August 6, 2012; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti during Rutgers team practice. William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
Introductions are key to any relationship, most people would agree. So, when newly-hired Big East Conference commissioner Mike Aresco took the podium Wednesday for his introductory press conference at the New York Athletic Club there was some pressure.
Now, the pressure probably wasn't felt by Aresco, CBS' Executive Vice President of Programming since 2008, as he's been in charge of a large corporate entity before. The pressure was on the Big East's presidents, who decided unanimously Tuesday Aresco was the guy to guide their programs into the future.
"I am very pleased to become the new Big East commissioner," said Aresco in the opening statement of his media teleconference.
"I am absolutely delighted to be asked to lead this conference into what I think is a very bright future."
It's said, actions speak louder than words, and at a press conference, just like personal introductions, it's easy to get caught up in one's words. But if there's anything into reading into someone's tone, Aresco seemed genuine and confident about his new opportunity with the Big East, which in reality is about as ideal as setting up a blind date at day care.
"I think virtually everything in my career has prepared me for an opportunity like this," said Aresco.
Entering his inaugural season as the Big East's head man, a tenure which officially begins in early September, Aresco will need to deal with issues other commissioners will never face during their tenures.
First, Aresco will need to figure out how to handle the swan songs of two major programs, Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, which both will be entering their final years with the league after being flag-bearers for it for 30-plus seasons.
(Sorta like the break-up stage.)
Does Aresco treat the exiting schools with any sort of farewell after three decades of service; or does he move on without any tribute to the programs that have combined to win six league titles in football and seven in men's basketball?
Second, the new commissioner will need to find some way to transition the Big East from an "East Coast" conference into a nationwide coalition involving schools like Boise St. Broncos, San Diego St. Aztecs, Houston Cougars, SMU Mustangs, Memphis Tigers, Central Florida Knights and Navy Midshipmen.
(New wardrobe, apartment, etc.)
A challenge that will be daunting considering all the programs being added to the league will be participants in football, a quality not shared by longer-tenured schools like: St. John's Red Storm, Seton Hall Pirates, Providence Friars, Marquette Golden Eagles, DePaul Blue Demons, Georgetown Hoyas, Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Villanova Wildcats.
"I think it's very important that the basketball and football schools stay together," said Aresco. "They want to stay together and it's very clear that they've committed to each other, and each makes the other stronger."
"I think the current membership understands that they are stronger. What I need to do is make sure the current membership feels that I am a tireless, tireless proponent of the conference. That I am telling the conference's story effectively well."
(Sticking to your roots.)
If the Big East is able to survive the football vs. non-football split, can it survive another major hurdle -- geography?
(Can we make this long-distance relationship work?)
"Obviously, its a diverse and complex conference," said Aresco. "But in the complexity is a great deal of strength.
"This conference is very excited to move forward. As I said earlier, I would not have taken this job if I didn't feel confident that this conference was cohesive and committed to each other."
But possibly the biggest issue Aresco will faced in his introduction was television.
(How much money do you make? Can I be financially secure with you?)
Without bigger-name programs like the Syracuse Orange, Pittsburgh Panthers and the West Virginia Mountaineers, who departed for the Big 12 Conference this season, Aresco will need to use his background skills as a contract negotiator to help the league earn a big enough television deal with a known network to make it relevant again.
"Obviously, working in television I've been involved in many, many negotiations, and obviously its an important factor into getting a negotiation favorable to the Big East."
(Yes, I make money.)
OK, but can his skills help the league earn as big of a deal as the one enjoyed by the ACC?
"I am not going to speculate on that," said Aresco. "I don't want to set any benchmarks, but I do think the Big East has an outstanding product in both football, basketball and women's and Olympic sports."
(Ah, not that much money.)
"In the end of the day, the value of the Big East will be recognized."
(But enough to make you very happy.)
Actually, in the end, Wednesday wasn't a time Aresco wanted to start talking or working on problems of the future. It was a day for him to introduce himself to the national college media and make sure the presidents who hired him believed he's the right man for this relationship.
If one were to grade Aresco's initial introduction, he probably earned himself another date.