The Big East is no longer without a commissioner, and if all goes to plan they may not be a conference to pick on so easily much longer.
As we referenced earlier today in the Morning Playbook, reports were filtering through that the Big East had found their man to lead the conference in to the future, with an important negotiation on the calendar creeping up in a few weeks. As first reported by Mark Blaudschun, the Big East has hired CBS Sports Vice President Mike Aresco to ultimately fill the role previously held by John Marinatto, who was forced in to retirement months ago. Aresco appears to be a solid choice for the job, as he brings with him a strong background when it comes to college athletics and television.
Aresco has been working at CBS since 1996, and was named the network's Executive Vice President of Programming in June 2008. As his CBS Sports bio reads, Aresco is responsible for all college programming for CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network and he has overseen the acquisition of a number of college properties, including the NCAA Men's basketball championship and regular season packages for basketball and football.
With the Big East television package up for negotiation on September 1, having this kind of expertise and experience surely will come in handy for the Big East.
The reception for the new commissioner has certainly been positive in the early going, and as we might suspect the folks at CBS Sports seem to be very positive for one of their own. Dennis Dodd says the Big East hit a home run with Aresco.
"The slap-hitter known as the Big East hit the shot heard around college athletics," Dodd writes. "Let's put this in perspective. A top executive of perhaps the most powerful over-the-air sports operation in North America just left for a conference on life support."
Now, Dodd may be speaking with a bit of a homerism voice here, especially with the "most powerful over-the-air sports operation in North America" line. But the message is clear. The Big East found a leader they should be able to have faith in leading the way. At a time when television negotiations have led to skyrocketing values around the college football map the Big East has been patiently awaiting their opportunity to discuss their next deal. As the conference appears set to move forward with new membership this year (Temple) and next year (Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Central Florida, Memphis) and beyond (Navy in 2015), things look to be relatively stable in the Big East. Now the challenge is to sell the product to potential television partners, be it ESPN, NBC Sports or, perhaps, CBS Sports.
What the Big East ends up doing will be very interesting. For a while I had pegged NBC Sports to be the likely destination for Big East football, and I think that remains the strong favorite even after this move. But will this new CBS connection play a role in any way?
CBS Sports already is home to the SEC, and nothing will knock that from its place on Saturdays. But just today sent out an email detailing their plans to broadcast games from longtime conference partners Conference USA and Mountain West Conference, in addition to home service academy games for Army and Navy (including the season opener in Ireland between Navy and Notre Dame). Is there a chance CBS Sports could look at the Big East, which will be picking up the top television markets and programs from Conference USA and Mountain West Conference, and contemplate picking up the Big East in addition, or in place of, those conferences?
Given that the Big East now has a man in charge very familiar with CBS Sports's operations, you have to think of it as a decent possibility, right?