Jurich facing hurdles with continuing Big East uncertainty

At the press conference following the University of Louisville’s acceptance into the Atlantic Coast Conference, Tom Jurich was relieved and elated. But it was obvious that he had some other issues on his mind, at least to this observer.

Now we may know some of the issues still facing him that day, with the possible collapse of the Big East and announced plans of seven Catholic basketball schools to form their own league, possibly taking the Big East name with them.Tom-Jurich-UofLCardGame112812

Chadd Scott, a respected blogger believes Jurich may have been the glue holding the Big East together following the departure of West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Syracuse to other leagues:

His force of personality, passion and belief in the conference held the fractioning league united as long as it did … I had Jurich put the full court press on me about the Big East’s attributes and I’m sure he made the same pitch daily to the league’s other athletic directors and presidents, convincing them this could still work, convincing them that despite the departures of Pitt and Syracuse, despite the departure of West Virginia, despite the departure of Notre Dame, despite the departure of Rutgers… the Big East, a Big East, was still viable.

UofL could incur a major financial hit if the basketball schools form their own league before the 2013 season and there is no television contract in place. There would be some major scheduling challenges numerous sports programs as well. Notre Dame, which won’t become a member of the ACC for two more years, has similar concerns, as Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told Sports Illustrated:

“It is an untenable situation and we have to actively consider how we can get to resolution. You have two halves of a conference splitting and that creates real uncertainty for Notre Dame given the things that have to be negotiated among those parties.”

If the basketball schools leave early, will there even be a Big East basketball league in 2013? And what happens with the scheduling for UofL’s 22 other sports besides football? Mike Aresco, the Big East Commissioner, still reeling from all the negative fallout could only respond this way in the same article:

“We had engaged in preliminary discussions with Notre Dame. Those discussions would likely be resumed. The basketball schools’ announcement was just made on Saturday. By terms of our bylaws, Notre Dame could be playing in our conference through 2014-15 as would the basketball schools, Louisville and Rutgers.”

Aresco is preparing for negotiations for exit fees, obviously. He really doesn’t expect them to be sticking around that long. That’s the least of the problems for UofL, Notre Dame and Rutgers.  Concern for the immediate future is what has them working the  phones these days.

Part of the price Tom Jurich paying for UofL’s invitation to the Big East is the dissolution of the conference that he loved so much. He had to see it coming, knowing there were no easy fixes.

Big East Commish scrambles for playoff scraps

While some in the Big East Conference are rejoicing, the league suffered still another blow Monday with the agreement of the BCS and the Presidential Oversight Committee on six bowls and a “Group of 5” arrangement.

New Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco seemed to be ecstatic that the conference was not shut out altogether. “This is a better plan for us because it gives us the same guaranteed access for our conference champion,” he said. “We’ll work out all the revenue. We’ll be fine. This gives us an opportunity to play in one of six games on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. That’s great for our conference. That’s no way a negative.”

Mike Aresco

We think he may have been too close to the process, the conference still allowing itself to be manipulated by college football self-appointed big boys to monopolize the the playoff system.

There will be six bowls as part of new four-team playoff system, with the winners of the Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten, the Big 12, the Pac 12 and the Atlantic Coast Conference each receiving automatic bids and as many as five of the other bids (unless Notre Dame qualifies). Two of the bowls will host the semi-finalists on a rotating basis, with a selection committee determining the participants.

The Big East no longer will be assured on an automatic berth as it is now. Instead it will be lumped into the “Group of 5,” with the strongest team from the Big East, Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt and the Mid-America Conference receiving a spot in the sixth bowl.

The deal with ESPN is reportedly worth $475 million annually, and all schools involved will receive far more money than they do now. ESPN pays $180 million annually for the current system. With that much money involved, the power brokers have been flexing their muscle, protecting their interests, regardless of who gets harmed.

The intimidation process was so persuasive that Aresco actually thought he got a good deal for the Big East.

Where’s the line for the class action lawsuit?

Trial balloon already losing air

The trial balloon about nixing a seventh bowl is already flatulating.

Big East Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco told CBS Sports, “The commissioners have all voiced support for this. I don’t know where the talk of it not happening came from, but we’re pretty confident it can get done. We think it has real value.”

Larry Scott, balloon man?

The suggested bowl would match a champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt Conferences against a Big 12 or Pac-12 team, providing a gateway to the playoffs.

We’re probably closer to identifying one of the anonymous balloon floaters:

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said today on CBS’ The Tim Brando Show that a decision on the seventh bowl is six to nine months down the road.

“Whether there are going to be six of seven (bowls), that’s an open question … Any speculation on a seventh bowl is premature,” Scott said.

Premature only in your mind Larry, and it shouldn’t require six to nine months to decide the obvious.

‘Big boys’ float trial balloon rumor, denying Seventh Access Bowl and Big East

Whoops. One more obstacle for Tom Jurich, of the University of Louisville, and Mike Areso, the new Big East Commissioner.

The powers that be in the new football playoff system are floating a trial balloon that a seventh-access bowl that would provide access to conferences outside of the so-called Big Five may not happen at all. They are telling their semi-official balloon floater Brett McMurphy:

The bowl’s lesser worth compared to the other access bowls, the difficulty of selling tickets for an annual bowl featuring a non-power conference team and finding a bowl that wants to host the game that also meets the stadium capacity requirements for an access bowl and the national semifinals.

In other words, the self-appointed “big boy” conferences want to totally shut the door on any opportunity for the Big East or any other conference to have access to the national championship. We presume it would also adversely affect UofL’s chances of strengthening the schedule with more traditional powers.

“I think everyone has realized the seventh bowl is not on the level with the other contract bowls,” a source said. “The question was, how much can we get for this game? It didn’t sound like it was a lot.”

It’s not. The Rose and Champions bowls will be worth $80 million a year. Sources also told ESPN that the Orange Bowl will be worth $60 million a year, compared to only about $25 million a year for the proposed seventh bowl.

“Three weeks ago it was probably 90-10 (that a seventh bowl game would happen), now I would put it at less than 50 percent,” another source said.

Those sources likely being Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Texas Athletic Director Deloss Dodds, and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive who have been pulling most of the strings during the conference realignment and football playoffs positioning. These are individuals with the most to gain by shutting off access and setting the tone for negotiations for a seventh access bowl.

McMurphy didn’t bother contacting Mike Aresco, of the Big East, who is confident that a seventh-access bowl would be a huge success. The last time we looked $25 million was a big deal, but we’re confident that, with Aresco’s background, a seventh access bowl would be worth much more. It’s called marketing and promotion, folks, something with which ESPN should have plenty of experience and expertise. You go out and sell it.

Sorry gentlemen, hate to burst your balloon. This latest step in your quest for total control over college football may be the one that brings you down.

You may as well get down on your knees and beg for a class action lawsuit from all the fans whose teams would be denied. You are inviting federal legislators to do a major Congressional investigation.

You are admitting that the entire movement is profit driven and that you deserve to have your tax exempt status removed. You have already damaged the integrity of the sport, now you want to destroy any vestiges of fairness at all

Nice try. But the trial balloon is full of hot air and deserves to crash. Keep at it and the entire playoff system will come tumbling down as well.

Jurich, Aresco relish Big East football challenges

Gotta wonder how the West Virginia football players have enjoyed those 1,100-mile-plus flights between Morgantown and Austin and Lubboch, Texas on successive weekends.

Anybody still want to trade places with West Virginia in the Big 12 Conference? How many road games would you be attending?

Mike Aresco

An unmistakeable confidence exudes from people like Tom Jurich, of the University of Louisville, and Mike Aresco, the new Commissioner, when they talk about the future of Big East Conference. No problems with basketball, baseball, volleyball and soccer, all well in hand.

Jurich has said in effect that if UofL were invited to another conference, UofL would move only for the right reasons. He says the Big East has been very good for Louisville and he’s absolutely right about that. He seems genuine and optimistic about the future of the Big East.

Jurich and Aresco are Type A personalities who thrive on developing solutions, making things work, exceeding expectations more often than not. The more we listen to them, the more optimistic they sound, the more we want to believe them, the more likely we more confident we are that they will get it done.

What they need to get done is to ensure that the Big East remains a major player in college football. They are mission-focused, highly motivated, with the kind of energy that drives highly successful people. The kind you want in your corner.

Jurich, Aresco and Jim Ramsey, another UofL mover and shaker, also happen to be members of the BCS Governing Board. They are eager for deliberations to begin.

Meanwhile, catch some of those positive vibes from Aresco’s recent visit to Boise State: