Ever since Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh bolted for the Atlantic Coast Conference last month, the Big East Conference has been looking for a break that could possible save the league from extinction. Well, on Thursday, Boston Globe writer Mark Blaudschun reported that the Big East's Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying status was secure for possibly the next four years.
"'There's been a lot of talk about the Big East losing its bid,'' said one highly placed college official with knowledge of the BCS requirements."But as long as the conference exsists in football l the contract is iron clad for two years and there is also a two-year grace period (an NCAA rule) which extends it through the 2015 season.'"
"The BCS will soon begin discussions of a new contract which would start in the 2014 season."
This news is critical for the league, which wants to attract new members -- possibly Boise State University -- but also keep its current members from bolting to another conference
"The only condition the Big East would have to meet for the grace period would be to have eight football playing members," wrote Mark Ennis of SB Nation's Big East Coast Bias Thursday. "Having BCS cover for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons could possibly give the Big East a chance to get its house in order and bulk up its conference wide rankings for the evaluation that will come in 2014. Right now the Big East's champion has ranked well enough on average for to meet the BCS's standard."
"What the Big East needs is to have more than one team pushing for the top ten, and then have some more of the current members or expansion candidates hovering anywhere from 15-25."
Again, this is a big break for the Big East, however, as Ennis points out there's still a lot of work for the league to do. So far, this season the league as gone 26-9 against non-conference opponents with its biggest non-conference win being the University of South Florida over the University of Notre Dame, 23-20. Also, there's no Big East team so elite in the conference -- most would peg the University of West Virginia as the best team --that it could not be beaten by any of the seven remaining schools.
Is there potential in the Big East? Yes, but not a lot and there's very room for error for when it comes to losing non-conference games. With no elite teams in the conference then it will be tough for any Big East school to move up or into the top 25 rankings.