BGN Exclusive: Mike Tranghese

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese addressed the College of Law Friday after the WVU-Maryland game. The Blue and Gold News spoke with him on subjects from revisiting the Prop 48 rule and current conference scheduling of Boston College to the monies associated with the league's new television deal. Now, in an exclusive interview, read Tranghese's frank, insightful comments on the above and more. Mr. Tranghese, the Big East has not released the monetary amounts or allotments for the newly-signed television deal with the ESPN family of networks. Will they? And if not, why not? Is it less than would have been desired?

Tranghese: "Our agreement with ESPN is not to talk about the monies. But in both sports it is a significant increase to a point where it allows us, as a conference, to look long-term at our situational financially. We will be in really good shape. There was a perception that is was less, but I can tell you that was not the case at all."

BGN: Some league presidents and coaches have argued that the Big East would be better served, especially in a football context at a time when its most needed, by allowing Props, or at least two or three per year as opposed to none. Would you ever revisit that ruling?

Tranghese: "It had nothing to do with me. That is a presidential issue. They are the ones who raised it. There is a pretty strong sentiment about it. I just don't sense the environment to revisit it. I know Rich (Rodriguez, WVU's head football coach) feels that way. People ask me my opinion and I tell them it doesn't matter what my opinion is because I don't have a vote. All I did was bring the information together and they voted on it (13-3 in favor of no Props). Five of six leagues now have the same rule. The only one that doesn't is the SEC."

BGN: Do you worry that some student-athletes, which could have indeed made it in college, will not be given that chance, perhaps the students who most need it, because of the rule?

Tranghese: "Again, it doesn't matter how I feel. That is up to the university presidents. Any of them may raise that concern at any time and a vote will be taken on it. But I just don't feel that change is desired when I am in the room with all of them."

BGN: Syracuse has decided to schedule Boston College in football. With all that has happened between the Big East and the ACC, how do you feel about member institutions scheduling games with former members Miami, Virginia Tech or Boston College? Would you discourage it?

Tranghese: "I know people wonder why they are doing that, and think it may not be right. I tell them to schedule who they want to. Syracuse likes that game. I am not sure why they want it. I know why Boston College does. It's so they can have a close game in the northeast. I want the athletic directors to run their programs how they see fit. If they want to schedule them, fine. If not, fine."

BGN: On that note, it has been rumored that Boston College would like to come back to the Big East because it has such long travel for away games and other considerations. Would you ever consider that?

Tranghese: "Boston College is not interested in coming back. I have talked to the Boston College people. They are very happy where they are and they are very happy with their decision to go to the ACC."

BGN: It was reported a Boston newspaper that BC dropped Notre Dame to schedule Syracuse. That seems amazing.

Tranghese: "They didn't drop Notre Dame. Nobody drops Notre Dame. I read that article and Mike Vega wrote that. If you think they dropped Notre Dame, you're drinking something. That thought is absurd. Unless you like in Boston, I guess."

BGN: How much did West Virginia's Sugar Bowl win help change the perception of the Big East? Where is that perception now, in relation to where you would like it to be or feel comfortable with it being?

Tranghese: "I can't tell you the significance of how big your University's win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl was. In my opinion, it was the most significant game played in the history of the Big East. That night in the Dome the shock of everything that had happened and been said was gone. The vacuum of negativity in which we had been operating had a light at the end. I have sat through thousands of games, and that was the most important game in the history of the Big East with how it turned out.

"I think the perception has changed somewhat, but it is still a work in progress. I think people are waiting to see where we are going. You can't just totally change people's minds with a game, like the West Virginia-Georgia game. But what that did was change the perception, the willingness to be open-minded about it. I think a Pittsburgh beating Virginia convincingly, a Rutgers beating a Carolina, an Illinois convincingly, Louisville playing Miami. It is a series of games. If you do well enough, people will say ‘Gee, you know, they are pretty good.'"

BGN: Did you set-up the football schedule so that the perceived higher-level teams in the Big East, like West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers and Pitt, would meet later in the year to perhaps have what amounts to a title-game or a series of late-season games that are for the title?

Tranghese: "Some of it is by design and some of it is by television. When we began our scheduling this year, the key date in the ESPN football schedule was that Thursday (Nov. 2). And we started the schedule out by putting West Virginia and Louisville there. That was the game they wanted. We built it from there."

BGN: Many people have argued that Notre Dame should be a full-fledged member, or not a Big East member at all. What are your thoughts on the Irish and their standing, and should they be made to become a full member or risk being dropped as a member institution in everything else?

Tranghese: "That's the most-asked question I get. I can't tell you what a great member Notre Dame has been. There was never any talk of them joining as a football member. They are the lone major independent left, and the only one who can support themselves fully without being in a league. Notre Dame could have gone off after everything with the ACC and scheduled whoever they wanted. But they said ‘This is the Big East These are our friends. We want to help them.' And now they are playing a variety of Big East teams over many years.

"The prestige of Notre Dame football can help the Big East members in many tangible ways. I can't tell you how good they have been. They could have totally left. One reason they are not playing Boston College anymore is because they are playing more Big East members and Boston College isn't one. They are a friend and they have been loyal to us."

BGN: The Big East has seen its Gator Bowl slot be shared with Notre Dame and now the Big 12, which means the Big East's second-place team might be relegated, if that is an appropriate term, to the Sun Bowl, which is not on New Year's Day. Is there any chance to get that bowl game solely for the Big East, or at least the Big East and Notre Dame?

Tranghese: "The Big East is currently being evaluated just like all the other BCS conferences for when the current BCS contract expires in 2010. It must continue to win. You learn that who wins arguments isn't necessarily the person who has the best points or is the most educated or is right, but the person with the most leverage. The Big East needs more leverage, and it can have that by continuing to win, so there will be more to work with when it goes back to the negotiating table. We will continue to work for more and better bowls, as we always have."

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