Looks like I backed the wrong thread of the two.
I advocate a Big East split. It could be lucrative to each side to split.
Basketball isn't going to willingly leave. If they do, they lose the name. They have no reason to initiate the split, even if they want it. So it's on football to leave. All they need to do to make a split worthwhile is land a basketball TV contract worth $22 million and then they've got no reason to stay. They'd lose nothing and have a chance to improve their scheduling issues, their BCS standing, football TV contract, and maybe add revenue from a Big East Championship Game.
The current basketball TV revenue pot is $32 million per year. Per 16 schools is $2 million each for the old Big East. The markets cover 57 million people in Chicago, Cincinnati, NY/NJ, Philly, Pitt, Prov, Tampa, Washington, Milwaukee, CT, WV, Syracuse and Louisville.
Let's say you have an 11-team conference: UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pitt, West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Memphis, USF, UCF, Notre Dame (FB Indep).
Their new footprint would have 45 million people:
Syracuse/NYC/NJ/CT (UConn, SU, Rutgers)
Chicago (Notre Dame)
plus Memphis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia,
Orlando and Tampa.
And a plethora of good games. While they lose some rivals, only those games featuring two of UCF/USF/Rutgers are really not interesting games.
With a 16-game schedule, you've got home and home with six teams to double-up on good TV matchups (when you had three home and home series in the 16-team Big East).
While the schedule goes from 288 games to either 176 (16 game sched) or 198 (18 games), there's only so many time slots you could put on TV anyway.
A $22 million contract is extremely reasonable. You're really only losing Georgetown/Nova and Marquette for TV purposes.
For the basketball side if football leaves; a nine-team conference would only need a TV deal of $18 million to break even in a split.
Add Dayton and Xavier and you're looking at 46 million people market share (NY/NJ, Chicago, Philly, Washington, Providence, Milwaukee, Southwest Ohio).
Their biggest problem might be marquee games, by losing Syracuse and UConn vs Georgetown and Nova.
They could get their market share up to 50 million by adding Saint Louis, Butler and Richmond, which would also lower travel costs. But then they'd need a $24 million TV deal, and you'd lose six games of Marquette vs the east, another six from Xavier vs the East because a 12-team league has a double-round with your division
So nine is probably their best option.
The logical terms of the split would be:
Football leaves penalty free as a group, taking all their earned NCAA Tournament revenues.
Basketball gets the Big East name
Football gets MSG for their basketball tourney.
A non-conference scheduling agreement between the two sides is formed, including a basketball tournament/showcase in MSG in Nov/Dec.
I have never been a fan of creating a new 12 member Big East hybrid league using Notre Dame as a football independent and other non playing football schools (i.e. Georgetown/Villanova), however, creating a hybrid of Notre Dame and 11 other all sports members playing football would have many advantages. The argument to expand with a ninth football member has always been to create balanced schedules for football If you expand to 10 members, you have unbalanced schedules of 4 and 5 unbalanced home and away games or the alternative is to have all teams not playing each other each season with 8 conference games. This has a lot of issues in selecting the conference champion without the benefit of having a football championship game. In the hybrid scenario of Notre Dame and 11 football playing schools, Notre Dame is basically a place holder until the school moves to the Big Ten or finally decides to join Big East football and create a Big East football championship game. In the short term. the Big East could have all 11 football members play round robin football for a total of 10 conference games with 5 home and 5 away. Since the Big East does not have the stadium size of a lot of SEC and Big Ten schools that can afford to have FBS teams play home games only in their stadiums with no return games, the Big East schools would only have to schedule 2 OOC games per year. This schedule would work and provide Big East football members a chance to improve and expand stadiums in the future to offset the competition with other BCS schools that have much larger stadiums that benefit OOC scheduling scenarios..
If the Big Ten eventually expands with Rutgers or Syracuse the Big East could then replace one of those schools with a school from the east. If Syracuse is selected replace that school with the U of Buffalo to retain some of of the New York market. If Rutgers is selected for the Big Ten, then expand a take back Temple to off set the loss of the New Jersey eastern PA markets.
The other three schools would appear to be a fairly easy choice of taking Memphis, UCF, and East Carolina. All three have been mentioned as a possible Big East expansion school in the past.
If Notre Dame finally decides to bolt for the Big Ten which is my prediction of the future, then the Big East could use the current 11 football members and split into geographical divisions and look for one more school most likely a northern school to balance out geographical divisions. Hopefully by the time Notre Dame and the Big Ten finally decide to make it 12, Temple will have improved enough to make a good selection as a north division school.
The conference could then spit into a north division of Syracuse, Rutgers, UConn, West Virginia, Pitt, Temple and the south could have Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, East Carolina, UCF, and USF.
Everyone always assumes expanding with Conf USA schools make the Big East more like Conf USA, however, if Conf USA suddenly had a BCS automatic bid the perception would change overnight for that league.
This alignment would be the best possible solution for the Big East football schools to work toward an eventual 12 team alignment. Basketball would remain as good as the current Big East if Temple is included in the mix along with the addition of Memphis.
It is probably just a matter of time before the Big Ten and Pac 10 expand to 12 and the Big East would almost have to split and expand to 12 to ensure BCS membership is retained for the long term future.
Why not just split by 2010 and be prepared for what is the inevitable and finally take care of football needs first. This is the BCS and football is key to a BCS league.