By Brian Murphy
The Big East's seven Catholic schools could announce their intention to leave the league as soon as Thursday, according to multiple reports. The schools — St. John's, Georgetown, Providence, Seton Hall, DePaul, Marquette and Villanova — do not sponsor FBS football and are considering creating their own league.
What happens next is anybody's guess.
Here is a good look at the road ahead for the league from Pete Thamel at Sports Illustrated.
Would the basketball schools be able to keep the Big East name, a contract with ESPN or the tournament at Madison Square Garden?
And what happens to Boise State, which is slated to bring its football program to the league next year. Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com laid out the options for Boise State.
Dodd reports that at least one potential rightsholder was interested in only televising Boise State home games.
So what are the Broncos' options?
• Remain in the Big East: The television contract could still generate more money than the Mountain West deal and give the Broncos greater exposure across the country. The league could still swipe a few teams from the Mountain West. The Big East has BCS AQ status in 2013 — unlike the Mountain West – so the Broncos are likely to play at least one season in the Big East.
Even if the basketball schools leave, the Big East could still have a league that sponsors football.
• Return to the Mountain West: The league is willing to take Boise State and San Diego State back. It would give the conference 12 members, allowing it to stage a conference championship game and renegotiate its television contract with CBS. The Mountain West could grow even more, taking UTEP and Tulsa from Conference USA in an attempt to weaken that league. (Or it could attempt to grab Houston and SMU from the Big East.) The Broncos would also have to bring its non-football programs back into the Mountain West from the Big West.
• Go independent: BYU signed a television contract with ESPN and has been able to schedule enough attractive games to make independence work. Idaho and New Mexico State are moving to independence next season. The Broncos have always had a good relationship with ESPN and should be able to sign a decent TV deal. Scheduling and bowl agreements could be problems, and coach Chris Petersen has always valued winning conference championship.
Dodd's story makes it clear that there is a television market for Boise State football.
The Broncos would have no problem getting games with BYU (already scheduled), Idaho and New Mexico State. But coming up with nine more games could get ugly.
• Join the Big 12 (or Pac-12): If Kustra isn't burning up the phones to both conferences then he is not doing his job. If only it were that easy, however. The Broncos are way down the list of teams the Big 12 would consider and the Pac-12 has given no indication that it wants to expand again. The Broncos' lack of a TV market, its overall athletic program and its academic ranking and reputation are all impediments to a move to either league. The Broncos' main (only?) selling point is a stellar football program that draws ratings and has a (limited) national following.
What do you think? What is the best option for the Broncos and what will they do?
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