"It [the BCS] is such an entity where there's so many diverse things that come together that make it work," Marinatto said. "I don't know if all that will continue to go on the way it is. If they're pressured to create a playoff, they would simply go back to what the system used to be like and have it as an at-large, free-for-all where people can go [to whichever bowl] they want.
"I don't think the pressure would cause people to create a playoff. I think it would cause them to go back to where we used to be [before the BCS]."
Marinatto also told FanHouse that the Big East has "no intention" of adding a ninth-football member. However, if the Big East was approached by another school that would "add value," the conference would be receptive to adding another member even it grew the basketball league to 17 teams. Marinatto stressed it would not "raid" another league to add a ninth-football member.
Also in Marinatto's interview with FanHouse, he said the BCS wants the coaches to make their ballots public after next season. He said he's optimistic they will and the coaches' poll will remain a part of the BCS formula. Marinatto also said it's possible a one-loss team could get selected over undefeated Cincinnati for a spot in the BCS title game and why the Big East's Yankee Bowl will be a success -- no matter how cold the weather might be in New York in late December/early January.
When will you add a ninth football member?
There is no intention of adding a ninth member at this point. There hasn't even been a discussion.
Do you want a ninth football member?
I understand the reasons why people feel like we could or should have a ninth member and it's primarily for scheduling. Again, we've had this discussion in the room the last five years since we expanded to 16 [schools]. It always comes down to: we'll take a ninth member if that member brings value to the membership.
Even if that means increasing the basketball membership to 17 schools?
Even if that means going to 17. We're structured in such a way that we've provided for that in our bylaws. If a ninth member of value became available tomorrow, we'd expand and go to 17.
Would you pursue a ninth football member?
Will we raid someone to do it? No. It's not our intention to raid someone to accomplish what we want to accomplish. If under the right set of circumstances ... where someone might be disenfranchised and look for a new home. And if that school brought value, then we would be amenable. The world could change. The costs of travel could become such that an Eastern school that's now in a non-Eastern quote-unquote conference might want to look [and think] 'it makes more sense to be in the Big East.' There could be a shifting around. In that scenario, we would go to 17.
But we're not going to go out there and try and raid someone. That's not our intention.
Do you believe the BCS will continue to exist after the 2013 season?
The contract with ESPN is through [the end of the 2013 season]. There's so much resistance, or seemingly vocal resistance [to the BCS]. It's such an entity where there's so many diverse things that come together that make it work. I don't know if all that will continue to go on the way it is.
If they're pressured to create a playoff, they would simply go back to what the system used to be like and have it as an at-large, free-for-all where people can go to [to whichever bowl] they want. I don't think the pressure would cause people to create a playoff. I think it would cause them to go back to where we used to be.
We like the current system for a lot of reasons. It brings (the) regular season value because of the number of bowls that are available that provide so many students with the experience of being to a bowl game and that's a valuable thing.
The theory is if a playoff is created, the most you could do would be an eight-team playoff and those eight teams are going to be the ones that get to experience a post-season bowl. Whereas today you have probably 68 schools that get that experience, half of them walking away feeling good and winning. From a student-athlete's standpoint, we think the current structure allows for a better overall experience for more student-athletes. And that's really what, in the world of football, it's about: going to a bowl and experiencing that post-season experience.
In the Bowl Subdivision, people really cherish the post-season experiences. Whether it's the Rose Bowl or one of the lower level bowls, to get to a bowl is considered a positive experience. People around our table don't want to lose that.
Is there any scenario in which a one-loss team could be selected over a 12-0 Cincinnati team to play in the BCS title game?
I don't know until it unfolds. There are inherent flaws in the BCS system, it's not perfect. Injustice is possible. It's an attempt simply to get the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country identified to play each other. Over the years there have been injustices and we know it's not a perfect system. To answer your question, it could happen. It would be hard to see how it could happen, but again, the system is not perfect.
Should the coaches' ballots remain public and if they are not public, would the coaches' poll no longer be a part of the BCS formula?
Yes, transparency is important in a lot of things, but particularly in this at this point. We've talked about this around the room. We think chances are better that it [the coaches' poll] becomes transparent [than dropping the coaches poll from the BCS formula]. I think they understand at some level that it's important. Transparency is important for credibility. Hopefully that will happen; we'll see.
There clearly is a desire on the part of the commissioners around the country to have it transparent. We all feel that's important for a number of reasons, including credibility. I understand the logic of not publishing [the ballots] because of the pressure within certain conferences to help their own schools and a lot of other reasons, friendships and what not. But the reasons for making it transparent are more compelling than the reasons for keeping it secret.
The final [ballot] is the most important one. I would prefer that [all ballots through the season were public] but I don't know if that's a deal-breaker. The most important one is the final one.
Temple was kicked out of the Big East after the 2001-02 school year ...
My understanding, the group [Big East] created standards that they wanted everyone to adhere to and Temple wasn't able to meet the standards. [Marinatto was not with the Big East when the decision was made]
Could the same thing happen to another Big East school for not being competitive enough?
We have standards. In 2000, we created a strategic plan. Within our strategic plan were three elements.
One of the elements is referred to as the program standards for all of our team sports, a minimum number of scholarships you must commit; you also have to meet a certain percentage of the commitment for coaches and a facilities requirement.
When we expanded in 2003, we re-wrote the constitution and bylaws and created the contracts with the five new schools [Cincinnati, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, South Florida]; an exhibit to the agreement was the strategic plan. We told everyone these are the standards we created, you have to adhere to these if you want to join and make the commitment that you're going to commit to the standards, so it's built into the contracts. It's an overall commitment to excellence. They are not competitive standards.
How close was the league to restructuring the men's basketball tournament and eliminating byes for the top eight seeds?
The way it happened, at our summer meetings, several of our coaches raised the concept of changing the format of the tournament. What I said to them was we've really not talked about this. When we expanded the tournament to 16 [teams], the current structure was the only one they could accept and go to 16 because it protected the best teams.
At the meeting this year, there was a reversal of opinion [because] on the women's side, three of the top four seeds lost, and on the men's side, two of the top four lost [their opening game]. I said to them this is all new.
I had [men's basketball associate commissioner] Danny Gavitt do an analysis. Does it require more class days, etc. Basically it was a neutral effect on all of those things. We could have changed the format. Several of the coaches in the room who were advocating for it, upon reflection, weren't as excited about doing it any longer. I've said we've only done it [this way] for one year, let's just table the idea for a year and if we feel that way next year we can revisit it. For the time being let's keep it the way it is.
I decided to keep it the way it was for another year at which point and time, we'll reevaluate to whether we want to make a change.
Are you in favor of all 16 teams playing in the Big East Tournament or would you rather it be limited to only the top 12 teams?
A year ago, I would have said no [to all 16]. But it seemed to work from a crowd standpoint. We had such good crowds last year. Now ESPN is televising the first day [the first-round wasn't televised last year]. We've got ESPN2 for the first session, ESPNU for the second session. We were afraid we would devalue our tournament by going to 16 and diluting it. That didn't happen last year, so let's see again what happens this year.
The BCS is considering hiring a full-time BCS coordinator. Is former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese the obvious choice?
We've been talking about [having a coordinator] for a while. People [BCS league commissioners] who are sitting in the chair as the [BCS] coordinator often times feel conflicted wearing two hats because they have a built-in conflict of interest.
We've been talking about how we could potentially eliminate that perception because that person acts as the coordinator and also acts as the spokesperson. Within their own conference when you're the [BCS] coordinator, your own people [from your conference], you're not representing because you're representing the whole group.
We haven't resolved the fact we want to hire an executive director. We're talking about the idea. We haven't identified names. We haven't determined titles. We're not sure what the best scenario is to follow primarily to avoid that perceived conflict of interest.
You took over for Tranghese on July 1 as Big East commissioner. How have your first 100 days gone so far?
In so many ways I feel like we've accomplished so much. We got the Champs Bowl deal done. We got the Yankee [Bowl] deal done. We extended the [Madison Square] Garden contract [to host the Big East Tournament through 2016]. We hired a woman [associate commissioner Danielle Donehew] to take over for [associate commissioner] Donna DeMarco.
On the women's basketball side, we created the SWA [senior woman administrator] initiative for sportsmanship and ethical conduct. There are so many things we've gotten done in a short time, but there are so many things we need to start to deal with. The biggest of the logistical things is simply trying to relocate our office [Brown University bought the building the league's office is located in]. It sounds like a simple thing, but it's so all-consuming. Our intention is to stay in Providence.
The Big East added a bowl game to be played in Yankee Stadium starting next season. How can a bowl game played potentially in sub-freezing weather be a success?
We have three objectives [for our bowl games]: opponent, destination and geography.
Geography we address by being in New York because it's the center of where we are. Destination? New York City, Christmas, holidays. Opponent? Big 12. We have our three criteria met. If [Yankee Stadium] had a cover on the stadium it would be perfect, but it didn't. We had talked about doing this eight years ago. We had announced if the [New York] Jets built a new stadium with a roof we would create the Big Apple Bowl and we would host it. That would be perfect for us. The idea of being able to play this game in New York City on New Year's Day is what where shooting for.
When you go to Times Square and see the ball come down, it was just so appealing. I think that people would want to experience that. When you've watch it on TV since you were a kid, when Guy Lombardo would welcome in the New Year, then Dick Clark and so you grew up watching it. If your team is in New York City playing in Yankee Stadium on New Year's Day, wouldn't you want to go see New York lit up for the holidays and the ball coming down in Times Square?
I think we offset the weather with all those other things. And then as Randy Levine, president of the Yankees, keeps telling me: We're the New York Yankees, don't worry about the weather. The proposed dates are Dec. 29, 30, 31 or Jan. 1, but we're shooting for Jan. 1. That's ideal, you get there for the 31st to watch the ball and next day have the game. A day start would be ideal. The Yankees are in conversations with different networks to televise it, but haven't finalized what they want to do with it.