Next week, ESPN's exclusive negotiating rights with the Big East will end, and the conference will not be agreeing to a new deal with the network in that timeframe according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy. It's open season on Big East football and basketball, and the usual players will be going to war once again.
This seems like a prime opportunity for NBC to get their feet wet in the non-Notre Dame college football landscape. Reportedly, the Big East was most impressed by NBC's pitch in April (in contrast to those of Fox and ESPN), and with NBC not having a deal with any conference, why wouldn't they go all-in to try to get a deal done with the Big East?
It would be a bit of a coup for Fox to scoop up the Big East rights, adding them to their Pac-12 and Big 12 rights to create a trio of conferences on the network. With the Fox Sports One rebranding happening as soon as next year, there would be plenty of channels to feature their three conferences when you add the new station in with FX and the Fox broadcast channel.
ESPN has so many college football properties that I don't think losing the Big East would hurt them much at all, especially considering the Big East missing out in the musical chairs of conference realignment. This is going to be a jumbled mess of a conference starting in 2013, and the losses of Syracuse and Pittsburgh are really going to strip the league of a marquee team in football, unless you're a believer in Cincinnati, Louisville, or Rutgers.
When it comes to basketball though, the Big East is still a powerhouse. It will be interesting to see how the conference looks without Syracuse or Pitt next season, and with UConn teetering on the edge of academic disaster. At any rate, this is a last gasp for NBC to get their hat in the ring as a serious player in the college sports world.