As is usually the case, one realignment story — in this case, Maryland’s departure from the ACC to the Big Ten — tends to open up the proverbial flood gates to a handful of other reports, which opens the gates for others and soon enough you have a college football pyramid scheme.
One such report involves — surprise! — the future of the Big East conference. Per ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Boise State, BYU and San Diego State are still having conversations with the Mountain West Conference about re-joining the league. However, it’s reported that the talks did not originate solely because of this latest round of conference realignment. Though not official yet, it’s believed that Big East member Rutgers will also announce it’s intention to apply for Big Ten membership tomorrow (Tuesday).
Rather, discussions reportedly began when it was announced last week that college football’s new playoff would have six access bowls with one spot guaranteed to go to the highest-ranked team from a conference that does not have a contractual tie-in to one of the major bowls (i.e., the Big East, C-USA, MAC, MWC and Sun Belt). In terms of access, the Mountain West would be on the same level as the Big East. Still, McMurphy reports that discussions among the three former and possibly soon-to-be former members have “greater significance” because of the latest moving and shaking between conferences.
The Big East is currently on the open market for a new TV deal after its 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN passed. This is where things get messy with the likes of Boise State and San Diego State. On one hand, there’s still no definitive number (yet) that Boise and SDSU can hold as affirmation that a move to the Big East is financially worth it. On the other hand, any reports of wavering support from the two MWC programs — this is not the first time it’s been rumored that BSU and SDSU were showing trepidation — could affect the Big East’s TV negotiations.
And around and around it goes.
BYU, a former member of the MWC, is in a slightly different situation. As a football independent, the Cougars are in the middle of a TV deal with ESPN that brings in about $4 million annually. While a return to the MWC may not payout that much for BYU — it’s not even clear how the school could break such a contract at this time — it would give the program potentially greater access to an at-large spot in one of the six access bowls (and a higher payout).
The one thing to keep in mind about realignment since this is now everyone’s third rodeo in as many years is that everything was fine in the college footbal landscape as of a couple of weeks ago. Now, there’s at least some sense of panic. There may be moving parts, but not all of them will lead to change.
Updated 11:45 p.m. ET: Boise State president Bob Kustra released the following statement (H/T Idaho Statesman) about its future with the Big East:
“We are in contact with the Big East Conference office and are evaluating the information that has come forward regarding conference realignment the past few days.”
Not much going on the statement. Not overly promising, but not total doom and gloom either. Just evaluating options. Again, the lack of a TV deal really hurts the Big East going forward.