FriarFan - Awarded the CollegeSportsInfo.com Boa award for longest original post! Was that longer than Hammurabi's actual code?!! (I jest ;)) Very thoughtful analysis. An interesting situation for the football schools, to say the least.
The above link is to the NCAA's page regarding finances and payment of basketball funds for tournament appearances. Based on my interpretation, it won't exactly be $50 million that the BE football schools could lose by leaving the conference, but it would be a lot. (By my calculations, the Big East would receive about $1.95 million for Syracuse's 15 credited tournament appearances over the past 6 years.) I'm still unsure of the cycling of the payments, and cannot recall exactly how the BE handles distribution of funds, but from everything here and through the recent posts, two things are clear:
1) The BE basketball schools, especially the underperformers, have been getting one helluva free ride, and
2) The potential exists for ND and the basketball schools to hold the football schools over a barrel.
If the latter is indeed taking shape, then two more things are pefectly clear, IMO:
1) ND is pure evil and must be distroyed, and
2) The football schools should cut bait.
Now, I do not know the exact revenue distribution policiy for the BE, but if the basketball schools would go so far as to hold these funds over the head of their football brethren, I doubt they'd surrender any advantages they're receiving to the football revenue either.
Now, near as I can tell the negotiations hinge on this notion - The basketball schools do not want to end their association with Syracuse, UConn, BC, Rutgers and Pitt. (They could manage without WVU, I imagine) These schools are not only big markets but also represent a lot of that basketball income and, for now, all the football income! The basketball schools know their conference would garner a larger TV contract for basketball if at least some of the schools also had national football exposure, otherwise they become a slightly better A-10. And hopes for a "Catholic League," while certainly respectable, rely on the CUSA allowing the same transfer of schools and funds that the basketball schools would be conceding the football schools in a split.
If I'm a football school, this means (again!) one of two options:
1) Be part of a Gavitt-Plan BE. ("Second verse, same as the first..."
2) Cut your losses and find an all-sport home.
When you think about it, any action towards the second option would suggest the schools should act now while the options are best. Otherwise, another school, or two, may begin shopping themselves around for the ACC. (Certainly appears Pitt, WVU and BC have the least to lose/most to gain in this department.) Again, it may not be the path to riches right away, but for them it would allow better control of their own destiny and would incur the least costs. At which point, all the plotting in the world by the basketball schools doesn't amount to much.