Big East commissioner Mike Aresco talked before the USF-Rutgers game, and came out with a simple message to all the critics who have declared the league dead with the departure of Notre Dame.
"Complete nonsense," he said. "First of all. I've read some of the articles. Some have been fair, others haven't been fair. We have a great basketball conference. Notre Dame -- we enjoy having the relationship -- but when you have Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, and UConn and Georgetown and Villanova and an up and coming St. John's, the possibility of DePaul doing well in Chicago, and adding Memphis and Temple, two strong programs. ... When you have all that, how can anybody argue we aren't top to bottom the best basketball conference in the country? We're right up there.
"When you lose a team there's always some comment and that's fine. We know we have a strong future, and we also know we've reconstituted our football and we've added some outstanding teams. The old Big East in football was a very good conference, but it didn't have a Boise, which has a national appeal, it didn't have range, it didn't have the Texas schools. We have a bright outlook, and I'm going to make that point. What we don't want to do is let a narrative take over that might simply be inaccurate. It is simply inaccurate."
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"We all know when you take some hits, you have to deal with it," Aresco said. "We're dealing with it. We're dealing with it in a straightforward way. We have a positive outlook, a positive future and really that's it."
Aresco addressed a few other questions during his media availability:
I asked whether the future bowl lineup would be affected without Notre Dame as leverage for positioning. "I'm not sure it will have that much of an impact," Aresco said. "They weren't involved in all of our bowls. The BCS meetings resume in Chicago next week and I'll be vigorously promoting the position of the Big East. We want fair and good access for our champion in the new environment with the six bowls. We also want to make sure we have a good roster of bowls. We've even talked about doing something on our own, not as a substitute for anything, because we want to make sure we're nationally relevant and we will be. I'm not suggesting we've done what the SEC has done recently, but no one has. We've done very well when we've been in BCS bowl games. Our bowl record is excellent. That's how we make our case."
I asked if the Big East would now consider an all-sports member for team No. 14 in football. Aresco said the initial thought was for a football-only school. He also added that he anticipates the Big East will have 12 football members next year.
Aresco also was asked about the start of TV negotiations. "We have had some preliminary conversations with ESPN," he said. "We'll get into that in earnest pretty soon. We value the ESPN relationship. ... We have a lot of people interested in us, we've got a lot of different options. The thing you have to remember, we have an enormous amount of quality product. We have outstanding major markets, we have teams that matter in those markets. I like the position we're in."