Big East closing in on new deals

FORT LAUDERDALE–Things ajerseyguy took note of this week: While the rest of the college football world focuses on Monday night’s BCS title game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No.2 Alabama, Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is working the back corridors of the BCS world to keep San Diego State as a firm member of the Big East football conference, starting next July.

The Big East is also closing in on a television deal for both football and basketball that  will be fair and representative of what Aresco feels will be, at the very least, the 6th best major college football conference next season.

Aresco is been in and out of meetings with ESPN officials in Miami-ESPN is televising the BCS title game-and  on speed dial with San Diego State officials as he continues to work on keeping San Diego State on course to maintain their commitment to join the Big East in football only.

Sources familiar with the discussions say that Aresco has been encouraged by his response from not only San Diego State, but from the television networks as well, including ESPN and Fox.

“Things will start to speed up in the next few weeks,” said one source at the Big East, who has knowledge of the nature of the discussions.”The commitment to the Big East from the Texas schools remains firm and San Diego State has continued to express interest that it would also like to be part of this arrangement, even with Boise State going back to  the Mountain West.”

The Big East’s contention is that an 11 team league, which would include San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Memphis, Tulane,  East Carolina, Central  Florida, South Florida, Temple, Cincinnati and Connecticut, has wider television appeal than the Mountain West which is more regional in its structure.

If San Diego State maintains its commitment to the Big East, Aresco would then actively pursue a 12th team–probably with a western address as a travel partner for San Diego State. Navy officials have maintained that they remain firm in their commitment to join the Big East in football, starting in 2015.

The Big East maintains that some positive television numbers are starting to flow back towards them in terms of both basketball and football. Combine that with the Big Easts virtually guaranteed a BCS bowl spot in the final year of the current BCS contract in 2013.

Aresco is also encouraged because millions of dollars in exit money that is flowing into the Big East accounts from schools that are leaving such as Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, TCU and Boise State. Such an arrangement creates  a financially healthy conference, which is the best option available outside of the group of five other current BCS conferences.

Aresco has also had to deal with the departure of the Catholic 7 group of schools who want to break away from their football brethren. That group, which includes St. John’s, DePaul, Marquette,Villanova, Seton Hall, Georgetown and Providence, met in New York on Friday to discuss their initial strategy in making the break.

Although there have no formal requests made, Aresco  feels that the Catholic schools will begin the process by negotiating an early departure date (July 1, 2014).

Since the Catholic 7 will remain part of the Big East next basketball season, Aresco is currently negotiating a television deal in basketball which includes those 7 Catholic schools, as well as Louisville, Rutgers and Notre Dame, all who are scheduled to depart the Big East. If that deal is completed, the Catholic 7 will have another year to get their new league in better financially healthy situation.


Although it is still two years away from becoming official, BCS officials are already honing in on how the new four  team playoff format will work, starting in January of 2015. The most workable option would appear to be to have the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl anchored in New Year’s Day and New Year’s night time slots each year.

When those two bowls are part of the Football Final Four rotation, the semifinals will be played on January 1 and the BCS title game will be played a week later on a Monday night. When the Sugar and Rose are not part of the championship rotation, the two semifinals will be played on New Year’s Eve afternoon and evening….The first title game will almost certainly be played in Arlington, Texas and given to the highest bidder each year.


Both Alabama coach Nick Saban and Notre Coach Brian Kelly were asked at Saturday’s media day session about the possibility of moving to the NFL. Both professed happiness and loyalty to their present jobs. But until Monday night’s game is played between the Irish and the Tide, and until all the NFL openings are actually filled, both Kelly and Saban will see their names on the potential candidate list.

© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.

  10 comments for “Big East closing in on new deals

  1. Jamie Barnes
    January 10, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    I appreciate the way you’re objectively covering these very transitional times for the Big East, noticeably different than the way various writers from ESPN, CBS and other high-profile college sports sites have seemed to adopt an agenda when regularly reporting on the “demise” of the Big East.

    For instance, losing Boise State certainly wasn’t good news for the Big East, but despite that school’s significant stature and fame in college football, as an overall athletic department, fan base, TV market — all the things TV execs really look for when assessing league values — Boise State was rather average. Losing Boise State in the larger picture has no significantly different impact than losing Memphis, Central Florida or other incoming league members. Actually, losing one of those schools would be worse because they are full members, not just a football member like Boise and San Diego State.

    Some media have almost sounded like they were in collusion with the MWC in reporting keeping Boise State in the conference like it was a major triumph. In fact, the concession MWC schools made to bring Boise back into the fold can and probably will cause significant unity and equity problems down the line.

    If the Big 12 ever decides it wants not only to expand, but expand west into a different time zone, schools like New Mexico and Colorado State — not currently good football programs but large state schools in decent markets adjacent to existing Big 12 country — could become very attractive. Already, independent BYU is still the most sought after athletic program in the Mountain Time Zone, no matter how much better Boise’s football program has been than BYU’s. The Utah private school typically gets 20,000 to 25,000 more fans for home games than does Boise State.

    This is a challenging time for Aresco, but I think the Big East ultimately needs to be made up only of all-sports programs. That simplifies things for whoever buys the rights to the Big East broadcasts, and can contribute to the leagues overall stability and value.

    The Big East isn’t going away anytime soon. San Diego State might yet bolt, but again that’s another football-only program, and I really don’t think Aresco or TV thinks much about having far-western schools participating only as football members.

  2. Guy
    January 6, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    The Big East is close to a deal? Been hearing that for 2 months since the ESPN window closed. The Big East deal will be peanuts. What TV partner is willing to pay more than $2 million per school, per year when the conference has lost 10 schools in a couple months?

    More losses to come I’m sure, that’s what’s holding up the TV deal. ESPN, NBC, CBS and Fox are continually trying to value a conference that loses quality schools and replaces them with East Carolina and Tulane. Total hot garbage.

  3. RudyMass
    January 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Wow. Get this dude Aresco a major raise. He is on the verge of creating “the sixth best football conference.” Now that is a mission statement.

    • Guy
      January 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      “Aresco is also encouraged because millions of dollars in exit money” – So the conference business plan is to earn its money through exit fees. That a successful business plan. What a joke.

  4. January 5, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    is SDSU does leave, who should the Big East take? I really think the Big East should have at least 12 by 2014 to take full advantage of a conference championship and being the 6th best conference.

    • January 6, 2013 at 3:22 am

      If San Diego State stays, we could pursue somebody like Fresno State or Nevada. I am actually interested in San Jose State with its large media market and potential. It would complement SDSU.

      From further east, I like Tulsa and Southern Miss.

      • Joe Crum
        January 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

        SJSU and So. Miss. How sad…

      • josh Hobbs
        January 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm

        why would fresno SJSU or Nevada want to join that dumpster fire? they would have to find a new home for their olympic sports.

        I believe that if Fresno UNLV or another school in the MWC wanted to join the Big East then the Big East wouldn’t have added Tulane several months ago.

  5. GoingDome
    January 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Mark- When do you think we will know which and how many schools the Catholic 7 will target? There is some consensus among the educated guesses, but when will it come into focus beyond conjecture?

    • Mark
      January 6, 2013 at 9:09 am

      Youshould have a better idea of who the catholic 7 will go after in the next few months. I would say Xavier, Dayton and butler will be the top targets.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *