The timing couldn’t be better for the Big East to be negotiating television networks for future football coverage.
The latest Associated Press poll has three undefeated Big East teams among the top 25 teams in the country, the University of Louisville (6-0) at 16th, Rutgers (6-0) at 19th, and Cincinnati (5-0) at 21st.
More than a little ironic that the Big East is legally obligated to negotiate with ESPN for a couple more weeks. This is the same network that has downplayed Big East football on and off the air for five seasons, influencing conference realignment decisions in some instances.
As Charlie Strong told USA Today: “It’s exactly what this conference needed. We have been able to make a statement.” More from the same article:
The Big East has long hoped to capitalize on being the last major college sports property up for bid in this cycle. Mike Aresco, a former vice president at CBS Sports, believes its attractiveness has been enhanced by a strong non-conference performance this year, including Rutgers’ win at Arkansas and Cincinnati’s victory against Virginia Tech. He’s also touting another good season by No. 22 Boise State (5-1), which will join next year.
“I think it’s important because it reminds our media partners of the football we’ve had,” Aresco said. “It’s fortuitous it’s happening now and the way it’s happening, but it also gives them a sense that longer-term we’re going to be a very good football league.”
Certainly better than the Atlantic Coast Conference, which landed a deal worth $17 million per school with ESPN earlier this year. The current arrangement between the Big East and ESPN, paying $3.5 million per school, can be renegotiated on the open market starting Nov. 1 with other networks.
NBC/Comcast is reportedly waiting in the wings, needing football programming inventory, eager to capitalize on expanded national reach of the conference and, especially, the large eastern media markets. An aggressive, thoughtful and long-term negotiating process would greatly benefit all parties.
No better time to have three undefeated teams, assuring that Big East football is not going away, much to ESPN’s regret.