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Thank You, Thursdays. Love, Big East.

Chuck Finder at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a great piece this week on the state of the Big East and how it relates to the much-talked-about television schedule, specifically the "Big East Thursdays" mentality.

The article points out that the Big East's current contract with ESPN (and to a lesser extent with CBS) is reportedly worth $250 million for both basketball and football between 2007-13. What became the centerpiece of the football side of things was the apparent decision to schedule marquee Big East games on Thursday nights instead of the traditional Saturday.


The positives are cut and dry. The West Virginia-Louisville Nov. 2 game that was the "Biggest Big East Game I" shattered the network's 11-year-old record with a 5.3 rating that translated to 4.91 million households tuned in. Then, a week later, "Biggest Big East Game II" Louisville-Rutgers captured a 5.0 ranking and 4.62 million households. Put simply, Those broadcasts represent the second- and third-largest audiences for regular-season college football broadcasts in ESPN's history, regardless of day.


Athletic directors see these games as a huge opportunity to build a program, like say the Big East champion Cardinals. "If you look at a school like Louisville, they will tell you they built their program playing on Thursday nights before they got to the Big East," Pitt athletic director Jeff Long said. "Otherwise, their games weren't seen on Saturdays."


Opponents of the strategy seem to fall into one distinct camp: Coaches. Weekdays are for high schools, many of them feel. And it certainly cuts into your recruiting ability when you're playing multiple games on Thursdays and your recruits can't attend cause they're getting ready for their game the next day.


UConn coach Randy Edsell says "I really don't like playing on a day other than Saturday. I know we have to do it because of the TV and the money. I don't like it, No. 1, because of the high schools [on Fridays]. And, No. 2, during the week because of missing class. Coaches get put under the pressure of not graduating your players and all that, but then you're going to play during the week."
But the flip side is that being on TV in front of a national audience certainly doesn't hurt recruiting.

Personally, I think its a nice little treat every once in a while but now that the Big East is re-establishing itself, I would prefer it if some of the bigger games were saved for the weekend. There is certainly an air of desperation or attention-seeking that playing games during the week calls out. We expect these kinds of things from the WAC or the MAC but we don't expect a BCS Conference to be a sideshow week in and week out. I'm all for carving out a niche and an awareness but I'm for acting like we belong at the dinner table as well.