SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
7/28/2006 12:44:00 PM
Big East Getting Bowled Over
Could Brian Brohm and the Cardinals be relegated to a forgettable bowl game after the 2006 season?
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
At the Big East's preseason media event in Newport, R.I., a couple weeks back, commissioner Mike Tranghese dubbed West Virginia's 38-35 Sugar Bowl win over SEC champ Georgia last January a "watershed moment" for the rebuilt conference. "It wiped out all this negative perception about the league," he said.
Not so, apparently, in the eyes of the nation's bowl execs. If you want a glimpse of just how far the Big East's reputation has slipped in some eyes, take a look at its reconfigured bowl lineup for this season. As you may know, nearly all existing bowl contracts with conferences expired after last season (coinciding with the BCS' contract), creating a free-for-all among both leagues and bowls looking to bolster their stature. It was inevitable that the Big East would take some lumps after losing Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, but after listening to a couple league insiders explain it to me this week, I couldn't help but wince.
First, the Big East is now the only one of the six major conferences without a locked-in "anchor" spot for its champion among the BCS bowls (i.e. the Big Ten and Pac-10 with the Rose, the SEC with the Sugar). Previously, the ACC and Big East shared an anchor spot with the Orange Bowl, but the Orange Bowl has signed an exclusive deal with the ACC for the next four years. Second, the Big East must now share the Gator Bowl, previously the exclusive home of its No. 2 team, with the Big 12. The Gator Bowl will select two teams from each conference over a four-year period. In years when it goes with the Big 12, the Big East's team will go to the Sun Bowl. Keep in mind that Big East partner Notre Dame is eligible for this spot, and all others, as well.
It's after the No. 2 hole, however, that things get particularly ugly. The Big East's No. 3 team is slotted for the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte. However, that game also has a separate deal with Navy for this season that guarantees the Midshipmen a berth if they're eligible. After that, the Big East's partners are two first-year games, the Birmingham and International bowls, and another that presently doesn't have a name (the former Houston Bowl).
If Notre Dame goes to the BCS and Navy isn't eligible, things should work out just fine for the Big East. But check out this hypothetical nightmare. Let's say West Virginia goes 11-1 and wins the league and Louisville finishes second at 10-2. Now let's say Notre Dame goes 9-3, gets crushed in its last game against USC and gets passed over for a BCS berth. The Gator Bowl would likely snatch up the Irish. Let's also say Navy gets its requisite six wins and goes to the Meineke. Unless one of the BCS bowls selects Louisville with an at-large berth, the Cardinals, who may even be ranked in the top 10 at that point, would be doomed to the Houston, Birmingham or International Bowl. You've got to think that would be a bigger insult than any verbal barbs the conference may be getting.
Don't you think this is just an example of a conference being "down" - much the same way a pendulum can swing back / forth? The Big East will be back. Until then, these guys will have to settle for the fact that they can whoop any conference's ass in basketball.
Huh? If it occurs, why is this scenario such an outrage?! I mean while Louisville and the Eers are baking cakes with such pitiful teams as the likes of Temple & Middle Tennessee and Marshall & East Carolina, respectively, look at the opposition against the Irish! Games include: Penn State, Michigan, Michigan St, Georgia Tech (on the road) and USC (on the road). Even if the Irish go 9-3, they would STILL be more deserving of a bowl game than an 11-1 WVU or a 10-2 Louisville with such soft schedules!!
I think this is absolutely hilarious. I hope all that stuff happens and Louisville and WVA end up begging John Swofford to let them in to the ACC, just so he can torcher the Big East more for a few weeks in the offseason before telling the teams to take a hike back to the Houston Bowl for the rest of the decade.
A UWV fan was commenting on their upcoming year. He said our "big" game would be against.....Cincinnati! Can you imagine an SEC or Big Ten team saying that? Of course UVW will be undefeated, so what. I got nothing against the Mountaineers, but, they can't be national Champs with that schedule. Fl. Tn. UM, FL St., mich, ohio st would all be undefeated with that schedule.
Seriously. "Outrage"? How about "the proper market response to the Big East"? In our more or less free-market society does ANYONE besides Big East fans care about the Big East at all? So why send them to good bowls? I'm a Big Ten fan, but I love watching SEC, Big 12, PAC-10, and occasionally ACC games. I wouldn't cross the street to watch a Big East game.
The problem is not, as Mandel seems to assume, that bowls still think the Big East rots. The reason the bowls have totally overlooked the Big East is that the Big East about the same number of fans in stadiums and drawn to TV set as the MWC. Bowls are successful in two ways: filling stadiums and getting large TV money based on TVY audience expected. The Big East delivers neither, and the only way it can hope to increas those is to expand to 12 football members, adding new areas and teams with the potential to draw 50,000+ per Home game: Central Florida, Southern Miss, Memphis are the three I would take no questions asked.
In a BCS league, USM could average close to 50,000, and UCF might be able to hit above 50,000, while Memphis could go close to the 60,000 mark for an average. All three would bring the Big East more TV fans as well. Plus, with Memphis, the Big East would have the Liberty Bowl for its own.
WVU took the SEC champ down, and Louisville put up a strong fight in their bowl. ND got drilled by OSU, so they have nothing to say. Pitt and either Uconn or Rutgers will probably win 8 games each, so nobody needs to talk smack about the Big East until we see how things go -- by the way, Michigan and several other Big Ten teams looked very overrated last year, so clean up your own house before you criticize others.
If the BE is so easy, let one of those schools join so they can run the table and play for a national title. Yes, the BE is weaker than the other BCS leagues but not as much weaker as you naysayers would like to believe.
Obviously John (the thief) Swofford is doing a better job then Mike Tranghese. To the poster who wouldn't cross the street to watch a big East game, yeah, I'm sure you'll be lined up for that exciting Duke vs anybody or that thrilling Miami-Wake Forest matchup. I think that one drew about 20,000 in the Orange Bowl. And I guarantee no self respecting West Virginia fan thinks Cincinnati is the 'big game'; obviously it's Louisville.
All I can say is that when the BCS bowls come around and WVU gets picked as an underdog, again, they will slam whomever they play, again. WVU has one of the more intimidating teams in the nation this year, and just because they are in conference that everyone has dubbed too weak to play against the others, doesn't mean they can't run with the big dogs. Just ask Georgia. See you all Jan. 8th.
Blah, blah, blah. The Big East is down. Yeah, sure it's weaker than it was but it's not as god-awful as the naysayers would like you ro believe. It's improving and will continue to do so. Hate to break it to you.
I guess UF, SC, TN and other SEC teams have difficult non conf. games?!?!? ...Newsflash...Temple is out of the Big East! Besides..it's all about TV in the end...The reason you send a Big East team?!...they win! VT, WVU, UM, BC...All you got to do is win...
Until they beat quality team's during the regular season (i.e. NOT Cinci, Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, South Florida and Rutgers) they shouldn't play in quality bowl's after the season. As it's setup now, the Big East produces an "all-or-nothing" mentality amongst it's elite. Lousiville must beat WVU to go to the BCS and WVU could get away with losing to Louisville and beating Miami (FL) to get an at-large bid. It seems fair to me: no risk, no reward.
Big Easy? Ask Georgia about the Big Easy. The Big East gets raided and everyone expects them to bounce right back immediately. I think they've done pretty well with the hand they have been dealt. People seem to show their ignorance when it comes to college football. And the Irish. Yea, they play a tough schedule but fall flat on their faces every year in a bowl because they always go to a bowl they don't deserve.
Who calls it "the big easy"? Nobody, you dope. I'm a WV resident and big WVU (not UWV) fan. Although I think it was weak and insulting of the NCAA to allow Miami, V Tech, and B.C. to leave at the same time, the ship is sinking and WVU needs to get into a good conference before they get sucked in. Yes, we're a good BB team this year, but don't look for that to last. Football is the only solid sport we have and the Big East ain't cuttin' it. This is all further proof that the NCAA are just money grubbin' whores.
Adding more teams to the Big East isn't going to help its football reputation or popularity unless the new teams include Notre Dame and Penn State. The Big East should just thank its lucky stars that West Virginia and Louisville have no place better to go, because if they did they'd be out of the Big East in the blink of an eye.
For the ND fan towards the top, get over your schedule. MSU and Tech are horrible. Teams like Michigan and Penn State w/ ND, OSU, Iowa and Wisconsin on their schedule have just as tough a schedule as the Irish. And they don't play service academies.
Every year Domers cry about ND's schedule. Every year the likes of Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State play each other, plus the rest of the Big 11 which perenially puts several teams in the top 25. Plus they all play at least one stud non-conference game. MSU and Georgia Tech are horrible, when you're throwing out those names to beef up your schedule, you've got issues.
Have you noticed how the BCS has made pretty much any other bowl seem small time? Who cares if it's the Gator Bowl or the Bowl formerly known as Houston? Also, Colombus, you have to go back years to find a conference that is not 3-4 good teams with a bunch of patsies. Goodness, there's only room for 25 in the top 25! That's usually 2-5 from each BCS conference with Notre Dame, Utah , TCU, and Boise rounding it all out.
This is why conference tie-ins to bowl games are crappy. I would much rather see a 10-2 Louisville team than a 6-5 Minnesota or 7-4 Wake Forest. No one watches the lower-tier bowls anyway, no matter who is playing.
The Big Ten should put the Big East out of its misery by bringing in Pitt, W. Va. & Syracuse, to become a 14 team super league, and forget about Notre Dame ever coming on board. What's left of the Big east could bring back Temple, and bring in Army and Navy and be what they are, a Mid-Major conference.
Dont say that the Big Least is close to the ACC. How many players from those schools were drafted? Who did WV lose to last year? I dont want to even hear them mentioned in the same breath again. I hope the Big Least gets its act together because it obviously isnt impressing anyone that isnt a fan of one of its schools. There are lots of teams that would go undefeated in WV's shoes.
"I would much rather see a 10-2 Louisville team than a 6-5 Minnesota or 7-4 Wake Forest."
But the 6-5 Minnesota team would be more deserving of a bowl berth. Play crappy teams, get a crappy bowl berth. It's that simple. People ripped on Texas Tech last year for playing I-AA teams, most of the Big Least isn't much better.
With no playoff system - debates like this are endless and lame because it's more comparing resumes and less about playing actual games.
College football more than any sport is dominated by greed. The suits who lead the conferences are mostly to blame followed by the filthy rich BCS clowns. Give me 1-AA any day of the week over this cesspool.
Conference is 'down'? The Big East is by far the worst major conference in the land. I'ts somwhere between the MAC and the Pac 10. Shoot, I'll go so far as to say that the SEC East, including Vandy and UK, is alot better than the entire Big East.
When is the last time a team from the Big East (in its current format) has challenged for the National Title? 'Down' is not the right word...'out' is a better term for the conference.
Here are your best conferences in order of overall strength: 1) SEC, 2) ACC, 3) BIG 10, 4) Big 12, 5) PAC 10, and 6) Big East.
I realize this is off the topic, but if I ever have a chance to trash the Ohio State Buckeyes I gladly will. This is for all you whiny, cry-baby OSU fans...Ohio State is lucky they play in the Big 10 because if they played in the SEC, they would have ZERO National Titles to their credit. Every year their schedule would be Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Alabama...and thats just in conference. WOW! People, there might be a year here or there where OSU is as good as any one of these teams, but these teams are almost always good every year and there is no way OSU would survive with less than 2 losses. We all know that you can't win a National Title with 2 losses...see last year!
Lets be honest, the Big (L)East is a complete joke in football. Just take their schedules(please!), first of all they have to play against each other, and secondly their collective non-conference matchups are absolutely ridiculous. I'm assuming that they thought they could fly under the radar with those made for success slates, NOT SO!!!
Sounds like "Louisville is the most overrated football program east of the Mississippi is a Kentucky fan. You don't even deserve to talk about bowl games, eerrr football in general. Watch and weep September 3rd.
Rickincolumbus, the Big East is much worse than the ACC. The ACC has the three bonafide powerhouses that you identified...Miami, Virginia Tech, and Florida State. The Big East has two "powerhouses", West Virginia and Louisville. The ACC three powerhouses to the Big East's two, and all of the ACC's top teams are traditionally much stronger than those of the Big East. Moreover, the ACC's so called "patsies" are far superior to those of the Big East. Which of these two conference’s middle of the road teams are better- BC, UVA, Clemson, Maryland, N.C. State, and Georgia Tech… or Rutgers, USF, Cincinnati, and UConn? C'mon. The ACC isn’t just FSU, Miami, and VT. The ACC has high quality second-tier teams and is therefore a much greater conference.
Anyone who watched the Mountaineers beat the Bulldogs know that this is a great young team. WVU fans have every reason to expect to see them in a BCS game this season. If one is to look closely at the other major conferences one would find that there are one or two good teams and the rest are there just to complete the schedule. Come on, the Big East's two top teams can play with any of the others.
The Georgia game was one game for god's sake. UGA had just come off playing a big game in the SEC Champ game. Certainly not motivated to play UWV or WVU (who cares which). WVU scores 28 pts in the 1st QTR and then "hangs on". I believe they had to fake a punt to keep UGA from getting the ball back. If the game had lasted 3 more minutes, UGA would have won by 10 points!
Louisville is overrated, eh? Had Brian Brohm not been injured, they would have likely beaten Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl last year, and the year before they came within a hair of upsetting Miami in the Orange Bowl and posting an unbeaten regular season.
This year, the Cards face both Miami and West Virginia in Cardinal Stadium. We'll see how overrated they are when the BCS smoke clears.
As a WVU graduate in 02' and having just finished grad school at the Univ. of Utah (06') I think I can offer an impartial opinion about conferences. The Big East is DEFINITELY the weakest of the 6 BCS conferences by far. However, having attended many Mountain West games, the MWC is nowhere near the talent or level of the Big East. I know MWC people always point to the Utah/Pitt fiesta bowl, but let's be real, that was an off year for the Big East with 4 teams tied for first. But revenue wise, do you really expect WVU fans, a lower income state to begin with, to travel across the country to these bowls, hence, turnout is low for WVU and the Big East gets bowl snubs b/c bowls are about money. Also, let's compare athletes from the Big East and MWC now in the NFL from the past 5 years or so. Marce Bulger, Donovan McNabb, Micheal Vick, Clinton Portis, Hasselbeck, etc.. all came from the Big East. Now, the MWC...Jordan Gross, Alex Smith, and who? Nobody. The only thing that can save the Big East is if WVU goes 12-0 this year with a BCS win (but not in the national championship game) and then 12-0 the following season 07-08'(with a National Championship). If CFB were fair we'd have a playoff system, but teams like Notre Dame don't want that b/c they have millions of fans everywhere and money galore. In some respects, a playoff vs. bowl debate is like a flat tax vs. tax bracket debate. If the conferences were reorganized fair and based on talent, the Big Ten should expand to get WVU and Louisville and then the remaining Big East teams should be dispersed amongst Conf. USA and the MAC. All that said, I hope WVU goes to a BCS and beats ND this year. If there is a WVU team that could pull of a USC-esk win streak it may be this team given the schedule. However, if Big East karma has anything to say about it, they'll probably lose to Rutgers by a point on a bad penalty call with 3 seconds left and that'll just add fire to the debate of the Big East sucking.
Yep Louisville is overrated. Since Petrino has arrived there, that program is 5-7 against teams with winning records. Sure is the stuff BCS champs are made of huh? Overrated because they play a puff schedule. I wouldn't go as far as saying the Mountaineers are overrated, they did hand one to UGA last year.
........."now let's say Notre Dame goes 9-3, gets crushed in its last game against USC and gets passed over for a BCS berth".......say what?......that's 2 things in one sentence that simply aren't going to happen. It says here : •The Irish aren't going to get CRUSHED by anyone. * The Irish won't get passed over for a BCS Bowl, EVEN if they are 9-3.
You're smokin dope Stewart. Better switch back to filter tips. It's more likely that BOTH West Virginia and Louisville will be in BCS Bowls (esp if Brian Brohm stays healthy) than it is that Notre Dame goes to a non-BCS game. You can take that to the bank pal.
Those of you bashing the BE schedule really don't know what your talking about. Granted our non conference schedules are weak but schedules are made 4 to 5 years in advance. Did you really expect us to have BCS schools lined up to replace Miami, BC and VOTECH(yes VO-TECH)immediately following their departure? One poster asked how many National Championships the BE has won since the New Big East was in place...come on! the New Big East is only 3 years old. WV had a nice win over the SEC champion and to the mental midget that thought GA would win if they only had 3 more minutes...how stupid..GA had the same amount of time to play the game as WV and they LOST...to a Big East Team. Rather than bash the Big East take a look at the mighty acc and their representative in the Orange Bowl..they were 8-5..the other conferences should be outraged that an 8-5 acc team is allowed in a BCS game. In the next two years WV will play Auburn, Michigan State in addition to the BCS bowl games. By then the non conf schedules for BE teams will kick in and then maybe we can talk about Football instead of bashing the Big East.
There was a post above about TV draw. I'd like everyone know that Rutgers has 4 ESPN games, 1 ABC game, 1 CSTV gave and 2 Madison Square Garden (MSG) game this year. I don't know what rating share the national games will bring in but you can be sure that a 1% share in the NY/NJ area will have quite a few eyes glued to the games.(approx 150,000)
In the short-term the Big East one of the weaker BCS conferences. Although, I believe that the conference is universally underrated. This is the reason that the Big East bowl tie-ins are terrible. However, while some stated that the conference "suits" are money-grubbing individuals, we all know that the device that drives football, even more than bowl tie-ins is television revenue. TV executives are perhaps the biggest whores of all and will always go with a short-term fix. Once the Big East gets better they will come back around, like they are Mike Trahase's best friend.
Furter, in recognition of the fact that many now recognize college football for what it is, i.e. a business. College football should be analyzed like one. It goes without saying that in many respects football recruiting is a regional market, because of the large number of players that you need on a team (as opposed to basketball, where you only really need to obtain 1 or 2 good players to be successful due to the small number of players on the court at the same time). Similarly, everyone knows that marquee players are what drives interest in a team. On that basis, you have to ask yourself who has the long-term advantage. If you look at all the BCS conferences, they are set out with one BCS conference for each region of the country, except for in the South where the ACC competes with the SEC. While I recognize that Florida produces a large amount of football talent, you have to ask whether on a recruiting basis the ACC will be able to compete with the SEC for players. Personally, I don't think that they will be able to do so over the long term. There is nowhere else to go for recruits within the Big East's footprint who want to attend a school close to home (with a couple of exceptions like Penn State or BC who are out of place geographically, and who can only take so many recruits). While some players will be plucked every year by other conferences, the majority of them will stay in Big East territory. Some will turn out to be stars and that will reenergize the Big East.
I know that some may doubt this theory, but those are the same people who during the 1980's would have ridiculed Addias and stated that Reebok is the best thing since sliced bread. We all know what happened in the past year with that, as Addidas just bought Reebok. Sometimes an entity may take a hit, but what really matters is whether a competitive advantage is sustainable.
It has nothing to do with being "deserving." Bowls and the cities that host them are in the business to make money selling tickets and filling hotels and restaurants, and they don't want Big East teams because outside of WVU and Louisville, Big East schools historically have lousy traveling fan support. And if their own fans won't travel to see Pitt, Syracuse, or South Florida play in a bowl game, why should anyone who hosts a bowl want to get stuck with one of those schools? News flash though - BC fans can't find their way out of Boston any better in the ACC than they could as members of the Big East, and Miami fans have always figured they should never have to go beyond Coral Gables - Ask the Peach Bowl sponsors.
This has nothing do do with the BE reputation and everything to do with geography. If the bowls were located in te northeast, then the BE would be the league the bowls fight over. Another stupid article that overlooks the obvious.
Who cares what some cat from some middle of nowhere SEC school or some naive farmer from the Midwest (yeah, I’m talking about you Penn State fans) thinks about the strength of the Big East or whether or not it merits BCS status?
I mean just look at threads like this one and it is pretty clear that few if any of you have even the slightest idea what you are talking but that has not stopped you from showing off your idiocy.
Guys, wake up.
This system has never been about fairness and it never will be. It was designed in the first place for the express purpose to create a caste system, thereby maximizing the profits of the leagues that belonged to the cartel.
As for everyone else? Well, they were just collateral damage in this whole deal and business is business and blah, blah, blah.
It was utterly obscene that the NCAA/CFA allowed it to happen in the first place as it seems to be a direct slap in the face of the NCAA's purported "mission." However it is completely OUTRAGEOUS to me that all of the same people that were justifying the system with the old, "It's nothing personal, it’s just business," are now the ones leading the about "the unfairness of it all" as it pertains to the Big East.
The bottom line is that as long as the Big East is located in the most heavily populated region of the country it will remain a valuable entity to the BCS and therefore a member of it. Frankly, I could care less whose feelings that hurts and that’s not going to change no matter how many times some Big Ten and/or Notre Dame fan jumps up and down screaming like a school girl that just dropped her ice cream cone.
I'm definitely a playoff guy because that would end once and for all a whole lot of the NONSENSE emanating from fans of these other leagues who are absolutely convinced that their perennial also ran in the (fill-in-the-blank conference) would be 12-0 in the Big East and may not even be scored upon.
After all, the Big East is weaker than their high school team's league and their favorite team's conference is the best in the nation and better than at least three NFL divisions.
I like those from other conferences talking smack "especially those in the ACC" who did nothing in bowl games last year "unless you count on BC win in the blue field bowl". The Big East will be fine with two top 10 teams in Louisville and West Virginia all will be well.
Many of you people make me sick. Even with the 3 defectors, you people had bad things to say about the Big East year after year... you would call the Big East "Top Heavy".. and year after year Miami and VTech would smack around other BCS conference powers and then see their closest games.. and losses come in league play. Big Media has longstanding deals withteh other conferences. They have a big investment in them. ANd now with all teh cross-ownership of publishing houses and television it is more and more the case of the media pundits are hawking their companies products. If that means pumping up the pre-season rankings of their conference powers.. they will do so.
Of the 5 names he mentioned, three of them came from schools no longer in the Big Least Portis, Vick, Hasselback and the other was more than 5 years ago, McNabb. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the Big East
Also he seems to forget to list a couple of pretty Great MWC runners L. Tomlinson, M Faulk.. Putz...
>>A UWV fan was commenting on their upcoming year. He said our "big" game would be against.....Cincinnati! Can you imagine an SEC or Big Ten team saying that? Of course UVW will be undefeated, so what. I got nothing against the Mountaineers, but, they can't be national Champs with that schedule. Fl. Tn. UM, FL St., mich, ohio st would all be undefeated with that schedule.<<
First of all, you must not be much of a college football fan yourself. It's WVU, not UWV or UVW (not sure where you got that one genius). Second, the thought that ANY WVU would call Cincy our "big" game is just plain stupid and probably made up on your part. Louisville is our big game with Pitt being our traditional rival.
Another person posted:
>>The Georgia game was one game for god's sake. UGA had just come off playing a big game in the SEC Champ game. Certainly not motivated to play UWV or WVU (who cares which). WVU scores 28 pts in the 1st QTR and then "hangs on". I believe they had to fake a punt to keep UGA from getting the ball back. If the game had lasted 3 more minutes, UGA would have won by 10 points!<<
Ah,if only every game lasted "3 more minutes". Who cares if WVU put up 28 in the first quarter or over the course of the game? When the clock hit zero, WVU had more points and beat the long time SEC powehouse in a BCS bowl game. Everyone is so fast to play this off as just "one game".
>>Until they beat quality team's during the regular season (i.e. NOT Cinci, Pitt, UConn, Syracuse, South Florida and Rutgers) they shouldn't play in quality bowl's after the season. As it's setup now, the Big East produces an "all-or-nothing" mentality amongst it's elite. Lousiville must beat WVU to go to the BCS and WVU could get away with losing to Louisville and beating Miami (FL) to get an at-large bid. It seems fair to me: no risk, no reward.<<
WVU grad of '02 and Utah grad of '06 is a joke when he lists "Marce Bulger (sic), Donovan McNabb, Micheal Vick (sic), Clinton Portis, Hasselbeck, etc.. all came from the Big East." and then when it comes to the MWC, all he can remember is a couple Utah players "...Jordan Gross, Alex Smith, and who?"
Duh, how about Brian Urlacher (New Mexico) John Tait (BYU) Marshall Faulk (San Diego State) LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU) Joey Porter (Colorado State) Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (SDSU) and Steve Smith (Utah) to name just a few?
Sorry to interject reason into a perfectly impassioned debate, but look at reality here. As long as the Big East averages a final BCS ranking of 12 or better over the next four years, they aren't losing their automatic bid. With WVU likely finishing in the top 4 (someone has to lose between ND and USC, at a minimum), that makes it almost certain that the Big East will be around for years to come. To those like the MWC, MAC, WAC, and C-USA, put together four years with a team from your conference like the year that Utah put together, and you will get a seat at the table. For the major conferences (SEC, ACC, etc.), schedule Big East interconference games and beat them so Big East teams don't qualify for the automatic bid in four years. Yelling at the mysterious "they" doesn't mean anything when a system is in place to decide an automatic bid on the field.