There hasn't been much news out of Villanova with Big East expansion lately, and it looks like it will be a while before we hear anything soon. Mike Jensen from the Philadelphia Inquirer had an article up yesterday about the news and its been as quiet as you think its been,
I talked to somebody in the Big East, somebody in a position to know a few things, and he used the words "holding pattern" to describe the current state of affairs.
The Nova Blog isn't surprised about the move, and isn't happy about the prospects of waiting an additional year before a potential move to the Big East for football.
In any case, it looks like barring a ferocious turn of events, this saga is going to extend into the summer, meaning that Villanova's move up will most likely be pushed back a year into the 2nd half of the decade. Disappointing to say the least.
Some people think this will mean UCF or Houston will now be the front runners, but I still think that its either Villanova or no one when it comes to expanding for football.
The other big news that came out over the past couple of weeks is the PAC-12's new massive 225 million dollar per year contract with ESPN and Fox. The first thing I thought is how this will affect the Big East's contract negotiations, and apparently I'm not the only one.
Chaz from Pitt Blather was the first to sound off on the matter, and I completely agree with his line of thought,
The first thing this does is render any and all talk the Big East was having with ESPN irrelevant. This deal, along with the recent Big 12 deal further drives up the value of the Big East media rights. Even if the overall product may not be the same.
With the PAC-12 and every other major conference using a secondary network has to make the Big East look to NBC, Turner, or Fox to broadcast some of their games. NBC especially wants a toehold in the college market, and their failed bid to earn a partial bid for the PAC-12 media rights has to have them looking to grab some part of the Big East rights.
One huge concerns that a lot of Big East blogs have with the new deal is the lack of coverage that the football teams would have on ESPN. The PAC-12 and the ACC are slowly starting to agree to a certain amount of weeknight primetime games that has been the calling card of the Big East, and the Big East Coast Bias wonders if the Big East might get screwed in the end.
Of primary concern is just how much programming time is available on ESPN/ABC to show Big East football and basketball anymore? With the networks guaranteeing games for the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big XII, and now PAC-12 in prime-time slots, just when will they have time to show Big East football? Additionally, the primary factor driving up the value of these media rights deals is the fear of being left without sports programming.
Now there is no doubt that ESPN needs to be a part of the deal, I just wonder if the Big East should give ESPN first dibs for the football rights. Sean at Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician has the same questions,
ESPN still likely has the money available to make a lucrative deal happen. The question will be, is the deal in the best interest of the conference? Or is NBC/Versus interested in becoming the new home of Big East sports? Or are we destined to sign a ten-year deal with The Food Network (Guy Fieri hosts Big Feast Saturday!)?
In the end, we have to trust the leaders in Providence to do the right thing for the conference as a whole, and I echo what Sean said at the end of his article,
In John Marinatto we trust. And therein lies the concern...
This will not end well.