BYU to Big East Talk on Hold
BYU’s TV contract with ESPN, the issue that the world knew would be a deal breaker, seems to have been exactly that: a deal breaker. At the heart of the problem was that the Big East expected BYU to surrender it’s TV rights to the conference. But BYU has refused to budge on it’s stance that the school alone should hold the rights to it’s ESPN deal for home games. The Big East argument is that it needs the BYU rights in order to negotiate a better overall conference television deal.
With the chance still existing that the BCS will drop the conference automatic qualifiers, it also takes some pressure off of BYU to make a move. Because if there is no BCS reward in joining the Big East, then it makes less sense for BYU to surrender it’s ESPN TV money, averaging $1-$2 million per game.
So seemingly until the Big East drops their demands, BYU will be remaining as an independent.
The lack of action has become all too expected regarding the future of the Big East.
Make no mistake, the Big East plans are set…at least what they want…and include a number of additions.
The absolutes in the expansion plan?
1) UCF, SMU and Houston WILL join for all-sports.
2) Boise St. is all but set to join, but requires an additional travel partner from the west, along with Air Force. BYU was the top pick and once BYU is out of the mix, the Big East will likely look to SDSU.
3) Air Force is likely in if Boise St. and a 3rd western school are in…and certainly in if Navy joins as well.
4) Navy is likely in if the plan to 12 goes forward
The problem of course is that now the Big East has a rejection in the news cycle from BYU.
The Big East has had 3-4 weeks opportunity to make a splash, to build some buzz, and start setting the plan in motion. At only 5 football schools, we already know that per NCAA rules, the Big East needs to add 3 all-sports members in order to retain football sponsorship. But instead of riding that wave of a positive news cycle, announcing the additions of UCF, SMU and Houston, they opted to wait until they had their full 10-12 schools lined up.
Even worse was that the Big East missed an opportunity last Saturday as ESPN Gameday was being held at Houston to highlight that school, an opportunity the Big East could have used to dominate the broadcast with positive Big East publicity.
But if the conference needs 3 all-sports members, why wait on football-only member moves to be finalized before setting the first tier of the plan in motion? Only the Big East can answer that.
Once BYU is out of the mix, the Big East will likely turn to SDSU as a football only member. SDSU will likely join the Big West for it’s non-football sports. The Big West would welcome SDSU with open arms, a move that would have been more difficult had the conference opted to bring in UC-San Diego earlier this year.
Should SDSU join the Big East for football, the Big East will have the strangest look in the history of college conferences. The Big East conference will ultimately look similar to the Pioneer Football league. For the Pioneer League, they have a better excuse: they are the only non-scholarship FCS football schools without an all-sports conference that sponsors the sport. So if San Diego wants to have FCS football without scholarships, it’s the Pioneer League or independence.
But the Big East is on the cusp of being able to add these items to their resume:
* Big East as conference home for the most western mainland US FBS school in the country, as well as being the most southwest FBS school in the country.
* Home of one of the 6 most northwest FBS schools in the country
* Home of 2 midwest FBS schools
* Home of 2 schools in Texas and 2 in Florida
* Home of the 2nd most northeast FBS school
And even if the BCS were to drop the conference AQ, it’s still likely we would see this strange union of schools come together as the television contract benefits would still be worthwhile to all schools involved.