February 9, 2012

You don’t mind if I put off any post on the game from last night do you? You don’t? Good.

So when last we left the Expansiopocolypse (and for the record, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that this word has not caught on with anyone), there were reports of a settlement looming between West Virginia and the Big East. The issue was that the numbers being leaked by each side seemed quite wide.

On the Big East side, the settlement would be in the $20 million range. By contrast the WVU side was leaking a figure of $11 million. That seems like quite a wide gap for an imminent settlement.

However, a parsing of what was actually written based on leaks from both sides suggests that both numbers could be correct. Bear with me, there is some math involved, parsing words and abject speculation. In other words, par for the course when it comes to everything else in the process.


Okay, first the WVU side since they have the lower number.

The Mountaineers will pay the conference an $11 million cash settlement to join the Big 12 for the upcoming football season, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The settlement is expected to bring to an end more than three months of litigation between the school and the conference since the Mountaineers announced in late October that it planned to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season.

The sides are scheduled for an 8:30 a.m. status hearing today on a conference call with Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein, who ordered the parties into non-binding mediation last month.

The resolution is expected soon, potentially as early as today, sources said, but it remains unclear if the $11 million figure includes a $5 million exit fee called for in the Big East bylaws or if it is in addition to the $5 million. West Virginia already has paid $2.5 million of that fee.

So the first thing that should be noted is that $2.5 to $5 million more could be counted in this. For the moment, I will make the assumption that only $2.5 million could be added to the $11 million figure.

Now more from the WVU side.

Sources familiar with the negotiations told the Daily Mail Wednesday the university is nearly finished with a resolution to pay a “cash settlement” of $11 million to complete its exit from the Big East.

“Cash settlement” is noticeable there because of the quotes. That might suggest that rather than a lump sum, WVU will be paying in some installments that might total more than $11 million but would hold a present value of $11 million — further bumping the number higher.

Now for something that overlaps and might further explain things.

Other conditions could be involved. One source said the Big East is aware the best way to mitigate damages sustained by losing WVU is by adding a future Big East member sooner than previously planned.

Boise State, for example, is set to join the Big East in 2013, but would have to pay a $5 million buyout to leave the Mountain West Conference early. The Big East – and by extension, WVU – could pay that fee and replace WVU with a school that lessens any damages the Big East might incur by losing the Mountaineers.

This gibes with the report from Brett McMurphy of CBS Sports, who has the Big East sources.

The Mountaineers will join the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year. However, in a bizarre twist, sources told that West Virginia officials have contacted future Big East members to see if one could join in 2012 instead of 2013.

The reason is that with West Virginia’s departure to the Big 12, the Big East will be left with only seven football members this fall. Without an immediate replacement for West Virginia, the remaining Big East schools will be scrambling to find a 12th opponent. It’s unknown why West Virginia would assist a league that WVU athletic director Oliver Luck compared to “a ship … seriously going down,” except that it could lower West Virginia’s buyout, sources said.

In this respect, it could very well be that West Virginia might give — let’s say Boise St. — the $5 million it needs to buy its way out of the Mountain West a year early. They would not be giving the Big East the money — so it wouldn’t be part of the money they pay to the Big East — but it would be part of the settlement.

The WVU sourced pieces speak of money paid to the Big East conference. The Big East sourced piece, however, says this.

West Virginia and the Big East Conference are nearing agreement on a settlement worth at least $20 million that would resolve all issues between both parties, college football industry sources told

Notice that it doesn’t say that WVU would pay that money to the conference. That makes sense.

So, now let’s run these numbers:

Portion of exit fee already paid ($2.5 million) + “cash settlement” with Big East ($11 million) + Boise St. buyout ($5 million) = $18.5 million

If the money paid to the Big East is done over the next 2-3 years, then we can assume that the total paid will be closer to say $12.5 million to get to the $11 million “cash value.” That adds another $1.5 million, and there it is. $20 million settlement.

Alternatively, if WVU is unable to convince Boise or any of the other future football schools to take money from them to come to the Big East a year early, then WVU would need to compensate the other seven Big East football schools for the scheduling gap and lost revenue.

To keep the numbers simple, let’s pretend it is $1 million per school. That would be $7 million in total, again, not paid directly to the Big East but part of the settlement. Which means the WVU sourced story is still accurate at $11 million to the Big East, while the Big East sourced story is also accurate in terms of the total compensation package.

Fun stuff.

Now for those wondering about what this means for Pitt (and Cuse) going to the ACC in 2012. It means that it won’t happen. No way — and I think rightfully so — will Pitt put itself in that deep just to get out of the conference 2 years early.

For 2013, however, things become a little more logical.

The WVU deal would be the baseline. The first key difference, is that Pitt and Cuse would not have to compensate individual schools or help with a buyout to make up a scheduling gap. The 2013 season will have SDSU, Boise, Memphis, Houston, SMU and UCF in the fold.

There’s a$5-7 million savings.

Next Pitt and Cuse are only leaving one year earlier than the by-laws. Not two. Taking $13.5 million as the amount WVU had to pay the conference to leave two years early. And with the knowledge that under normal rules the amount for leaving would be $5 million after the 27 month wait.

We know that it will then be a negotiation to reach a number between the two figures. The middle ground would be $9.25 million.

That would be a number that could work. Pitt  and Cusecould easily make up the additional $4.25 million each with the increased revenue from the ACC. To say nothing of better ticket sales for the improved conference home game slate — because you know the Big East would give Pitt a home conference slate of Memphis, UCF, Cinci and UConn.

Yes, I know what Pederson said as he continues the media rounds about Pitt not paying more than the $5 million exit fee.

But Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson made it clear that while the school is pushing to leave the Big East as soon as possible, it is not going to pay any more than the $5 million exit fee to make it happen.

“No,” Pederson said emphatically when asked Wednesday if Pitt would be willing to increase the amount of money to be able to leave the conference in time for the 2012 season.

But much like Marinatto saying he is holding Pitt, Cuse and WVU until 2014, it is what he has to say publicly for negotiations. You don’t admit how much you are willing to compromise.

There is also another component to Pederson saying Pitt won’t pay more than the $5 million exit fee. It’s about getting donors to help pony up to get Pitt out early. Pederson and Chancellor Nordenberg want Pitt in the ACC at much sooner than later. They won’t be financially reckless, though. The more clamoring by fans — and more importantly the donor base — to get Pitt over to the ACC, the more likely they will start putting their money where there mouth is.


JCE – WVU’s out of conference schedule for 2012 is already set. In fact, they had to buy out Florida State to get down to 3 OOC games.

Comment by Pantherman13 02.10.12 @ 9:53 am

JP, recruiting has never been Pitt’s problem, look at the nfl rosters. Actually coaching them on game day has been the issue. Ohio State can get all the 5 star recruits and Pitt still has been able to find the 2 and 3 stars that are actually 5+ (see Revis). I was also intrigued by the spread though, we just didn’t have a coach that had proven he could do it (we were drinking the kool aid without realizing his OC’s were the real reason for his success, see Morris at Clemson and Malzahn).

Comment by Howard 02.10.12 @ 10:24 am

I agree with Steve and think giving Cryst one year in the Big East without WVU before going to the ACC might be good, kind of like one year of junior varsity to get the system installed. Going to the ACC this year is tempting though, much better football game day atmosphere at those schools (and closer for me to drive to!).

Comment by Howard 02.10.12 @ 10:29 am

Cardiac Hill reports that the West Virginia/Big East deal is done and WVU will play thei upcoming season in the Big 12. That also means that Pitt loses two games from their schedule in TCU and West Virginia. They also comment that Boise State is attempting to resolve their current contract obligations and we should expect to see them in thw Big East for the 2012 season.

Comment by Justinian 02.10.12 @ 10:30 am

I talked to some Maryland alums last night at a basketball game who tell me (I was wearing my Pitt gear) that Pitt and Danny O’brian have talked and that Pitt is joining the ACC is a major consideration. Pitt is on his list. From what I have seen of him, he is a tremendous QB talent and that Edsall’s style did not sit well with him or the team. Personally, I give Edsall one more year before they run him out of town.

As far as WVU and the BE, Pitt needs to file suit immediately, hire an “asshole” lawyer and become a pain to the BE. Enough already…

Comment by Dan 72 02.10.12 @ 10:40 am

jp, one thing that needs to be noted about WVU … they have recruited for speed for at least 2 decades. Don Nehlen was one of the 1st northern coaches, if not the first, to recognize the talent athleticism coming from the south .. and recruited quite a bit from Florida and the south.

RichRod stepped it up even more when he came in 2001. If you compare their roster now, 5, 10 or 20 years ago to Pitt’s, you will see a much bigger influx of recruits from the south.

As you seen in the Orange Bowl, Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and company had speed to burn .. as did Devine, White and Slaton … etc, etc.

I understand your premise about a spread being competitive (and it needs to be knownn even how good Pitt has done with its 2-3 star Florida talent) but moving to a spread requires a wholesale change, not just a few players.

Comment by wbb 02.10.12 @ 10:53 am

So all we had to be was bitch and moan, create a lawsuit, and cancel our scheduled games in order to join the ACC by next year? WTF

Comment by Timmeh 02.10.12 @ 10:54 am

@Steve, I agree with you, I really do. However, someone would have to guarantee me that the 5 million would be used directly for student tuition, and not just be sent into a bureaucratical abyss somewhere.

Yes, it is an educational instituion first, but, frankly, I’ve paid enough in personal and business taxes, donations to the athletic, AND academic departments, plus many tuitions in my family, that if it’s just gonna be thown into a pool, I’d rather see them in the ACC sooner than later.

Also, remember, no one is jumping ship unless they are going to make money.

Even WVU, you hear 20 Million being tossed around. Believe me, the bean counters wouldn’t give their go ahead, unless the ROI is strong.

Same with Pitt, if the ROI is good, they’ll go, if not, they’ll stay.

Again, if someone can guarantee me the money will go right to student tuition, I’m all for it.

And I think we all know, that ain’t gonna happen!!

Comment by Dan 02.10.12 @ 11:00 am

@Howard, yes, football wise, might be good to get his feet wet for a year in the BE if we have too.

Comment by Dan 02.10.12 @ 11:05 am

How much of the $20M that WVU is paying to the Big East is Pitt’s share as a conference member ?

Comment by spindler's spirit 02.10.12 @ 11:37 am

Maybe the “buyout” of the Pitt/WVU game should be $5 mil and the bball games 1/2 mil each !!

Comment by CompLit 02.10.12 @ 11:52 am

Know this Urban legend is going to make a mistake he Is Not bulletproof.

Comment by 63 Team 02.10.12 @ 11:56 am

WBB, When Don Nehlen was coaching at West Virgina, he realized that he was behind Penn State and Pitt in the minds of western PA talent and he went down south to get some of the players he needed. However he still got a lot of players from western PA. Heck he recognized the talent of and recruited Major Harris from the City League.

Comment by Justinian 02.10.12 @ 12:14 pm

No we won’t out recruit Urban Meyer in Ohio, but I think we’ll get more that our share in Western PA. Also I think there are an awful lot of talented players in Ohio and no matter how well he does, he can’t take all of them. Besides Wisconsin’s recruits are rarely as highly rated, as Ohio State’s and Wisconsin does well with the guys they get.

Comment by Justinian 02.10.12 @ 12:20 pm

$20M just confirmed. Thats an absolute ransom by the BE. Hoopies are dumb enough to pay it.

Comment by Pitt it IS 02.10.12 @ 12:48 pm

Steve, the money you are talking about would be only $$ given to the athletic department and couldn’t be used in other capacities anyways. If you have enough $$ you can tell the University how to spend it.

Comment by Tossing Thabeets 02.10.12 @ 12:49 pm

Hey, how about this. Maybe some strong arm tactics are needed.

If Pitt, believes in the end, that no matter what, we can’t go to the ACC this year, we have to wait until 2013 at the earliest…….

Pitt and Syracuse leaving early (now) would cause a disaster for the BE of untold magnitude………..

Nordy and Steve tell the BE,

“look, if you don’t want us to jump ship right now for 2012, and cause you to have a total mass chaos, we want a contract written up that…

1.) only holds us to 2013, not 2014 and

2.) we want the 5 million dollar exit fee waived!!!!!!!!!!!

This is genius. Ya, it’s called extortion I guess.

I call it just letting them know the facts.

This is brilliant, we stay and get prepped for the ACC, we leave a year early without any noise, and we save 5 million dollars!!!!!!!

What’s their cell numbers???

Comment by Dan 02.10.12 @ 12:54 pm

now what will be interesting is how much, if any, of the $20M the two lame ducks programs will get.

There is no doubt that Pitt and Cuse will have openings to leave after 2012-3 … and with all of the new teams coming in next year, it shouldn’t have a big impact to the BE.

Comment by wbb 02.10.12 @ 1:10 pm

@WBB, if you’re speaking to something else, my fault.

If you’re replying to me, I’m not talking about 2013. I’m talking about the talk of Pitt and Syracuse leaving now, for the 2012 season, this fall, which there has been much talk about.

Ya, they’ll be fine for 2013, if Pitt and Syracuse decide to leave now, the BE conference would have 5 members for the upcoming season.


You may have been replying to someone else, so, disregard if the case.

Comment by Dan 02.10.12 @ 1:25 pm

It’s my understanding the West Virginia’s deal with the Big 12 was that they had to be there for the 2012 football season. The Big 12’s TV deal with ESPN was based the conference fielding 10 teams. That’s why WVU was so determined to leave the Big East before next year’s football season. The offer to join the Big 12 was a contingent offer, based on West Virginia being ready to play football in 2012. They were competing with Louisville to get the bid and the West Virginia administration went out on a limb to get it.

Comment by Justinian 02.10.12 @ 1:47 pm

Dan, I was not specifically addressing you but I understand your reasoning that Pitt and Cuse should look for immediate outs .. however, I’m not so sure it is going to happen, or they will even press to make it happen this year but will certainly be gone next year.

Personally, I can live with another year in the BE knowing there are greener pastures ahead.

Comment by wbb 02.10.12 @ 1:57 pm

I think it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Pitt and Syracuse are going play the 2012 season in the Big East. However with some of the new teams coming in 2013 and with West Virginia setting a precident, Pitt and Syracuse should be able to negociate a deal to leave a year early. The Big East doesn’t have enough football teams to let them off the hook any sooner.

Comment by Justinian 02.10.12 @ 2:11 pm

Justinian, you’re exactly right – keeping the ESPN contract is why the Big 12 helped pony up money to WVU. Pitt and Cuse are only an expansion, not a replacement, so there’s not that urgency. HOWEVER, I think (a) Boise will replace WVU in the Big East schedules for next year and (b) Pitt and Cuse are gone after next year.

Comment by KeyboardKev 02.10.12 @ 2:19 pm

You’re right wbb, I can too. Especially if it means another year in BE hoops.

I really just hope they don’t do some sort of playing the same team twice thing. Seems kind of tacky (sp)??? Ha ha, never tried to spell tacky beofre. (I’m probably not even close).

A year to have Coach Chryst settle in may be a good thing.

Hail to Pitt

Comment by Dan 02.10.12 @ 2:54 pm

Since the geniuses in Providence have mismanaged the Big Least so badly, they are responsible for teams leaving and not having adequate replacements. If things had been run properly the BE would still have Miami, Va Tech, BC, Cuse, wvu and Pitt. Since the football schools are faced with a big hole in their schedule for 2012 the $20 million from the Hoopies should be divided among the football schools. Further, since the bb only schools and the BE “management” caused us to have a lack of opponents for 2012 they should supply them. Let’s have Providence College, Marquette, St. John’s, Georgetown and Villanova suit up against Cinci, UConn, Rutgers, Cuse, Ville, South Florida and Pitt.

Comment by Houston Panther 02.10.12 @ 4:52 pm

I think JP has it about right. You either recruit top talent to play a pro style system or you switch to the spread which doesn’t require as much overall talent. Ignore the Fraud Graham experiment. It has worked for the hoopies and many others.

Comment by Houston Panther 02.10.12 @ 4:57 pm

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