NEWPORT, R.I. -- "Change is the new norm," Big East interim commissioner Joe Bailey said in his opening remarks for football media day festivities Tuesday. It's safe to say league members must embrace that mantra as they embark on a season of unprecedented change in the battle to survive as a significant player nationally.
There was a certain awkwardness with the presence of Syracuse and Pitt, both of whom are starting their final season in the Big East before leaving for the ACC, in the same room with holdovers Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida, and newcomer Temple.
Bailey and associate commissioner Nick Carparelli were respectful, but they made it clear they expect the Big East to emerge as a much stronger football conference when it adds six new schools in 2013.
Looking ahead to the addition of Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and Southern Methodist next year plus Navy and an undetermined 14th school in 2015, Carparelli said, "If you look at the record of the teams that are going to be in our conference in the future, you'll see it stacks up very well with a lot of other conferences . . . From a business perspective, there is no doubt we are better than we have ever been."
The immediate question is who will replace ousted commissioner John Marinatto. Bailey said the search committee expects to name a new commissioner by the end of August in time to begin negotiations with ESPN on Sept. 1 for a new TV deal. After a 60-day exclusive window with its current partner, the Big East may explore other possibilities, such as Comcast and its new NBC Sports Network.
"You're seeing multiple networks being a much greater option than it's ever been with the amount of inventory we have ," Carparelli said. "But we can't focus on that until we have our conversation with ESPN first."
The Big East also is trying to secure a major bowl alliance for its conference champion to help it remain in the mix when the new playoff system begins in two years. It's also possible it might seek to create a new bowl for that purpose.
"If there are years where we're not in that [playoff] system, it's up to us to find the best opportunity for our champion," Carparelli said. "I can assure you we've been deep in conversation with the Orange Bowl and other bowls to try to find a way to be in that system.
"We're looking at a lot of options right now in terms of talking to existing bowl games, finding out where we best fit in to the new postseason system, as well as creating new opportunities for ourselves."