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Big East may cast invite to Villanova

PHILADELPHIA — Villanova's Division I-AA national championship football program could be Big East bound.

The conference informed the Wildcats that it is interested in adding them, which would put all Villanova's varsity programs under the Big East banner if the school accepts an invitation to join.

School president Peter Donohue wrote a letter to alumni saying the university will evaluate the opportunity. There was no comment from the Big East.

"This is a complicated issue with numerous, multidimensional factors that come into play, and it is important that we investigate scenarios related to making — or not making — such a move," Donohue wrote.

Donohue did not say when the school would make a decision, but it won't be until the board of trustees "conducts a careful and complete analysis" of all the factors. Among the factors are upgrading the football stadium or finding somewhere else to play.

Villanova, which plays in the Colonial Athletic Association, won the I-AA title last year and would move up to Division I-A. The Big East has eight teams, including USF, and adding a ninth would lessen some of the scheduling issues that arise each season.

Villanova has been part of the Big East basketball conference since 1980.

Athletic director Vince Nicastro said Big East commissioner John Marinatto approached school officials shortly before Labor Day and expressed interest in expansion. No formal offer was made. Instead, it's more of a mutual-interest courtship.

Nicastro said there is no official timetable for a decision.

If Villanova makes the move, it would have a phase-in period and a mandatory two-year provisional period, leaving 2014 or 2015 as a possible rookie year.

No. 23 West Virginia 24, Marshall 21, OT: The Mountaineers rallied from 15 down in the fourth quarter to force overtime, and Tyler Bitancurt's 20-yard field goal in overtime lifted them to 10-0 all time over the Thundering Herd. Brian Anderson threw three touchdown passes for Marshall, which coughed up a 21-6 lead. West Virginia's Geno Smith threw a 5-yard scoring pass to Will Johnson with 12 seconds left, then hit Jock Sanders on a 2-point conversion try. After Bitancurt's third field goal, Marshall's Tyler Warner missed a 39-yard attempt wide right. "Mountaineers never quit," West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. "Everyone who counted us out, it was just a bump in the road. You saw resolve and grit, and a team who became tighter."

Saban pokes Boise State: On his weekly radio show, Alabama coach Nick Saban suggested he'd be more impressed with No. 3 Boise State if it had to run the table playing in the SEC instead of getting up for one big game a year. "It's the full body of work," he said, according to the Birmingham News. "It's not just that you can beat one team, but if you have to beat six or seven other teams and have to play with consistency to do it, I think that goes a long way in saying a lot about what kind of football team that you have.."

Another take: Coach Mack Brown of No. 5 Texas was asked if he would be okay with seeing No. 4 TCU or Boise State, teams from conferences without an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game, playing for a national title? "The way the (BCS) rules are, absolutely," Brown told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. "If you don't like it, change the rules." Brown also said an undefeated Texas should "be in the mix at the end."

South Carolina: Cornerback Chris Culliver and left tackle Jarriel King were cleared by the NCAA to play against Georgia. The school did not say what questions regarding the players were being reviewed.

Big East may cast invite to Villanova 09/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 11, 2010 1:33am]

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