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Can Big East stay in BCS?


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From the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel:

Can Big East stay in BCS?

Posted November 6 2003

The Big East suddenly doesn't look so big anymore.

As a football conference, it's more like the Little East now.

It may be super-sized in basketball after Tuesday's expansion announcement, but the conference's stature is so diminished in football there's a serious question about whether the Big East will retain its Bowl Championship Series membership as one of the six conferences guaranteed major bowl berths for its champions.

With Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College departing for the ACC next year, Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese announced Tuesday that Conference USA members Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida have accepted invitations to join the Big East as replacements in all sports, with DePaul and Marquette joining in basketball and other non-football sports. Also continuing to play Big East football will be Pittsburgh, Syracuse, West Virginia and Rutgers with Connecticut joining next year and Temple's membership ending after next season.

"We will be one of the six best football-playing conferences in the country," Tranghese said after Tuesday's expansion announcement. "I'm confident that we will be sitting at the table with the five other conferences."

Athletic directors from non-BCS schools must have spit out their morning cereal reading that. ADs from programs in the Mid-American Conference, C-USA, Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference will want to see some proof that the Big East plays better football than they do the next two years, the last years of the current BCS contract. The dissatisfaction these outsiders feel over the BCS may blow up in outrage if the Big East is automatically renewed when the new deal begins in 2006.

Now, more than ever, these outsiders see themselves as worthy of greater inclusion.

"We think we can make a strong case," Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson said.

Look at the Top 25 schools in the BCS poll today. If you project the future affiliations, the Big 12, SEC and Big Ten each have five teams among the Top 25, and the ACC has three (among the top six) with the Pac-10 claiming two.

Here's the eye-opener. The MAC has three teams (Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio and Northern Illinois) among the BCS Top 25 with the "future" Big East claiming just one (Pittsburgh). Notable is that Pitt barely sneaked in at No. 25. Also notable is that since the BCS began in 1998, Syracuse is the only Big East school in the new mix to finish among the top 15 in the final AP poll.

BCS leaders will meet next month and again early next year to discuss extending its arrangement beyond 2005.

Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione, whose Sooners are No. 1, expects serious questions about whether the Big East should continue as a member.

"There certainly isn't any move to make that decision now," Castiglione said. "We still have [two years] remaining on the current agreement. I know certain people have expressed concern in the past about a conference having at least one team consistently finishing among the top 15. I can tell you there hasn't been anything formally or specifically discussed about the future of the Big East, but it's a fair and appropriate question to raise. There just isn't a good answer right now."

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I think the bigga Q may be if the bcs will be around after the contract expires ... but if it is I would say they will keep our Beloved Big East because who else is there?

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