After spending the first 24 years of my life on the East Coast, I've spent the last nine on the West. I'm living proof that the East Coast Bias is real and palpable.
I can't tell you how many times I've turned on the TV, excited to watch great college football, only to get stuck with something like Washington State vs. Cal and shaken my fist at the Gods for their insolence.
As most of you can attest, when you live on the East Coast, you just don't care about West Coast sports. Especially PAC-10/12 college sports. The schools are so far away, they play their games at weird hours and you rarely see any of them on your schedule.
One of the biggest reasons has to have been the PAC-10's TV deal. Mired in an abysmal Fox Sports TV deal, it's been hard work for fans here on the West Coast to locate Western sporting events on the TV, let alone East Coast fans up at midnight looking for some football or basketball to fall asleep to. Other than the ABC Football PAC-10 Game of the Week (which invariably prevented me from watching a much better SEC or Big 12 game every Saturday), it was near impossible to find PAC-10 football on your TV unless you had some kind of fancy satellite system.
On Wednesday morning, the Pac-12 will announce its new media rights deal. In simple terms, this is the television contract that will power the conference, and its 12 member institutions, for the next decade, with revenue expected to top-out at $3 billion. If the reported numbers are correct, and we'll have final confirmation on Wednesday, the Pac-12 will hold the most lucrative TV contract in college athletics, with the 12 schools expected to receive just about $21 million a year over the 12-year span of the deal.
Get ready to watch a lot more Colorado-Washington State basketball games, folks. (Sorry for picking on the Cougs so much, it's just what everyone does around here).
And so, with the SEC, ACC and now the PAC-12 gobbling up precious airtime on the ESPN family of networks, as well as on stations like CBS, FOX and ABC, one has to wonder...what's going to be left for the Big East?
The league is supposedly already in talks with ESPN about a new deal, which is all well and good. Except that the current one locks us in until 2013. By then, it seems like every other BCS conference is going to be rolling in precious, precious ESPN money.
In the initial report, the Big East was deciding whether or not to take their TV deal to the open market. One wonders if they'll have a choice. Already pushed to weekday nights for feature games and shuffled off regularly to ESPN2 or ESPN3.com, the conference will have a hard time carving out primetime space on any of the major networks on a consistent basis, especially when it comes to football.
I don't even want to think about a Fox Sports deal. So let's just let that one go...
ESPN still likely has the money available to make a lucrative deal happen. The question will be, is the deal in the best interest of the conference? Or is NBC/Versus interested in becoming the new home of Big East sports? Or are we destined to sign a ten-year deal with The Food Network (Guy Fieri hosts Big Feast Saturday!)?
In John Marinatto we trust. And therein lies the concern...
I'd keep an eye on Big East Coast Bias for their update on this, as well.