Right now, the presidents of 15 Big East-related schools are meeting in Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) to discuss the future of the conference. Syracuse and Pittsburgh are not represented, since they have formally agreed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. Texas Christian is represented, since they had agreed to join the Big East - though a Big 12 offer may be looming for the Horned Frogs.
On the docket is a discussion of the future television contracts, with the strong subtext of presidents feeling each other out for loyalty and dedication. Also, there will be a discussion of inviting Temple to join the Big East. Navy and Air Force's inclusion in the league (football-only?) may also be discussed.
The goals: are to come to a consensus on new members. Clarify whether TCU is dedicated to the Big East. And most difficult, come up with a reasonable plan that will keep the members happy.
As we know, these discussions center around the viability of the Big East as a football conference. If the Big East can stay at eight members, or gain more, the league can be eligible for a bid to the Bowl Championship Series construct, the college football championship system outside of the NCAA's direct purview. That automatic bid for the Big East is up for negotiation based on strength of the league, and the contracts are up for negotiation in 2014.
Many Big East members hope the presidents pledge their undying loyalty, and keep the league intact so they can all have a shot at the BCS money, despite the fact that teams often lose a ton of money going to bowl games, as U Conn did last year (they absorbed $3,000,000 in unused tickets, and a $1,800,000 loss overall).
But the money and the status of the BCS is still the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, no matter how much it affects the other revenue sports (like the strong basketball brand) and non-revenue sports.
Loyalty is hard to come by; the schools are as poachable as ever. Rutgers and Connecticut are begging and pleading to leave the Big East for seemingly more stable Atlantic Coast conference. But no invitation from that southern conference is coming, at least not anytime soon. Stability is what all of the schools crave; the football schools need to know that their level of competition will stay the same or get better.
Yesterday, Rutgers slap boxed Syracuse to a 19-16 "victory" that was hard to watch... and went to overtime. Connecticut lost to Western Michigan, the kind of directional school power conference fans usually mock. Louisville lost to Marshall. Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia handled their business nicely, but the point remains - the Big East teams aren't actually good at football.
But football drives the league's motions.
So today's meeting needs to keep those programs placated.
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