As new Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco ticked through his long to-do list, the former CBS Sports executive didnt hide from the fact that much of his role consists of shaping public perception about Boise States future league.
Our football is a top-six conference absolutely, and its going to get even better. Weve added some great new schools. People probably had not appreciated what wed done. Consequently, it was important to get the message out, he said Saturday. Ive really been relentless in talking about this and I think Ive had empirical evidence to back up what Ive been saying.
The Big East entered the weekend with three members ranked among the Top 25. The Broncos will join the Big East as a football-only member next season, along with San Diego State (football only) and Houston, SMU, Memphis and Central Florida (full members).
The 12-team league is still working on a divisional alignment, but Aresco made it clear that a geographic east-west split is the leader.
Boise State would likely play in a division with San Diego State, Houston, SMU, Memphis and Louisville or Cincinnati under that split.
My goals have been from the very beginning to minimize travel, to make sure we keep some natural rivalries and to make sure the divisions have clear identities, Aresco said. Sometimes you see divisional play where theres not a clear identity. You dont know whos in this division or that division.
The league is also considering a north-south split or a so-called zipper method where rivals/geographic partners would be split into separate divisions.
Aresco said the league must make a decision on divisions by mid-November. A full schedule is likely to be released by January at the latest, with final television dates in February, Aresco said.
The commissioner said the Big East champion will be eligible to play in one of seven top-tier bowl games beginning in 2014 as long as the team is the highest-ranked among champions from the Big East, Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC and Sun Belt.
We expect to be in that game, Aresco said.
The league has talked to the Big 12 and Pac-12 about providing an opponent in the game.
But the most pressing decision for the league right now is choosing a television partner. The Big Easts exclusive negotiating window with ESPN for its football contract expires at the end of the month.
There is a lot of interest in the Big East. Why wouldnt there be? We span four times zones. We can do a football game from noon to 2:30 in the morning. Were in major markets across the country and really, really significant markets, Aresco said. We also have really good teams.