It is going to be a Big East expansion kinda day today. Here are some leftover notes from commissioner John Marinatto following his conference call announcing new members Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF and SMU.
Marinatto seemed to believe having the Big East in all four time zones would be a benefit when negotiations begin for a new media rights deal next September. He even talked about having games back-to-back-to-back as an appealing option. "We think that's a very powerful model as we move forward in our upcoming TV negotiations, initially with ESPN eight months from now, because it provides something that no other conference in the country can represent. So we're excited about that prospect," he said.
On the subject of divisions, Marinatto said there were no decisions yet on how everybody would be divided up. "What we're looking at specifically is two six‑team divisions, you play everybody once for five, then you cross over for three others," he said. "We will have all of our athletic directors included in the room in order to determine what is the best model. But that's the general model that we've discussed as we've unfolded this plan that we've shared with each of the schools that are on the call today as well as our ongoing members."
That model includes 12 teams. The Big East will have 10 once West Virginia, Pitt and Syracuse leave. So expansion is not quite done yet. Air Force is out, after announcing it would stay in the Mountain West. Navy cannot make a commitment for 2013. Villanova would only be considered if the Big East decides to move to 14 or 16 teams. So who does that leave? Marinatto was mum on the future prospects. But he did say if the Big East stayed at 10 for now, there would be a discussion about appealing to the NCAA to play a championship game as a 10-team league.
Incoming members will be subject to the 27-month waiting period to depart the conference once they actually join in 2013. Should anybody change their mind before them, the only penalty they incur would be a financial one. That is how the Big East handled TCU.
Boise State president Bob Kustra was asked a pointed question about TCU using the Big East as leverage for an invitation to the Big 12. Would Boise State do the same if the Pac-12 or Big 12 came calling? Kustra said, "We've made the commitment to the Big East. I particularly like the idea of introducing Boise State University's brand of football east of the Mississippi and across this nation. I think John Marinatto made an excellent point when he talked about the fact that this is indeed a conference, the only conference in America, in four time zones and a coast‑to‑coast conference. That is appealing to us. That is just as appealing to us as the opportunities we may have had in the past. Certainly it's the reason why we're in the conference now and where we intend to stay."
Marinatto was asked if he was confident the Big East would hold onto AQ status: "Part of our objectives in expansion was to create the best conference we could both on the football side as well as other sports. We recognize obviously the departure of the schools leaving the conference affected us. But we always felt confident that if we made the right moves, we would keep our BCS AQ status and we've done that.
He also was adamant that Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia stay for the full 27-month waiting period. That would make a 13-team league for 2013. "I guess if the SEC can figure out a way to do it next year, we can certainly figure out a way to do it when we need to."
Sorry, you guys are stuck with the Big East. I was really looking forward to Big Country. Sorry, Bryant Reeves.