By Brian Murphy
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco has been on the job for about a month — and he's already deep in negotiations for a new television contract, fighting for access in a new postseason bowl system and dealing with the announced departure of Notre Dame.
"I knew there would be no honeymoon," Aresco told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday.
Aresco was the executive vice president for programming at CBS Sports before accepting the Big East position.
"One of my colleagues from my former life in the media said, 'It must feel like drinking from a fire hose.' It's all good. There's so many opportunities with this conference right now," Aresco said.
I will be writing about the Big East for Saturday's "Bronco Blitz" section in the Idaho Statesman. But here are some highlights from my conversation with Aresco:
• On the reported "seventh" new BCS bowl game designed to provide access to the Big East and other conferences when the playoff system begins in 2014: "I and some of the other commissioners have been pressing for more access for, in my case, the Big East. I think it's really important. I'm encouraged by the response, but nothing's set in stone yet."
• According to reports, the automatic spot in the seventh game will be available to the highest-ranked conference champion from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt. On whether lumping the Big East with the other leagues is a good move: "The Big East will clearly stand on its merits and what it does on the field. I'm very confident in what our Big East schools are going to accomplish. Access is access."
• On whether that spot will be reserved for conference champions: "We have been seeking access for conference champions. There is an important distinction to be made for conference champions."
• On divisional alignments for the 12-team Big East in 2013 and the potential 14-team Big East in 2015: "We're looking at some different models for that. We haven't decided yet. We have to get it finished in the next few months. ... I want to do it right. I want to make sure we get the right divisional alignment."
Aresco said the 2013 alignment would serve as the basis for the 2015 alignment. "If you do a divisional alignment, you don't want to radically alter it when you have new teams. We'll have a template that shows 12 and then shows what 14 might look like."
• On expansion: "We know we're going to need to visit it and we're thinking about it. We're thinking about a 14th team. ... I just don't want to get into any specific teams."
• On if adding a Western team is important: "If we did add a 14th member, logically a Western team might make sense. But I'm not mentioning teams and not isolating teams. We'll look at it and try and decide what's best for the conference. We want a quality institution."
• On negotiations with Notre Dame about an early exit: "I don't know what Notre Dame's position will be. We will engage them in talks." Aresco said there has been no negotiations at this time.
• The Big East is in the middle of a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN. It began on Sept. 1. "We're encouraged. We've had a long history with ESPN. ... We're trying to get something done. There's an awful lot of interest in the Big East from other networks and cable networks. But we're very cognizant of our relationship with ESPN. We grew up with them. They grew up with us. It's been a great relationship."
• On what he is looking for from the television deal: "I don't know what it will ultimately end up being but we're looking for financial stability for our conference and maximum exposure. ... The goal is to get the kind of TV deal that will make our members extremely comfortable and happy."
• Aresco plans to make his first visit to Boise for the Broncos game against UNLV on Oct. 20. Aresco said Boise State President Bob Kustra sent him a piece of blue turf, which he has on his desk. "I'm looking forward to seeing the blue turf in person," Aresco said. "I can't say enough about the program and what it's meant to college football. Boise is a great story."