PHILADELPHIA — The Big East won’t look anything like it once did if the league is successful in its football expansion plans, but it will likely be able to survive with its automatic BCS bid intact, one expert said.
And the reconfigured conference c[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
ould actually wind up with a more lucrative TV contract a year from now than the $11-million-per-team deal it turned down from ESPN, said another.
Houston, SMU and Central Florida are ready to accept all-sports offers to join the Big East within the next week, with Boise State, Air Force and Navy the next targets as football-only members, according to a leading college official, following the annual meeting of league presidents Tuesday.
The person requested anonymity because of a league-wide gag order imposed on officials attending the meeting.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Boise State’s board has a special meeting scheduled for Thursday with the school’s “athletic conference” as part of the agenda. The board would need to approve any change in league that Boise State makes.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto, who declined to provide details of the conference’s expansion plans, said league presidents unanimously voted “to extend invitations to specific institutions.”
Marinatto said he would “work over the course of the next week” to get the first wave of new members on board.
The Big East previously announced its intention to get to 12 football schools with two six-team divisions. But the recent announced defe[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
ction of West Virginia to the Big 12, less than two months after Pittsburgh and Syracuse declared their intentions to join the ACC, means the league now needs to add seven schools to get to 12.
Those seven would join Rutgers, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville and South Florida.
Marinatto said discussion of a seventh school was tabled by the 13 remaining league presidents.
Boise State, a perennial top 10 football program, still holds the key to the Big East retaining its automatic bid BCS and a slot in one of its $22.3 million bowl games when the current contract expires following the 2013 football season. The Broncos, if they declare for the league by Dec. 4, would count as a Big East team for evaluation purposes during the next BCS review.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Boise continues to wait to see how the Big East expansion plan shakes out before committing, while Air Force and Navy need at least until the end of the month before making a decision.
“Getting Boise State would help the Big East a lot,” said Jerry Palm of collegebcs.com. “Losing West Virginia will hurt, but the Big East can offset that by getting Boise. Based on what goes into the evaluation, the league would not be far off (from being renewed).”
Meanwhile, Chris Bevilacqua, a consultant with Evolution Media Capital, said the Big East is in line to land a hefty TV deal because of the demand for live sporting events, particularly for football — and because the league is the only conference with inventory available next year.
Bevilacqua, who helped the Pac-12 negotiate its $3 billion, 12-year TV deal, said it was entirely possible that Big East will wind up with a better TV offer than it turned down if all of the expected schools join.
Though Marinatto said there was no timetable yet for adding schools as playing members, he said next year was probably too soon for most of them to be part of the Big East. Because of a 27-month waiting period that is part of the Big East’s exit penalty, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia cannot leave the league until after the 2013 season.
Marinatto also said the league would not be issuing invitations if it didn’t expect them to be accepted.
Tuesday, interim Bi[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
g 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas attended a reception in Morgantown, W.Va., welcoming the Mountaineers to the Big 12, and said he fully expects West Virginia to start play next season despite a hard-line stance from the Big East.
Neinas, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck and university president James Clements were peppered with questions about the lawsuit and the timetable on the Mountaineers’ Big 12 debut.
“I’m not concerned because I trust the two gentlemen on each side of me, that’s why,” Neinas said.
Luck and Clements declined comment on the lawsuit.
Filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court, it seeks to declare the Big East bylaws invalid, claiming the conference breached its fiduciary duty to West Virginia by failing to maintain a balance between football-playing and non-football members.
When Neinas was asked what happens if the Big East is successful in delaying West Virginia’s quick exit, “then I guess for the first time in college football history, we’ll have home and home” schedules, he joked. “Oklahoma State told me they don’t want to play Oklahoma twice.”
On a serious note, Neinas said: “We fully expect West Virginia will be there.”