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With Louisville to ACC, where does Big East go from here?

Nov 28, 2012, 10:36 AM EDT

Mike Aresco AP

UPDATED 28 November, 2012, 5:49 p.m. ET

Mike Aresco took the job as Big East commissioner in August and was immediately hailed as the man who could save the struggling conference.

A television executive by trade, Aresco has played the media negotiation game at CBS and was in line to sculpt a deal that would keep the conference financially stable for years to come.

But that was when he had more assets.

With Louisville’s departure to the ACC materializing Wednesday morning, Aresco is outside of his conference’s exclusive negotiating window with ESPN and out on the open market with much less than he likely thought he would have.

Without Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia, Louisville, TCU, Rutgers, or Notre Dame, Aresco is ultimately left with a group of Catholic basketball-only schools, a majority of former Conference USA school, and two schools—Connecticut and Cincinnati—who have an undeniable desire to jump ship.

The Big East tried to make an impact move Tuesday, adding Tulane as a full member and East Carolina as a football-only institution. What has long been a running joke has now almost fully come to be: The Big East in the new C-USA.

Without power players like Syracuse, Pittsburgh, or Notre Dame, the approach pursued by Aresco and the Big East seems to be one that focuses much more on scooping up as many television markets as possible, rather than having a solidified regional brand.

This explains the additions of San Diego State, Navy, and Boise State for football, and Memphis, Houston, UCF, Southern Methodist, Tulane, East Carolina, and Temple as full members.

However much criticism there is about the watering-down of the product, the Big East is looking for strongholds in metro markets and now has them in San Diego, Boise, Memphis, Houston, Orlando, Dallas, New Orleans, Raleigh, and Philadelphia.

We will have to wait to see what else shakes out, but as it stands now, the Big East also holds Milwaukee, Cincinnati, New York City, Chicago, and Tampa.

The remaining question is if such a model will draw substantial television dollars, which falls on the shoulders of Aresco and his ability to negotiate on behalf of his conference.

Purists who decry the lack of quality, long-standing rivalries should move on at this point. Put aside the ideal structure and realize the moves are so heavily based on economics that there is little room for that type of consideration.

Schools and athletic directors are looking out for what is economically best for their programs, which is what they were hired to do. No administrator will pass up a larger per-school payout to preserve some local rivalries.

One question that continues to arise, too, is the fate of the basketball-only and basketball-prominent schools in the Big East.

What becomes of St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall, and Villanova, who don’t have FBS football assets to offer a conference? As much as the idea of a basketball-only conference with programs like Butler and Xavier has been floating around, it all comes back to financial feasibility.

Football drives realignment and the Catholic basketball schools would be taking a significant cut to break off and form their own league, so where do they go?

We might need to see a few more dominoes fall before we have any idea.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

  1. florida727 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    The beauty of college sports in general, and this is bad news for Aresco and Big East television rights negotiations, is this: on any given Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon or whatever, if you had a choice between watching, say, Duke-North Carolina or Tulane-Memphis, which one are you going to tune into?

    I’ve said for a long time the reason why I love college sports so much better than professional sports can be summed up in just this last weekend: on Saturday, without having any fancy, premium sports package on my cable system, I could (literally) have watched any one of 13-14 college football games at any time through the afternoon. On Sunday, I had ONE option for watching a pro football game at 1p ET, and ONE option for watching a pro football game at 4p ET. Sure, I could pay extra and get “NFL Sunday Ticket” or whatever it’s called… but I don’t have to do that on Saturday. To me at least, professional sports in general has priced themselves right out of my interest range. I don’t need them.

  2. omniusprime - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Extinction is where the big east should go from here. What a sorry excuse for a conference, now just a bunch of bottom tier worthless catholic schools that should never be accredited as real colleges. The little east deserves what it gets for hiring some lame tv executive who is clueless about keeping a conference together. Let the little east die an ignominious death, it’s what it deserves. Maybe then someone can put together another conference that can be competitive in all sports, not just basketball.

    • tony34343434 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      you sound like an arrogant ass that knows very little about college sports or academics. The big east was a dominant basketball conference maybe second only to the ACC. Georgetown and many of these schools are outstanding schools. I see you like to use the word little and you think it is creative. I think you have heard that term used to describe yourself many times by young ladies.

      • critter69 - Nov 30, 2012 at 4:58 AM

        tony34343434 ?

        Maybe you prefer Big Least better?

  3. superman7515 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    “What becomes of St. John’s, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, DePaul, Seton Hall, and Villanova, who don’t have Division I football assets to offer a conference?”

    Georgetown and Villanova both have Division 1 football teams.

    • arlingtonsynn - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:06 AM


  4. gmsalpha - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Tampa Bay is a body of water! Nobody lives there.

    It’s TAMPA!

    Thank you. That is all.

  5. beavertonsteve - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Which “Big” conference name is most inaccurate at this point?

    Big “10”
    Big “East”
    Big “12”

    • hojo20 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      Throw in Missouri in the “SE”C…

  6. whistlndixie1 - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Bring back the Metro Conference and be done with it.

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