I agree Temple has few options before them, and would not disavow the school a move if they felt is was in their best interest. (I'm on the record saying Marshall and Temple should be in the MAC, so I'll stick with that, I guess!) Particularly for their football program, which has now dug a hole that the BE will not pull them out of for at least 6 years, if ever. And no, I don't expect Temple football to thrive as an independent.
I'm not so sure it is the football program that has dug a hole that the BE won't pull them out of so much that it is really the Temple administration that has really dug the hole. BE doesn't want Temple though, for whatever reason.
Nor do I think CUSA should act in anything less than it's own interest reagrding partial members. However, the partial member concept isn't by itself a bad concept. Few would argue Army and Navy could pull off football only memberships in the right league, knowing their other sports are happy, and more suited, in the Patriot (?) League. And CUSA may find the option more appealing if no other candidate adds to the revenue stream: Why pay La. Tech a full member share if the net football profit can be realized by borrowing the Owl football team for far less? The difference in scope and scale between 1-A football and other sports is what has set off this string of realignments in the first place, proving how tough it is to find a perfect match in this game.
Here's probably what's putting C-USA in a bind:
1. C-USA lost a ton in basketball. C-USA might have been able to survive a Cincy, Louisville, and South Florida move to the Big East, but as we all know, the BE took a lot more than that. CUSA only brought in one top basketball program, Tulsa, to offset that loss. That's the equivalent of just replacing Cincy or Louisville. Not both, and certainly doing nothing to replace the losses of UNCC, Marquette, Depaul (sure they stunk, but they still carry a marquis name in basketball and they get ESPN a lot more than Southern Miss or Houston basketball teams do. ), and St. Louis.
2. CUSA lost good football teams in Louisville and TCU. Cincy and USF really don't factor into the equation here, but UL and TCU definitely do. CUSA managed to replace Louisville with Marshall, but they have yet to replace TCU in football.
This is why I question CUSA's going after SMU, Rice, and even to certain extent, UCF. I don't see SMU adding anything to football or basketball, nor do I see Rice adding anything to football or basketball either. UCF replaces USF, but that's it. Could SMU and/or Rice, UCF eventually replace TCU, Louisville (basketball), Marquette, et. all? Maybe, but it will take time to do so. Time that CUSA may not have.
Agan, I'm not ruling out a Temple/ CUSA marriage, just some gut feelings prevent me from openly embracing a move. I honestly expect the MAC to face some changes in the next 2-3 years due to 1-A standards and/or more realignment, and I think Temple would fit much better there (than CUSA). Temple's situation differs from some of the other schools mentioned, as well. ECU and the other remaining CUSA schools have some established relations and fewer choices right now. If they could choose, however, the sense is several schools would rather be elsewhere if invited. For those reasons, I hope Temple can make the right decisions for their athletics programs. (Insert your "That'd be a first" joke here.)
Call me crazy, but I see the MAC going after Army soon. The BE could still pick up Army, but I honestly don't see it happening. Navy actually has leg up on Army as far as BE membership is concerned because of two reasons:
1. ND still plays Navy. That gives Navy two guaranteed tv appearances (the other is vs Army.)
2. Navy plays a lot of BE teams. Army has played BE teams before too, but I believe Navy has played more BE teams than Army has.
You could add another reason which would be that Navy has been more competitive lately than Army has. That could change, but that's the way things are now.
Army and CUSA really don't work, and its obvious why it does not. But Army could really work out well in the MAC, where travel expenses wouldn't be as great.
I don't think travel costs for Temple would be as bad in CUSA as they were for Army.