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.
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