The long-anticipated Big East television deal is all but done, allowing the league to move forward knowing exactly where it stands without rampant speculation about its value.
Is the deal as good as league officials once hoped it could be? The reported numbers emphatically say no. But at this point, the Big East did not have much bargaining power, as all the defections and the hoops split essentially brought the league to its knees.
I agree with what Mike Aresco told The Hartford Courant recently, explaining that the league had to get the best deal done now with an eye toward maximizing exposure, and then bank on a rebuilt Big East to be in much better position when it comes time to negotiate its next deal.
"We're in an unusual situation right now," Aresco told the newspaper earlier this month. "We've done the best deal that we can do at the moment. On the other hand, we're doing a shorter-term deal. It's going to be half or even a third of some other deals, and I think that's going to be significant because we think we can build an audience down the road."
Hard to argue with that logic, as long as the league stays together. There obviously is no telling what will happen, but it is pretty obvious the Big East will always be at the mercy of the bigger leagues around it when those leagues decide to expand again. Cincinnati has not been shy about its willingness to court the ACC. Neither has UConn. If dominoes start falling, it is hard to envision a scenario where the Big East goes unscathed, based on its history.
But those are all factors that are outside the league's control today. What is in its control? There are still more items on the agenda to figure out now that the TV deal is in place.
1. When will the league add another team to get itself to 12? Aresco has not said, but this is probably the No. 1 item on the agenda that needs to be accomplished. The TV deal does not really impact who the Big East will add in the future.
2. Name fight. Will the league hang on to its Big East name, or will the departing basketball schools get it? Aresco has been adamant that the remaining schools will fight for the name, but there are no guarantees. Also up in the air are the departure dates for Rutgers and Louisville, and when exactly the split from the hoops schools will happen.
3. What happens to the bowl tie-ins? The current bowl contracts are up after this season, so it will be interesting to see how the Big East is able to position itself now that it has been shuffled to the way back of the pack. Which bowl is going to end up getting first choice of a Big East team? I think the Big East will try as hard as it can to retain its presence in Florida, but there might be an addition in Texas given the restructured configuration. Also in question is whether the league can hang on to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, with no more teams in New York/New Jersey.