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Ohio's Gerald Moore tackles Temple's Chris Coyer during Ohio's Blackout Night at Peden Stadium, Athens, Ohio, on November 2, 2011. Ohio won 35-31.

Football: Temple's departure drops MAC down to uneven 13-team conference format

After five years of playing football in the Mid-American Conference, the Owls have flown the coop.

The MAC announced Wednesday that Temple would be leaving the league immediately to join the Big East Conference for football. The Owls are members of the Atlantic-10 Conference in every other sport and will leave that league to join the Big East in all other sports before the 2013–14 school year.

As part of its settlement agreement, Temple will pay $6 million to the MAC. The school plans for that money to come from additional athletics revenue associated with the Big East.

Temple will replace West Virginia in the Big East to give the conference eight football programs for the 2012 season. West Virginia will pay the Big East $20 million after reaching a settlement that allows the Mountaineers to join the Big 12 effective July 1.

Meanwhile, the MAC drops from its “super-conference” status of 14 teams to 13. The MAC has played with 13 football members since Temple joined the league in 2007, with seven teams playing in the MAC East and six in the MAC West. Bowling Green switched divisions after the 2011 season to accommodate Massachusetts’s membership in the conference.

But the Falcons will move back to their familiar perch in the East, and UMass simply stands in as Temple’s replacement. The conference will now realign its 2012 conference schedule and will release the new matchups in about three weeks, said Ken Mather, the MAC’s assistant commissioner for media and public relations.

“Temple University requested to be released from its obligation as a football-only member of providing two seasons’ prior notice before departing the Mid-American Conference,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement. “As a result, the conference and its member institutions engaged in a dialogue with Temple regarding an appropriate resolution. We have come to an agreement that is fair to the parties involved.”

After leaving the Big East in 2004 for falling short of Big East athletic standards, Temple joined the MAC in 2007 and never won a divisional or conference crown but steadily improved from a hapless independent team into a respectable program. For the last three years, the Owls went a combined 26-12 with two bowl appearances.

Ohio was 4-1 against Temple during their shared time in the MAC and has won the last three matchups between the schools. Because Ohio was already scheduled to face Bowling Green in 2012, the MAC will replace the Bobcats’ game against the Owls with a MAC West opponent.

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