Marinatto's State of the Big East, Part II

Here is Part II of my discussion with Big East commissioner John Marinatto. You can read Part I here.

On the coaching turnover:

Every school except Rutgers has named a new head coach in the last two years. The last four coaches to earn BCS bids have left for other jobs. I asked Marinatto if that was a concern and if there was anything the league could do about it.

"I think it's just the nature of the business," he said. "You look around, and it's not just the Big East that has turnover. It's part of a double-edged sword in collegiate athletics in general. There's a turnover rate associated with all of the programs."


Marinatto was delighted to watch the Horned Frogs win the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin. He watched it from his box at the Fiesta Bowl and sent TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte congratulatory text messages during the game. Then he sent him a conference wristwatch with "It's Big East time" engraved on the back. The league also took out full-page ads in the Dallas area newspapers congratulating the Horned Frogs on their win.

"I was so pumped for those people," he said. "They've been so much fun to work with over the last several months. I know at the time they were representing the Mountain West Conference, but in a way it felt like they were representing us as well."

Marinatto said the league will work diligently to figure out how football and other schedules will balance out with TCU coming in, but that's being put on the back burner because the Big East could still add another team.


As usual, Marinatto was tight-lipped on the league's expansion plans. He wouldn't even confirm if getting to 10 teams was still the goal.

"I'm not at liberty to talk publicly about anything specific in terms of our study," he said. "We're continuing the study and working very hard to identify appropriate parties we may want to have a long-term association with."

I asked him about Central Florida and whether that school had caught the league's eye with its performance on the field, but he declined to talk about individual schools. As I wrote on Tuesday, he said the Big East is not necessarily waiting on Villanova to make its decision by April.

TV deal:

The league has been exploring the possibility of a Big East Network with help from consultant and former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Negotiating a new TV deal -- the Big East's TV revenue now lags far behind other major conferences -- is the No. 1 issue facing the league.

"Everything is still on the table," Marinatto said. "We've got another 18 months before we sit down with ESPN and go into the marketplace. We'll continue to analyze the situation for the future and what's our best move."

I asked him what Texas's recent deal for its own TV network might mean for the Big East.

"I think that demonstrated there is a demand for college sports in America," he said. "We recognize that, and we also recognize that we have a high-quality product with our membership. At some point in time, we'll have a chance to walk into the marketplace and get a feel for how people value our product.

"Everything has an impact, an effect. The Comcast/NBC merger demonstrates, I think, that moving forward there will be an appetite there as well. So there will be competition in the marketplace. There will be people in the marketplace trying to get their hands on a product like ours. We'll wait and see what that means and where we go with our product."