Big East ready to respond

Having absorbed a direct hit by losing the Catholic 7 group of schools over the weekend, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is about to go into a battle mode with a series of moves designed to not only reinvigorate his embattled league, but also put it in position to emerge as a viable 6th conference that could sit at the table with the five so called Super Conferences–the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac-12, and SEC.

According to sources in the Big East, Arseco and company are planning on exploring  the following moves.

1.   Sell the name “”Big East”” to the basketball schools after getting some assurances from the NCAA that the cost of losing the Big East name will not cost them too much in the lucrative NCAA basketball tournament. If the name is sold to the new Big East, the old Big East will petition the NCAA to get a 32nd guaranteed spot for its champion.

Aresco is  unlikely to do this until after next season since the Big East name still has a guaranteed BCS bowl slot for one more year if it can maintain its composition.

After the bowl games are played next season, then the old Big East can fade into oblivion in terms of its name.

Aresco’s contention is that a basketball league with Connecticut, Cincinnati, Memphis and Temple has a decent foundation to build.

2. Give East Carolina full membership (the original deal was football only) which would give the new league an Eastern group of Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida, Temple, East Carolina, Central Florida, Tulane and in 2015 Navy.

Form a western group which would include Memphis, Houston, SMU, Boise State,  San Diego State and either Air Force, BYU, Nevada, UNLV or Fresno. The capacity to expand to as many as 16 teams remains on the board, although the plan now is go into increments as teams change, going from 12 teams next season to 14, 15 or 16 teams in the following seasons.

In basketball, the all sports group would be all of the schools in the Eastern Group other than Navy, as well as Memphis, SMU, and Houston. That would be a 10 team league which could work perfectly in terms of scheduling. But additional teams (UMass) could be considered.

Aresco could also include all of the western teams in an all sports division of Memphis, SMU, Houston, Boise State, San Diego State and then any number of the other group from BYU, Nevada, Air Force, Fresno State and maybe even UNLV.

Aresco’s plan is keep the Big East together as it now stands for one more season in football and basketball, which would be a bridge year between new television contracts involving old and new teams.

The 7 Catholic schools have expressed a desire to leave as early as next season, but the most likely compromise that will be worked out is to give the Catholic schools the name Big East, collect a minimal exit fee which would then allow both leagues to begin operation on July 1, 2014, with new identities and focuses.

“Everyone is trying to make this as amicable a separation as possible,” said one Big East source familiar with the discussions “The Catholic schools were uncomfortable with the way the wind was blowing with more changes that seem to be coming and everyone understands that.  It was just time to move.”

The moves the Big East and the Catholic schools make will come in increments, with a series of announcements and decisions being made over the next several weeks.

East Carolina being granted a full membership will be one of the first steps. The Big East naming issue will be the next move. Aresco’s league might come up with a hybrid name such as Conference America, which more truly captures the wide geographical and television footprint it wants to create.

Aresco wants to move quickly and decisively on these moves to assure such incoming conference members such as  Boise State and San Diego State that the future with a new conference is a risk worth taking.

All of these moves are predicated on not having any snares over legal technicalities, but the overall intent is to get things moving as quickly as possible to allow both groups to focus on the future rather than the past.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  38 comments for “Big East ready to respond

  1. Greg
    December 19, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Aresco is going to do what he can to make the conference thrive. That has a very different meaning than “Give Connecticut everything they want”. I understand that UConn fans may not be excited about this prospect, but plenty of other schools in the mix are! Aresco knows that UConn has one foot out the door anyway, he’s not going to set up a system that is entirely dependent on them.

    A nationwide conference of 16 of the best teams outside of the Top 5 conferences is a good idea. The college football landscape will be very different when the playoff starts, and the winner of this proposed league will get some attention. Big East football really hasn’t taken a dive here. ECU, UCF, Houston, Boise, and SMU are just as strong now as anyone was in the BE’s 2010 and 2011 seasons.

    As for men’s basketball, it will produce at least 3 bids every season. This league wouldn’t even need an automatic bid, it’s champ would make the cut anyway. The top 4 programs would be the clear favorites early on, but there are a lot of programs in this bunch with huge growth potential. Just look at USF’s growth since joining the Big East.

    Good to hear that Aresco has a plan. I hope it works!

  2. Thames
    December 19, 2012 at 1:03 am

    I think Boise has the potential to lose a ton of value. I don’t want to get saddled with a western wasteland. Boise loses all value without the drama of going undefeated.

    Houston & SMU are all ours for the taking. The all sports competition in the BE is too appealing for them to turn down for the BE. Plus it’s better geography for them.

    Really wish we weren’t so enamored with the fad of the day in Boise.

  3. solar
    December 18, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    “Aresco’s plan is keep the Big East together as it now stands for one more season in football and basketball, which would be a bridge year between new television contracts involving old and new teams.”


    The basketball contract with ESPN ends in 2013, how do you think the two sides will deal with this situation? I think that is why the C7 schools may want to leave next year.

  4. PaulDel2
    December 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Two words…..Pipe Dream.

  5. Ncrdbl1
    December 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Time to let the rotting corpse die. The make up of the new big east is not viable. After next year there will be no BCS money, no guaranteed spot in the playoffs. The new TV deal will be only a fraction of what was turned down earlier this year. This isn’t such a big deal for the eastern schools since they will not be badly effected. The western school will find their operational cost going through the roof. Trips to the west coast by the many non revenue sports found at these schools will eat up any potential increase in TV revenues that they may get, if there is any increase in revenues. The conference will always be in limbo with the few remaining teams from the current BE looking to find a way to get out and go elsewhere. The new BE will be no stronger than the Sun Belt, CUSA, Mid American and Mountain West conferences. Very likely it will be weaker than a number of those conferences. Especially since the the stronger school have clauses that will allow them to pull out if the revenues are not with in a certain range of what they were promised. Leaving the nBE as a group of teams spread across the US with drawing power. Most teams will be worst off than they were in their previous conferences.

  6. MaroonNGold
    December 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    For hoops fans, the good news is the likelihood that the Catholic 7 will keep the Big East name, add competitive schools, and once again rise to national prominence as a conference.

    This arrangement will be a boost for all the schools, especially Providence and St. John’s, which are rebuilding well right now.

    Should also help DePaul, which once was a power, and can be again.

    The natural rivalries in this league will be fun to see again – especially in New York at tournament time.

  7. Chris Columbo
    December 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    The plan out lined in this article makes common sense. The sooner they resolve the basic issues the better for all the parties. 2013 commits have signed for the most part in basketball. However, football signing is coming up. Would be good not to lose a recruiting season for the football schools.

    My take is the TV contract for the Catholic 7 piece will be decent and if they are able to add Xavier Butler and Dayton as discussed they will have a strong competitive league with a focus which is easier to sell for TV purposes and the natural fan rivalries will /continue/develop. The new league will easily be in the same discussion with the Big Ten and ACC quality wise. Big Ten, while strong, is over rated in basketball, it only gets a lot of invites because of its role in the NCAA selections. The sleeper school in the new Basketball is DePaul. They are getting a brand new arena on the Chicago lakefront which will make their attractiveness to recruits higher.

    The football group will essentially be a conference of opportunity. My sense is it will see members come and go over the years. It will get a modest contract this cycle. if it gets some momentum on the field it may be in a better position the next cycle. The key to football will be to have some years where they have 3 or more 9 win teams so they can maintain some top 25 presence and an occasional top 10.

    The other key for the football conference would be to lobby the NCAA to lower the amount of scholarships from 85 to 75. That will free up 600 or so quality players that can be spread around and bring the talent level of the football conference up. I can stil remember when there was no limits on scholarships and only 10 -15 schools at all had a good team. There were actually years when the top 20 only had 19 teams in it, because of lack of votes.

  8. Greg2600
    December 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    The Big East name and history belongs with the Catholic 7, since 5 of the members have been there for 30+ years. And it makes no sense to use the East name in football. The remaining football conference should consider more expansion out west. States like CO, NV, AZ, etc. are growing, the east is shrinking. Tulane was a horribly bad addition. BYU’s problem is they are not going to give up that ESPN contract to join.

  9. December 18, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    The new Big East will struggle to be a viable #6 with the leftovers. Don’t expect the MWC to fall asleep at the wheel.

    This chart couldn’t be any more telling.

  10. Michael Stevens
    December 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    They Should just merge with the Mountain West …..That way they are ALLWAYS in the running for that last spot in the playoffs …..

  11. Kenneth
    December 18, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Great news if true that ECU will get all sports invite. The school deserves it. The basketball program is on the rise on the court and with new facilities coming in 2013. The baseball team is a perennial top 25 program and the new olympic sports complex is world class!!!!! Excited!

  12. December 18, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Why have a western component at all?
    Cincinnati, UConn, South Florida, Temple, East Carolina, Central Florida, Tulane and in 2015 Navy
    add 2-4 eastern teams and be done with it

    • mikeinmanila
      December 18, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      This will never fly because football would be too weak relative to the MW. UConn, Cincinnati want to establishe the CLEAR #6 football conference,combines with a decent #3 type BB conference

      • Tim
        December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

        If you think that conference would be #3 in basketball, you are insane. Even if Uconn, cinci and Memphis were all strong, which is not a given, the teams below them are absolutely terrible. The bottom of that conference would kill the RPI for the teams at the top

        • mikeinmanila
          December 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm

          Tim, please educate yourself.

          Cincinnati is currently #11, New Mexico is #16, San Diego State is # 18, UNLV is # 21…and that doesn’t include UConn, Temple and Memphis being ranked at this yes, as of TODAY it would already be the 3rd best BB conference.

          • Tim
            December 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm

            Yeah. Half year results are definitely the best way to determine how it would look in the long run. Typical Big East short sidedness. And you still didn’t mention the bottom feeders, which like I said, would be the bigger problem with that new conference, not the teams at the top.

          • mikeinmanila
            December 19, 2012 at 3:56 am

            I think the folks at NBC Sports will make this call….I have faith that they actually know what they are talking about.

          • mikeinmanila
            December 19, 2012 at 4:01 am

            BTW Tim, that’s 7 out of 9-10 teams that could be ranked annually…I guess you were talking about the bottom 2-3 teams…your comment makes so much more sense now….NOT!

          • Tim
            December 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

            Yeah, because San Diego St, UNLV and New Mexico are currently ranked, that must mean that they are annual top 25 teams. Go ahead and keep thinking that. With those basketball “powers”, how can they not be a top 3 conference haha

      • December 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm

        Whether the big east survives or not now rest with Boise state and its partner San Diego state. If they can get with SMU and Houston and go with the big east, the big east survives and become the 6 th conference. If these four go with the MWC they will become the 6 th conference.
        To me the MWC option looks more stable. You build on stability and the money will come.

  13. Michaelkstevens
    December 18, 2012 at 6:30 am

    Be sure to include Army

  14. mikeinmanila
    December 18, 2012 at 4:27 am

    It’s time for UConn to take a step back and try to build a conference with the 9-10 best available teams with a strong grant of rights provision (like the Big12) so teams can’t jump ship, knowing full well that the ACC is likely to get picked apart and will have some viable teams available for this new conference to pick up and get to 16 eventually…and the others (e.g., ECU, Tulane, UMass??) will always be available.

    I really hope UConn DOES NOT sign on to a 12+ team conference right now…I much prefer the approach UConn and Cincinnati appear to be pursuing that what was recently mentioned in The Sporting News (i.e., start a conference wth UConn, Cincinnati, USF, Memphis, Temple, Boise St, San Diego St, New Mexico and UNLV and maybe UCF or BYU and go from there…would be a top 3 BB conference and #6 football conference…with the potential of being #1 in BB and #5 in football (with addition of ACC schools like Syracuse, Duke, etc down the road).

    The bottom line is that the execs at NBC Sports will make the decision on what the new conference will look like between Aresco’s idea and the idea being floated by UConn and Cincinnati…or some combination (e.g., adding UCF, BYU, Navy, AF, SMU and/or Houston to the core group of 9 schools). I seriously doubt ECU and Tulane (and UMass???) will get a lot of support in the executive suite at NBC Sports.

    • JoeScout
      December 18, 2012 at 7:26 am

      Sorry Mike, the Pirates are in. While in a small DMA, they have the fan base and historical success that reaches outside of their DMA to bring value to the table from the side that counts FOOTBALL. The Pirates aren’t Boise, but they’re good. Olympic Sports are solid too and basketball has significantly improved over the past 3 years thanks finally to a real commitment there. I agree the other conference adds must come from the West to hold Boise and SDSU. Dude everyone is looking for survival here and we all know that the odds are pretty good for UCONN and Cincinnati to be gone at some point. Aresco is tryng to get the best teams available for the FUTURE and ECU is one of them. One thing that bugs me…the death of the Big East was Basketball, but the leftovers who will probably leave are more focused on adding schools that are strong in basketball regardless of their success in football. Don’t saddle the true football schools with your Big East mentality. Don’t get me wrong. Basketball needs to be good, but good football is what will drive the bus.

      • mikeinmanila
        December 18, 2012 at 11:57 am

        Nothing against ECU, they have great fans…but the current “New BE” isn’t a done deal. UConn and Cincy, Temple, USF, etc can simply vote to dissolve the league with the C7 and start over if they feel that’s in their best interests.

        I hate realignment, but UConn needs to focus on what makes strategic sense in this environment. If you believe realignment isn’t over, it makes the most sense not to lock yourself into a 12+ team league. So that means starting with the best 9-10 schools availablea (if ECU is determined to be one of the top 9-10 teams not in the top 5 conferences, they should be included in the new league; I just think you’d be hard pressed to be ahead of the teams UConn and Cincinnati have identified). If the ACC or Big 12 don’t implode in 2-4 years, then pick the next 6-7 best teams over that time period and be done with it. Note: If no ACC teams become available, I could see ECU in the mix at that point (after UCF and maybe Navy) as an “east division” option.

        That said, I do think all the teams that join this new league HAVE to be committed for the long term through a strong GOR provision

    • FunkinGoNuts
      December 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

      Every pro UCONN post like this makes me chuckle. There’s a reason why they haven’t been plucked….no one wants them. So when posters have UCONN sitting in the director’s chair calling all the shots it’s pure fantasy. The glory days are gone with a retired BB genius no longer at the helm, allegations of fraud hanging over the program, sub par facilities, low academics, geographic nether region that doesn’t really equal TV execs dreams and a football program that should be back in FCS. Even ECU’s combined DMA makes UCONN look like a forgotten child. Just sit back and be glad BB has given UCONN some value, otherwise UCONN has little to offer but dusty trophy cases and snow.

      • mikeinmanila
        December 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

        Thanks for sharing your ignorance with us

        • FunkinGoNuts
          December 18, 2012 at 1:16 pm

          Ouch, truth hurts don’t it?

      • Jeff
        December 18, 2012 at 11:56 am

        Kinda taking your academic application rejection from UConn personally, aren’t you?

  15. Jumping Jack
    December 17, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    A second thought. Since we are forming a new league does that abrogate our obligations to all new invitees? If so I would love to walk away from SDSU, Boise State and Tulane (in that order). And try again to replace them with BYU and Air Force if we’re determined to add a western time zone. Army in the East.

  16. Jumping Jack
    December 17, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    If an all sports conference then BYU, UNLV, and New Mexico make sense as additions.

    Not sure any of them should join unless a GOR is signed. Every time someone joins this conference 2 or more teams bolt. Why sign up for a conference composition that will likely radically change before you play your 1st game?

    I think two conferences are better. Boise & SDSU back to the MWC where they belong. We are much better off with an eastern conference with Houston SMU & Memphis included. I don’t want a bunch of western mid majors joining up. Especially one with blue turf (barf).

  17. CW
    December 17, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    What are they going to do about there being no TV deal for hoops next year? Seems like that is a major gap in the planning.

    Why not make all these changes now and get the ball rolling?

  18. beefo
    December 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm


    Interesting that you suggest that the C7 may “buy” the Big East name. Seems as though MSG will be more valuable than the Big East name. What are you hearing on that front? Who is likely to control MSG for their conference tournament?

    • Mark
      December 17, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      very little chance that MSG is interested in Big East without all the catholic schools.

      • johnny
        December 17, 2012 at 11:15 pm

        Especially since their “home” team in St. Johns would be with the Catholic 7. And lets also not forget…MSG doesn’t care about football.

  19. Ted
    December 17, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Are San Diego State and Boise going to stay knowing that Uconn and Cincy will jump to another conference if they get the chance? Eventually all these conferences are going to 16 teams, might as well do it now so realignment can settle down. It’s all ridiculous.

  20. justinslot
    December 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Please not “Conference America.” Anything that recalls “Conference USA”–which was always a mediocre brand and concept; they should have stuck with the Metro–is a terrible idea.

    • BruceMcF
      December 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      They could call it the Big Five, and let people guess who the Little Seven, Nine, Eleven are.

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