With Christmas upon us, the college world will take a 48 hour break to hatch the next conspiracy theory as well as make preparations for the new year.
This is what we see happening, presumably in chronological order.
1. Big East–Where do you want to start?
Let’s start with the latest buzz about Boise State–and then San Diego State–backing out on the deal to join the Big East on July 1.
It could go either way right now, but we’re betting that the deal holds up because the money Boise can make next year by joining the Big East is better than the money it can make by going back to the Mountain West. If Boise leaves, San Diego State leaves. If Boise State stays, San Diego State stays.
The key here is BCS money which the Big East champion will get for one more year on a guaranteed basis unless the BCS commissioners say otherwise. We think that they will also sit down and say enough harm has been done to the Big East and the BCS contract has only one year remaining, so let it play itself out. That would be a payout of upwards of 17 million dollars. That money is divided among the conference schools, but the Big East could easily increase the share of the winner (Boise will be among the favorites next season) to entice Boise to stay.
Big East commissioner Mike Aresco may even give Boise State some extra benefits or incentives to sweeten the pot and make a commitment for at least one year.
If Aresco can get Boise to stay, he will have a 12-team, two division football conference locked up. He can then settle the television deal which will have all sorts of escape and “look in”” clauses to it. It will be a combination ESPN-NBC/Comcast deal in football and basketball which could be closer to $100 million per year than $60 million per year as has been speculated if Boise and San Diego State don’t bolt.
What should also be pointed out is that a core group in basketball of Memphis, Temple, Cincinnati and UConn is better than anything the Catholic Group of 7 have produced in recent years and equal to the group, even with the addition of Butler, Xavier and VCU.
Once that deal is done, Aresco will then finish up the details of the departure of the Catholic 7. Aresco feels that everthing will be secure until the summer of 2014. unless the schools that are leaving want to pony up some serious exit fees in cash.
“I still think we’re good through 2013,” said Aresco. “After that, we’ll see how it works out.”
How it will work out is likely to be a graduated departure. The Catholic 7 will leave on June 30th 2014. They will take the Big East name with them. They will add three more schools–Xavier, Butler and we’ll say VCU. They will also have close to 42 million dollars in assets garnered from the split with the Big East to use as start up money.
This should all be done in the next few months. Again, if anyone wants to leave by next season, Aresco will listen. West Virginia paid upwards of $17 million to get out. The height of the exit bar has been set.
The Big East football league will eventually remerge as a hybrid of the Mountain West, Conference USA and Big East with a new name.
By 2014, it will have 14 teams playing football.
Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, Memphis, , SMU, Fresno State and UNLV.
Temple, UConn, South Florida, Central Florida, East Carolina, Tulane and Cincinnati.
Navy is scheduled to join in 2015, which will leave room for one more team at a later date–Air Force, BYU and UMass all will be discussed.
In basketball, the league will be a bit smaller.
Temple, Cincinnati, UConn and Memphis will be the four marquee teams. Central Florida, South Florida, Tulane, East Carolina, SMU and Houston will round out the group of 10, which allows a double round robin regular season schedule against each opponent, but also allows enough room to bring in some high profile non-conference opponents.
Aresco’s plan is clear in his mind. A 14 to 16 team football league that will be diverse enough to get decent television money, and talented enough to successfully compete for the open BCS slot each year awarded to the conference with the highest ranked team.
In basketball, the idea is to get an NCAA automatic bid for the conference champion, keep it small enough to develop rivalries, but with enough room to succeed if there are any more defections.
“We’re going to be fine,” said Aresco. “It’s going to work out. It’s just going to take some time.”
2. ACC-Keep an eye on the Big Ten and Georgia Tech. Maybe not this year, but by 2014. If that happens, the Big Ten will need t find another team to get to 16. And with the kind of money the Big Ten can offer, EVERYONE in the ACC is in play.
If there is any doubt about this look at Rutgers. According to sources familiar with the discussions going on about expansion, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany didn’t even have Rutgers on his A B or C list until Georgia Tech finally said no thank you as a partner with Maryland. Once that happened and once Syracuse announced it was leaving the Big East, Rutgers moved into prime time.
3. Big 12–For now, we will take the Big 12 at its word that they are content to stay at 10 teams. But that also can change quickly.
Right now, everyone is in an idle mode. Once we get past Christmas and New Year’s, that will change.
© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.