Just when we thought the Big East rights were shipping off to NBC Sports Network, SBJ reports ESPN swooped in at the 11th hour to match the $20 million per year offer. Conference presidents still have to approve the deal, but it seems unlikely that the rights will be moving over to NBC.
This is a blow to NBC for sure as the sports network is trying to widen its sports coverage to more than just hockey and Notre Dame football. ESPN ultimately decided it was worth it to step in and block NBC from gaining a foothold in college sports once again. And, ESPN may even combine with Fox once again (as they did with the Pac 12 to block NBC) as Bristol may sublicense games to other networks as part of the new agreement.
As we previously mentioned, in 2011 the conference turned down a $130 million a year offer from ESPN for its rights. Then realignment happened, and when the dust settled, the Big East, which used to have BC, Miami, and Virginia Tech once upon a time, was left with basically nothing. And I do mean nothing, what with the Catholic 7 defecting and taking their rights elsewhere.
Whomever is responsible for taking this conference from East to Least should have the same job security as Mark Emmert. You know what this whole thing reminds me of? Myspace being sold for $580 million in 2005, and then being sold again in 2011 for $35 million. And that's what the Big East has become. Myspace.