clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big East Network Part II

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

So I first mentioned this a few weeks back. Didn't give it much thought since, other than to again ask myself WHY it couldn't happen.

But now, it appears the idea is real:
Paul Tagliabue, the former commissioner of the National Football League who is now working as a consultant for the Big East Conference, says the 16-team conference is not standing pat while discussion continues nationwide on the future of the college sports landscape.

To that end, Tagliabue is advising the Big East on its television rights. One option would be for the Big East to follow the example of the Big Ten and form its own network.

He said it was too early to say whether the Big East would go that route.

"A lot of what is being discussed has to be explored quietly and in depth," he said.
And as I also pointed out in that initial article, the Big East's reach is pretty significant:
The Big East also would have a bigger reach. Seven members of the conference are located in the top 12 media markets in the country. And 12 members are located in the top 34. That covers more than a quarter of all U.S. markets, the largest coverage of any conference in the country.
Look, I'm not saying this is a slam dunk. I merely brought it up because it seems foolish to me that the Big Ten is the only conference that can have its own network. I think eventually you'll see all major conferences with their own network. Just look at how sports programming has grown. ESPN started in 1979 and sat as the only round-the-clock sports channel for a while. But now, 30 years later, you've got FOUR ESPNs, ESPN360/ESPN3, Fox Sports, CBS College Sports, the Big Ten Network, and the like.

And it's easy to sit back and laugh, focusing on the Big East's inability to show quality football games. Fine. But look at the basketball games that could be showcased? And trust me, I've seen some pretty bad Big Ten matchups on their network along with the host of team features and minor sports including college baseball, which happens to be on right now.

What I like is that the conference is thinking big:
Could Big East sports alone be enough to entice cable subscribers? Maybe not. But Marinatto says the league has access to "other alliances that could drive that concept." He declined to give specifics, but when I asked him if by "alliances" he meant other college sports, pro sports or even entertainment programming, he said, "all of the above."

"Because we're sitting where we are in the Northeast corridor, we have people from our schools who are involved in the business world who are working at the right places," he said. "Maybe that can help create some partnerships that would make us unique."

Could you envision a Big East sports and entertainment network that includes not only league games but also concerts, Broadway musicals and Major League and NBA games from cities like Philadelphia and Washington D.C.? Who knows. Marinatto said "everything is on the table."
The question is, is it too late? And while I like some of the thoughts being thrown out there in theory, it almost seems to me as if these are more pipe dreams that actual living, breathing possibilities.

One thing I'll point out is as a sidenote to Paul Tagliabue's quote about the conference's study of a potential network needing to be 'explored quietly and in depth.' I agree with that, but I think it also needs to be done fairly quickly. Depending on what rumors you believe, the Big Ten is either on the doorstep ready to knock or at the very least, on the way over. It seems at least one Big East team could be invited and it could end up being three. The Big East has to realize that it's likely any invited team would accept, with the exception of Notre Dame. Since that invitation could come quickly, a plan needs to be assembled and distributed to the member schools even quicker.

A promise of a network likely will still not be enough for schools to stay. But if the conference can somehow make the unbelievably fast turnaround of getting a network deal secured with guaranteed payouts, that might be a start for securing the conference's future. Even if the conference lost some schools to Big East expansion, could a Big East network be enough to lure a couple of other teams away from the ACC or elsewhere?