The Big East, in its current form, recently inked a broadcasting deal with ESPN that should pay each school in the league roughly $2 million annually. While that is putrid compared to the bigger conferences (the Big Ten paid each school $24 million last year, for example), it was not the league’s only offer.
ESPN had exclusive rights to match any deal offered to the league and chose to do so after NBC Sports came to the Big East with a deal that was worth between a $20-30 million total for the entire conference.
ESPN chose to match that offer, but will be interesting is whether or not the network chooses to pursue another marketing avenue with the Big East as we know it today.
According to CBS Sports, negotiations with NBC included a potential $2 million bonus to market a new name. That is, should the league decide to sell the ‘Big East’ handle to the departing Catholic 7.
The ‘Catholic 7′ is comprised of DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. They are all Catholic and none of them play football. They grew more and more discontented with the direction league commissioner Mike Aresco was taking the league, as it had become obvious that football was running the show.
The Catholic 7 might have more of a claim to the name itself because of the history behind it. Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia and a number of others have all left the league already, and none of the teams that will be in the Big East in 2014 will have been in the conference for more than nine years.
In fact, in December, lawyers from the Big East sent the Catholic schools a document titled “Mutual Commitment Agreement – Initial Separation Issues List.” Basically, it was asking the schools whether or not it had wanted to retain the name.
Aresco and the leaders still in the conference have wanted to build a semi-nationwide brand for the last several years. A name change may be the best way to build legitimacy in a league that includes Tulane way out in New Orleans and UConn way up in New England (if UConn does not depart to another league themselves, that is).
Further, the Big East has become a bit of a joke in the grand sphere of college football. The Sugar Bowl champions in 2013, Louisville, is leaving the conference for the ACC after next season, further debilitating its reputation.
What do you think? What will the Big East be called should a name change occur? As always, sound off in the comments below!