The Big East has found its new commissioner, signifying at the same time that the conference has a clear — or, at least much better — understanding of what’s truly important to its survival:
First reported by Mark Blaudschun, the Big East announced Tuesday afternoon that it has hired CBS Sports Vice President Mike Aresco as its new commissioner. Aresco will begin assuming duties in early September.
“The search to identify the new Commissioner of The BIG EAST Conference was truly an international search,” said Greg Williams, University of Cincinnati President and Chair of the Commissioner Search Committee in a statement. “We had many outstanding candidates, but we are fortunate to have Mike Aresco as our new Commissioner. His breadth of experience and depth of knowledge in intercollegiate athletics will continue to move the BIG EAST forward on a successful path. The BIG EAST has enjoyed a great history. Mike Aresco will help assure the conference of a vibrant future.”
It’s the right hire at the right time. Aresco’s first order of business will be to oversee the conference’s new TV deal discussion, which begins on Sept. 1 with a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN. Handling those negotiations will be Chris Bevilacqua of Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures. Bevilacqua led negotiations for the Pac-12 TV deal inked last year, as well as the Pac-12 Networks set to launch this week.
The next couple of months should mark the beginning of some stability for a conference in desperate need of some. The Big East lost four football members last year to the ACC (Pitt, Syracuse) and Big 12 (TCU, West Virginia), and struggled with new membership (re: Boise State) because of a lack of a longterm TV deal; the conference reportedly turned down a TV deal that would have paid all-sports members roughly $14 million annually.
The Big East’s former commissioner, John Marinatto, has since “retired.”
Whether the Big East can still get something in that ballpark remains to be seen, but at least the conference is hiring someone who understands the value of television as it relates to the overall health of the conference.
Nearly four months after ostensibly being fired as athletic director, John Currie has an official severance agreement with his former employer.
Tennessee announced Thursday evening that “it has completed an amicable resolution parting ways with former… Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie.” Currie had been earning $75,000 a month during a paid suspension; the university stated in its release that Currie will be paid a sum total of $2,220,454 (and 60 cents, for accounting purposes) no later than April 1 of this year.
Additionally, the release noted that Currie “will be paid his salary through March 22, 2018.”
In the midst of a football coaching search fiasco that included a Mike Leach hire that wasn’t, Currie was ousted as the AD at UT on Dec. 1 of last year and replaced by former Vols head football coach Phillip Fulmer. Between then and today’s announcement, Currie had been technically employed but suspended with pay by the university.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Currie had been hired as an executive-in-residence at Robert Morris University.
That certainly didn’t last long.
Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.
As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.
“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.
The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.
Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.
Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.
The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.
Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.
Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.