By Brian Murphy
It could be weeks or months before the Big East is prepared to announce a television contract, Commissioner Mike Aresco told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday.
"I don't know whether we're in the second inning or the third inning. We have a long way to go," Aresco said.
ESPN's exclusive negotiating window with the Big East expired at the beginning of the month. Aresco said the league is still talking with its current TV partners, but has also had discussions with other networks.
Aresco said the league has talked with "unconventional distributors" as well and the Big East "is not going to leave any idea out of the mix," including a digital network.
"There's a lot of interest in this product," he said.
On other topics:
• On divisional alignment: Aresco said Temple was on board with being placed in the Big East's West Division. He said Temple understood that when it rejoined the Big East this year it might have to be in the west.
Aresco said the plan is to minimize travel as much as possible.
"We owe it to the student-athletes and the players not to have to burden them with too much travel," Aresco said. "... We don't want the western teams having to come to the far eastern part of the country twice if we can help it."
• On divisional scheduling: Aresco said it more likely that teams will play the same three cross-divisional schools in 2013 and 2014. There had been talk of playing three in '13 and the other three teams in '14, but the logistics might be too complicated.
• On determining who hosts the conference championship game: "Conference record would be a prime candidate," Aresco said.
• On access to the new playoff system and top-tier bowls: The Big East champion is assured of a spot in one of the top six bowl games, provided it ranks higher than conference champions from Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt and MAC.
"We've given our teams a chance. We've given our teams a pretty clear path. Would I like the Big East champ to have it all to our own? Of course. But you play the hand you're dealt," Aresco said.
"We think we deserve it. We have to share in the sense that we have to win it, it's not just automatic. We think that will happen because of the strength of the league."
Aresco said he prefers a six-game set-up to a proposed seventh game as it will give the Big East champion (if it qualifies) an opportunity to play in one of the "access" bowls.
The "access" bowls are expected to be the Fiesta, Cotton and Chick-Fil-A games.
Aresco said the revenue will be comparable to other bowl games outside of the Rose and Sugar, which are worth $80 million. The Orange Bowl is worth $55 million.
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