PONTE VEDRA BEACH — The Big East's TV deal with ESPN runs through the 2012-13 school year, but commissioner John Marinatto can appreciate how much his next negotiations have been helped by huge deals signed by the ACC and Pac-12 in the past year.
"I'm very excited about what the Pac-12 was able to accomplish two weeks ago, just like last year when we were here, I told you how excited we were about what the ACC was able to do," Marinatto said from the Big East's annual spring meetings. "It keeps resetting the marketplace, and it puts us, because of the assets we bring to the table, in a much better place to move forward."
The Pac-12's deal with ESPN and Fox is worth $3 billion over 12 years, or $250 million per year. The ACC's deal with ESPN went from $67 million a year to $155 million. So the Big East can improve on its six-year, $200 million deal with ESPN, which has a 60-day window of exclusive negotiating rights starting in September 2012.
"There's a distinct advantage in going last," Marinatto said. "Obviously, with the marketplace continually resetting, we sat here 12 months ago and were envious of what the ACC was able to do, because we thought that reset the marketplace. We sit here and in less than a year, the Pac-12 has reset the marketplace once again. So it's setting the stage for us, providing that we're obviously deliberate and aggressive, in order to monetize our rights in a fashion similar to what they've done."
MUCH HAS CHANGED: A year ago, Skip Holtz was one of three first-year coaches in the Big East, but now he has a full season and offseason with the Bulls and is lighter for it.
Holtz said he lost 32 pounds, a result of having a normal offseason to shed the weight he said he typically puts on during football season.
"Trying to eat right and work out," Holtz said of his diet secret. "Just the old-fashioned way, get on the cardio machines and try to work out. Losing weight is all about burning more than you eat. If you're not burning enough, you need to eat less. If you eat more, you need to burn more. I've cut everything back, trying to eat healthier."
WELCOME ABOARD: TCU coach Gary Patterson met with his future conference colleagues Monday, though the Horned Frogs won't join the Big East until 2012. He said he already sees the recruiting benefits of being in a league with an automatic berth in the BCS bowl system.
"The two things always held against us were we weren't in an (automatic) qualifying conference and getting a chance to get into a BCS game without going undefeated," he said.
NEW FORMATS: One of the challenges this week is deciding on a tournament format for basketball when TCU gives the league a rare 17-team lineup for (at least) the 2012-13 season.
Three formats are being considered — the simplest would have all 17 teams in New York, with the eighth through 17th teams playing as part of a five-game opening day, then the fifth through seventh seeds joining those five winners on the second day, then the tournament following its current format for the final three days.
The other options? The league could go back to its 12-team format, where not all the schools get to play in New York, though that seems unlikely to return. The other possibility would have the league's 16th and 17th seeds playing on campus as a play-in game.
The league also must decide on the regular-season schedule — the likely format is to simply go from three home-and-home opponents to two, maintaining the 18-game model.