Aresco: Big East has 'clear access' in new bowl deal
TAMPA -- Big East commissioner Mike Aresco is excited about the week his conference has had, first with the news that an automatic slot in the new top six bowls will go to the highest ranked champion out of five conferences, including his Big East.
It's not exactly an automatic bid, but in seven of the last eight football seasons, a school from the Big East's 12-team 2013 lineup would have earned such a top bid under the new guidelines.
"We have clear access," he said by phone Tuesday on his way home from a meeting of the conference's presidents and athletic directors in Chicago. "I think they're going to have an outstanding opportunity at the highest level if we can have the highest ranked champ, and I don't think there's any reason we shouldn't."
Aresco followed that news by unveiling the Big East's new football divisions for 2013-14, with USF in the East with four other returning schools -- Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville and Rutgers -- as well as newcomer Central Florida. The divisions might as well be called New and Old, as the West lineup has five newcomers (Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU and Memphis) and Temple, which rejoined the league this fall.
Aresco likes that the divisions highlight both the national footprint of the league and the regional rivalries, like USF-UCF, Cincinnati-Louisville, Rutgers-Connecticut, Houston-SMU and the West-coast duo of Boise State-San Diego State. Each league team will face the other 11 within the first two years, with opponents likely to be unveiled in the first week of December. The Big East will do another split for divisions in 2015, when Navy and an as-yet-unnamed 14th school (likely BYU or Air Force) are expected to join the league.
That leaves one huge item on Aresco's agenda -- negotiating a lucrative new TV deal, having entered into an open market this month with NBC seen as the top challenger to ESPN.
"Anybody that has our package is going to have a conference that's elevating its brand and its presence. I think we offer an awful lot to anybody who is interested in our rights, and believe me, there are plenty of people who are," he said. "We've talked to a number of networks and other entities. We're looking at all sorts of fun things. There's a lot of interest in our product, as we thought there would be."