After a bountiful week for the ACC, and yet another dark one for the Big East, there can’t be any Syracuse fans left wishing their school hadn’t made the switch. Last September when this move was announced, there were plenty of people (including this site) who thought it just didn’t feel right.
Even when the Big East exponentially disintegrated in the months following the announcement, there were still a few stragglers who rued SU’s departure – a loyal minority who wanted SU to save the conference it once founded. But now, even the most ardent Big East traditionalists have to admit Darryl Gross and the Orange decision-makers were correct in abandoning a sinking ship.
By the looks of it, SU hopped straight from the Titanic to a Carnival cruise, then struck a deal to stay onboard the vessel through 2027. The official news came down yesterday that the ACC and ESPN have extended their television contract for another 15 years. But this wasn’t a stroke of luck for Syracuse. It’s the whole reason the school joined in the first place.
The move to the ACC was always about money, and this television agreement assures Syracuse that it will indeed ring the cash register. The new deal is work $3.6 billion, or an average of about $17.1 million annually per school. That’s unheard of green for the Big East. There also is a provision allowing for renegotiation every five years, in case it looks beneficial to start the ACC Network, just like the B1G has.
Compare the ACC’s lucrative 15-year pact to the Big East’s situation. Its current deal with ESPN will expire after next season. After turning down respectable proposals from ESPN in the past, the Big East will sit down at the bargaining table stripped of its core identity, and bring a strange mash-up of Northeast basketball schools and far-flung football ones. The league will attempt to start a bidding war between Fox, NBC, CBS, and ESPN. But in all likelihood, the Big East will find a TV contract worth cents on the dollar in comparison to the other BCS conferences.
And that’s in large part due to the wonderful work of Mike Tranghese and “The Electrician” John Marinatto, whose treacherous run atop the Big East finally came to an end this week. His parting words were ironically illogical.
“Our recent expansion efforts have stabilized the conference for the long term, and we are likewise well positioned for our very important upcoming television negotiations. As a result, I felt this was the right time to step aside and to let someone else lead us through the next chapter of our evolution.”
Those comments sit somewhere between stubbornness and obliviousness. The league is remarkably unstable, trying to find common ground between Seton Hall and San Diego State. There is still a grouping of northern basketball-only schools sharing time with large state institutions from Texas and Florida. UConn and Rutgers have been clawing at the walls to get out, and will jump at any opportunity to join the B1G, Big 12 or ACC. Now the conference will have its third leader in just a few years trying to salvage TV money in an ever-changing college football worlds. Stabilized, huh? Marinatto was essentially forced into his resignation, and his words sound delusional and ignorant.
In a few days’ span, the Big East overthrew its clueless leader, and the ACC cashed in with a huge TV deal. The evidence continues to show that Syracuse moved wisely back in September.
Posted: Andrew Kanell