New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has been on a country-wide Big East tour since he took control of the conference in August.
In a campaign-style pledge, he said that he would visit all of the Big East outposts in meet and greet sessions. Aresco’s theme was constant: “We’re as good as we ever were in basketball and we’re better than people think in football.”
Visiting the Big East is tougher than it used to be since it will stretch from San Diego to Tampa and from Providence to Boise in what eventually will be a 17-team basketball conference and a 14 team football conference.
“I don’t think there is any question that we remain the premier league in basketball,” said Aresco, who argues that adding Temple and Memphis in basketball will counter the impact of losing Syracuse, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12. “And I think that we are highly competitive in football. I don’t buy for a minute that we are the worst of the BCS leagues in football.”
You can argue both points with Aresco, who in addition to traveling to Big East campus sites, is heavily involved in negotiations of a new football television contract for the conference, as well as working to assure the Big East of a spot in a six or seven bowl BCS type bowl plan that will replace the current system. Part of the new format will also be a 4-team playoff.
The first wave of expansion will begin next season with the addition of 6 teams in football–Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Memphis, Boise State and San Diego State, which will increase the total to 12. But since Navy is scheduled to join the league in 2015, which would make 13, the Big East needs a 14th team.
While Aresco won’t publicly reveal the leading candidate for the 14th spot, several sources say that BYU is once again the primary target to solidify the Big East’s “western” wing, but also give it more national exposure and credibility as a BCS type conference.
Forget the name Big East in terms of geographical connections. College football has become expansion on steroids, with the Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC all going beyond their geographical foot prints.
Aresco, a former executive at CBS, knows that the future is in television footprints. And with Boise, which has become much more of a household name with its success over the past several years, the Big East will have a marquee team to promote. Adding BYU, which has a national championship in football and its own television network, as well as a national recruiting pattern, will increase that exposure.
Aresco, who will be in Denver–perhaps a side trip to Provo, Utah( BYU) will be in the works as well-next month for the next series of BCS meetings, also argue that Rutgers’ success this year–the Scarlet Knights are unbeaten and ranked 15th in the latest BCS rankings–also has helped increase Big East exposure.
Aresco is not a gloom and doom commissioner. He also is a realist and knows what the market will pay.
With Boise State coming to the Big East he has a marketing chip he can use. Adding BYU and then even Navy in a few years, will just increase that value.
Now all he has to do is put it together and make it work.
The first step will be to create the divisions and compile a balanced schedule that will maximise exposure and rivalries.
History suggests that the best way to do that is with two 7 team divisions, playing 6 games within the division and two cross-over games each season.
That will be followed by a championship game, which will be held at the site of the conference team with the best record.
Using the parameters of adding Navy and BYU as the 13th and 14th team in the equation, the new Big East could look like this.
1. Boise State
2. South Florida
2. Central Florida
7. San Diego State
The main rivalry cross over games each season could be:
Navy-San Diego State
The other cross over games would be on a rotating basis each year, which would allow every team in the conference to face every other team at least once during a four or five-year cycle. Throw in an aggressive non-conference schedule for each team and Aresco feels the new Big East will be a prime player in the new look of colllege football.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.