Blog Entry

Big East expanding to 10 teams

Posted on: November 2, 2010 5:38 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2010 6:57 pm

John Marinatto looked like a wounded man last spring in Phoenix. Not so much physically, but emotionally.

According to reports, the Big East commissioner's conference was under attack. The popular notion was that the Big East didn't have long to live after the predatory Big Ten got through with it. Depending on what you read, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and/or Syracuse, were candidates to leave the Big East. Marinatto put on a brave front last April at the BCS meetings saying the league was using former NFL commissioner and Georgetown chairman of the board Paul Tagliabue as a consultant.

In an unguarded moment, though, Marinatto admitted to checking his text messages for the latest news during Mass.

The skies cleared above the Big East a bit on Tuesday when the league announced it would expand to 10 football-playing schools at some point in the future. No timetable given but a conference source said, "You can say the Big East would want to move quickly."

At eight teams in football, the Big East is the smallest conference in Division I-A. It was weakened significantly when it lost Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston to the ACC in 2003. Since then, during BCS television negotiations at one point, the league received a waiver to remain an automatic qualifying BCS league because potential TV partners wanted the league's Northeast markets.

In the last month it was learned that the Big East and TCU of the Mountain West had spoken. Villanova, already a Big East basketball member, is trying to decide whether its I-AA football program should move up to I-A. If that is the case Temple, another Philadelphia school and former Big East member, would probably be out of the running for a return to the conference.

Other schools mentioned include Central Florida and Houston from Conference USA.

One source said Villanova was "50-50" about whether to join the league in football. If Villanova joined in football, the league would have to add only one more football member. An NCAA moratorium on I-AA teams transitioning to I-A ends next summer.

TCU is the outlier in the discussion but a potentially valuable addition for the Big East. Forget the geographic designations, the school would be as far from some Big East schools as it is currently in the Mountain West. TCU probably wouldn't join as a basketball member. There is thought to be some reluctance within the Big East about adding any more basketball members to the already unwieldy 16-team basketball conference. The soonest TCU could leave for the Big East would be 2012. Per Mountain West rules, TCU would have had to notify the league office by Sept. 1 of this year if it was leaving for 2011.

One potential hurdle has been removed if TCU were to join. The Mountain West does not have a financial penalty for schools that leave the league.

Best guess: If Villanova doesn't move up, look for TCU and Central Florida to join. The league would be wise to value the Dallas-Fort Worth and Orlando markets. The Big East already is in Tampa-St. Pete with South Florida. A natural conference rivalry no doubt would develop between UCF and USF.

After expansion, Big East could set to reap a financial windfall from its next television contract. The league's TV deal with ESPN and CBS expires after the 2012-13 season. The football deal with ESPN expires after the 2013 season. Negotiations would probably begin around September 2012.

Because of increased competition for league rights, conferences have been seeing a huge spike in income. The SEC finalized a 15-year deal with the SEC and CBS in July 2009 worth $3 billion. The ACC signed a 12-year deal with ESPN in May worth $1.86 billion. The ACC more than doubled its major rights holder income with the deal.

Fox narrowly missed out on winning at least part of the ACC contract. A merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, another possible player in college sports, is awaiting federal approval.

The Big East presidents made the decision unanimously to expand Tuesday at their annual meeting. A smaller, core executive committee is studying the expansion issue and could meet anytime to address the issue, even by phone, according to a league spokesman.


Since: Nov 8, 2010
Posted on: November 8, 2010 7:05 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

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Since: Apr 22, 2009
Posted on: November 8, 2010 12:31 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

will have to pay for the cadets and midshipmen to travel, place to stay

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: November 3, 2010 10:57 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

UCF only "average" in every sport?  C'mon....
Football  2005 East Division Champs first year in CUSA
Football  2007 CUSA CHAMPS!!!
Football today....only unbeaten team left in conference!!!  If you havent heard of true freshman phenom Jeff Godfrey, you will.  The next Daunte Cullpepper is Godfrey!

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: November 3, 2010 10:54 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

You arent catching UCF this year...they would have to lose aint happening!

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:10 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

The Big East knows it needs to be a 12 team league in the current environment.  It should add Army & Navy as football only schools.

Since: Oct 17, 2008
Posted on: November 3, 2010 3:17 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

The Big 12 will eventually push hard to add BYU and Notre Dame, but that may be a few years down the road.  Arkansas won't leave the SEC and TCU doesn't bring enough to make it worth it.   There aren't any other options that make sense for the Big 12.

Since: Sep 14, 2006
Posted on: November 3, 2010 1:33 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

Big East and ACC should merge.  Super conferences are coming.  Might as well be first on the bandwagon.  Kick out the non-football schools in the Big East.  Create a North and South division.  BC, Maryland, Virginia along with the BE schools - USF make up the North, USF hooks up with rest of ACC scools to form the South.  Championship game.  When what's left of the Big 12 breaks up after further raids this new Big East Coast will have secured it's spot as one of the 4 supers.  And nobody could touch them in hoops as well.

Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: November 3, 2010 12:34 pm

Big East expanding to 10 teams

Why would Notre Dame want to split its TV revenue or bowl revenue with nine other schools?  Who would want to
join a conference that is so bad schools leave....Miami, Virginia Tech.

Since: Oct 28, 2010
Posted on: November 3, 2010 9:21 am

Big East expanding to 10 teams

Things that do matter in conference expansion decisions:
1)  Television markets
2)  Academics
3)  Impact of team's recent history on BCS conference ratings

Things that don't matter:
1) stadium size
2) number of players in the NFL
3) how rabid the fan base is

In other words its all about three things: Money, money, and money.  And how that money can be maximized in TV contracts and split among the members.

The Big East has reached a turning point.  The basketball schools have to accept a majority of football schools or accept the football schools breaking away.  Marinatto has placed the ball in Villanova's court.  They may not be able to afford to move up in football, but the bigger question is can they afford not to?  If Villanova says no, and the basketball schools block adding two new football teams, its the end of the conference, with the football schools breaking away and adding two schoosl to be a ten team conference (that keeps its BCS bid).  The remainign basketball schools are left with a decent bball conference, but one that pulls in far fewer dollars from TV than they receive today in the Big East.

If Villanova syas yes, there is a majoirty of football schools that then can dictate the addtion of a tenth football member.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: November 3, 2010 2:49 am

Big East expanding to 10 teams

Hey guy, you only play one football game a week.  You play at least 2 basketball games a week, so geography will matter!

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