While estimation-prone types ponder whether the impending Big East television deal will be worth way less than the league once hoped or just a little bit less, the conference itself could be using its unique relationship with Notre Dame as a handy bargaining chip.
The Irish are members in all sports except for football, of course. This means their relatively valuable basketball program boosts the Big East, but Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson describes how NBC is thinking bigger:
"(NBC's) purpose (at the meeting) was to show they had an interest in the Big East and they had it tied in with Notre Dame football," Johnson said. "They talked about doubleheaders and tripleheaders on the NBC station. Not on the Versus or whatever they all have, NBC (Sports Network), because they've got several cable outlets.
"They talked about how they liked the time zones and they talked about tying in doubleheaders and tripleheaders on Saturday with football."
ESPN gets the first crack at the Big East's top games, while NBC will likely emerge as a contender if the conference doesn't sell all its stock to ESPN. With the league's truly national footprint, NBC wouldn't have a hard time creating an entire day's worth of college football programming, from the East Coast to Notre Dame to Boise State.
Of course, there's the question of what happens in 2015, when Notre Dame's NBC contract is up and the Irish could very well join a conference in full (which won't be the Big East).