RHODE ISLAND -- With the college football landscape changing a bit recently and with the prospect of more changes coming in the near future, Big East commissioner John Marinatto talked about the hot issue during today's media day.
"We as a conference continue to monitor the landscape while focusing our time on positioning ourselves. Strategically position the conference for optimum growth in the future. Most importantly stay true to our values. The main key to long-term success and stability is maintaining a proper balance. The Big East conference is stronger today than at any point in our history. This morning I similarly asked our head coaches to refrain from speculating on these matters, and instead focus on their teams and the upcoming football season. Everything is on the table. We have been in this process since March when Paul (Tagliabue) came on board and we decided that we wanted to look at it and study everything. And historically, as you know, we like to do things quietly behind the scenes. Everything is on the table, publicly. We don’t talk about it., but we are talking about everything from expansion to our own television network, to things that we need to do internally. Everything is on the table for us. Next main issue is capitalizing on our television contract."
The Big East was spared from the lastest round of conference realignment. The Big Ten added Nebraska, and the Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah. Boise State jumped to the Mountain West. The Big 12 was on the brink of extinction with talk of Texas, Oklahoma and others ready to jump to the Pac-10. But Texas decided to stay, saving the conference -- for now at least. The Big 12 plans to move for the 2011 season with 10 teams, minus Nebraska and Colorado.
But it's possible when the Big Ten expands again -- and it appears the conference will -- that it may target a team from the Big East, whether it's Rutgers, Syracuse or Pittsburgh, or a even combination of those teams. A potentially big factor is Notre Dame. Notre Dame remains independent in football, but plays its other sports in the Big East. If Notre Dame were to join the Big Ten in all sports, would that be the crack that crumbles the Big East?
The Big Ten held its media day yesterday in Chicago and announced it would hold a championship game next season. With the addition of Nebraska next season, the conference has 12 teams.
Marinatto on what it was like for college sports as the conference realignment was shaking out:
"All of us in the 10-day period in June, we all got extraordinarily weak when we were looking at Orangbloods.com every morning and continuously following what was going on because it seemed like they knew everything. That was the same week as the meetings that were taking place in California, and five of the six qualifying conference commissioners felt that they couldn’t go to those meetings because it was such an extraordinary (situation). When we all, when those 10 days were over, we all breathed a sigh of relief, happy with the way that it ended and most of us didn’t want to have that kind of a change, we didn’t think it was healthy for collegiate athletics as a group moving forward. So all of us in collegiate athletics that week kept in touch, maintained contact and were planning accordingly. It certainly was an interesting time in the road of college sports.
"Because of that extraordinary week, all of us were making contingency plans for what might happen if indeed those scenarios played out. And Texas making the decision to stay with the Big 12 allowed us to put aside those contingency plans, and move forward with what we were doing with Paul (Tagliabue), but all of us, all of the conferences in the event that the whole Texas move to the Pac 10 happened, had plans in place as to what we were doing and planning that way."