If you thought things were crazy before in the Big East, you may want to sit down before reading about this news.
In today's piece of delusional Big East thinking, the struggling conference initially asked ESPN for $300 million per season in rights fees according to CBS Sports. That would have been a record for rights fees, crushing the $250 million per season the Pac-12 is earning from ESPN and Fox! Naturally, hearing about this sheer madness from the Big East, ESPN let their exclusive negotiation period lapse.
Now in January, the Big East still doesn't have a TV deal. In December, their TV rights were valued at between $60 and $80 million, a 75-80% drop over what they initially requested from ESPN at the beginning of the negotiation period. With Rutgers, Louisville, and the seven Catholic schools leaving the Big East, their rights have likely taken another huge hit, not to mention the national scope of the conference getting kicked in the teeth with Boise State doing an about-face and staying in the Mountain West along with potentially San Diego State.
The Big East, as currently constructed, may not even get $60 million a year in rights fees. Any network bidding on their rights is essentially going after UConn, Cincinnati, and Houston, and those aren't exactly superpowers in the world of football. And the Big East's dominance in basketball has taken a hit as well with all of the departures, leaving a conference highlighted by UConn, Cincinnati, and Memphis. With the way conference expansion is continually in motion, I wouldn't even be surprised if another conference made overtures towards some of the remaining Big East schools over the next few months to officially put the final nail in their coffin. With the new playoff system coming into effect for the 2014 season, the Big East is on the same playing field as the Mountain West, Conference USA, and the other midmajor conferences.
Without major media markets and historical progams in the Big East anymore, I'm not sure how viable joining the Big East is for programs anymore. They're definitely not going to get the $300 million they wanted, and at this point in time, $50 million might be a stretch. If I were running a network, I'm not sure I'd even submit a bid, unless there was a sense of desperation for content like there is with NBC. The Mountain West package looks much more attractive with the conference's newfound power in basketball and football, and while the markets tapped into might not be overly impressive, the Big East doesn't have the markets and teams it did in the past. Its clear the conference has become the biggest loser in conference realignment.