Change Of Plans

It was nine months ago that Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw sat on a podium in Madison Square Garden with Steve Addazio to his right and the president of Villanova to his left, a day that looked like one of the greatest in the history of Temple athletics.

It was nine months ago that Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw sat on a podium in Madison Square Garden with Steve Addazio to his right and the president of Villanova to his left, a day that looked like one of the greatest in the history of Temple athletics.

It was a day the Owls announced their long anticipated full-membership arrival in a BCS Conference. Not just any BCS Conference, but the Big East, the league Temple had long coveted.

Oh, how times have changed.

On Thursday, Bradshaw moved closer to finding a replacement for Addazio, who bolted after two seasons to take the head coaching job at Boston College. The short-term football coach got out as the cracks in the Big East foundation started to show.

The seven non-football playing members of the Big East – many of who are critical to the league's basketball identity – are reportedly set to announce their intention to split from the rest of the conference. That means the Owls won't be joining teams like Villanova – as well as Georgetown, Marquette and St. John's - in one of the country's best hoops leagues.

Assuming the rest of the Big East stays intact, there are still games against Connecticut, Cincinnati and Memphis to look forward to, but for how long?

And on the football side, while there are still the remnants of a competitive league in place, there will be a lot of athletic directors and Big East conference executives who will exhale once all the West Coast teams finally spend their first official day in the Big East.

It was probably a coincidence, but the Big East releasing its conference opponents this week seemed like a statement that preparations for the upcoming season are underway and don't anybody try any funny business.

There are the possibilities for a true East-West football conference. Temple, Cincinnati, South Florida, Central Florida, Connecticut and East Carolina could comprise the East, with Memphis, Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Tulane in the West – though only nine of those schools are basketball-playing members.

Suddenly, the viability of the basketball league is a lot shakier than the football conference.

National College Football Insider Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports reported the final two candidates to replace Addazio are former offensive coordinator Matt Rhule and former defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, who two years ago declined to pursue the position when it was all but his and instead followed Al Golden to Miami (Fla.).

It's also a change from two years ago for Rhule, who was a candidate before Addazio was hired but wasn't viewed as desirable as some other more-high profile names. Two years later, having thrived under Addazio and spending most of a season with the New York Giants under two-time Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Coughlin, Rhule seems to have elevated his resume.

Rhule also brings stability, and right now, there's nothing Temple needs more than stability.

As much as the perception of Rhule has changed in the last two years, it pales in comparison to how much change Bradshaw has seen since sitting on that podium in New York nine months ago.

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