Dunphy: Temple is ‘great option’ for leagues looking to expand

Before offering his thoughts on the best possible outcome of conference realignment for his basketball program, longtime Temple coach Fran Dunphy paused to choose his words carefully.

"I want to be cautious how I answer the questions," he said.

It's understandable for Dunphy to want to tread gingerly because Temple is in a sensitive position. The ever-improving Atlantic 10 has been a good home for its basketball program and the MAC has at least provided stability for the rebirth of Temple's football program, but the Owls feel they'd be wasting an opportunity if they don't explore joining the Big East or another BCS league.

"We have a terrific basketball conference that we're in and I also think our football program is well-positioned," Dunphy said. "I don't want to minimize that, but if there are some other opportunities, we're open to looking into them.

"We think we're absolutely positioned for a number of different conferences and if anyone wants to move their footprint into the Philadelphia area, I think we're a great option."

The combination of Temple's formidable basketball program and strong alumni base in the Philadelphia market have always been assets, but it's the resurgence of the Owls' football program that has made it a candidate for Big East expansion. After years of football futility, Temple won a combined 17 games the past two years and still stands at 5-4 this season despite a two-game losing streak.

One of the stumbling blocks reportedly preventing Temple from landing an invitation from the Big East has been opposition from Villanova. At Big East Media Day two weeks ago, Jay Wright denied that the Wildcats are trying to keep Temple basketball out of the league to maintain a stranglehold on Philadelphia recruiting but acknowledged that he believes Vilanova football should get in ahead of the Owls. {YSP:MORE}

"Whatever they do with Temple is great. Just put Villanova in for football, that's all," Wright said. "We're 30-year members. If they want to put Temple in, great. We have great respect for Temple. We know all the positives that would come if they came in. Just put Villanova in for football, period."

Basketball coaches don't have much input on realignment because the process has been so football-driven, but Dunphy said his administration has at least kept him in the loop when other conferences have reached out to Temple. Rather than openly lobby for a spot in the Big East or push to stay in the more stable Atlantic 10, he prefers to highlight the fact that Temple should be an attractive option for any conference.

"We think we're in terrific position," Dunphy said. "We have all the infrastructure we need. We have very much a thriving football program. We play in a great facility. We have a great facility for basketball. We have so much graduates that live in the Philadelphia area. We have 39,000 students. We're in the fourth or fifth largest market. So we think we have a fantastic product. We think we're extremely well positioned if someone thinks we're worthy of joining one of the super conferences."

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