $4M football loss on $5M revenues in another article last weekend