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Could WVU scheduling possibilities include MU?

Goodbye Temple, and don't let the door hit you in the ...

One can only imagine that the preceding represents the league-wide sentiment following Wednesday night's dismissal of the Owls from the Big East Conference. Who could possibly lament the loss of a program with no following, no fans and no true home stadium.

What? No more trips to the ACL-tear-waiting-to-happen that is Veterans Stadium? No more nothing-to-win games played before dozens of raucous on-lookers? Chess tournaments draw better crowds.

Granted, the product itself is improving. Temple coach Bobby Wallace has improved the talent throughout, and the Owls are increasingly competitive, but the overall package offered exactly nothing to the league's future.

Good riddance. Let's move on.

Specifically, how does this affect West Virginia?

In Wednesday's announcement, the league office did not specify when Temple will leave the Big East, but it could be before the 2001 season. Big East associate commissioner John Paquette said there would be no official word from the league released on Thursday.

Should Temple be given the immediate boot, West Virginia and other league schools would be free to fill that date with another opponent.

"There are various scenarios that could take place," West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong said on Thursday. "Life could go on as normal (Temple stays for 2001), or if the departure was earlier the conference office would need to make arrangements and adjustments accordingly."

Of course, should the Big East recruit a replacement for Temple, the point of WVU finding new opponents is moot. Again, no official word from the league office on Thursday, but Pastilong listed Notre Dame and Navy as potential members.

In 2002 and 2003, West Virginia is scheduled for 12-game seasons. In 2002, WVU hosts non-conference foes Maryland, East Carolina and Chattanooga and visits Cincinnati and Wisconsin. In 2003, the Mountaineers host Wisconsin, Central Florida and Cincinnati and visit Maryland and East Carolina.

With Temple gone, this would give Pastilong "the opportunity to get a sixth and seventh home game if another member did not join," he said.

As the 10-minute telephone interview with Pastilong wound to a close, both reporter and athletic director could sense the inevitable. No conversation concerning West Virginia football scheduling would be complete without the mention of a certain Mid-American Conference champion to the south.

The school wasn't even mentioned.

"You know I have do this," said the reporter.

"I know what you're going to say," Pastilong said with a near-chuckle.

"People are going to want to know your reaction to those who say this is another opportunity to play them," was the quasi-question.

"We would be very receptive to hosting Marshall in Morgantown," was the immediate response.

Here we go again.

Sports editor Anthony Hanshew can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at ahanshew@exponent-telegram.com.

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