The Big East is rapidly losing every vestige of major conference status. Postseason options following the 2014 shakeup could look bleak. The Big Ten and Pac 12 will keep their traditional bowl arrangement with the Rose Bowl. The SEC and Big 12 are forming the Champions Bowl. The ACC Is setting up an arrangement with the Orange Bowl and Notre Dame. Without an anchor game and subject to the free market without AQ status, the Big East champ could fall hard.
Besides West Virginia in the Orange Bowl, the highest rated bowl game involving a Big East team was the Belk Bowl, which finished 18th. That was lower than the UCLA vs. Illinois Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. Assuming the trend toward second and third-tier bowls locking down major conference cast-offs continues, the Belk or the Pinstripe Bowl could be where the Big East champion ends up. Not exactly what Boise State and others projected.
A Big East team could always play its way into a big bowl. The conference has not had a team finish in the Top 20 in the BCS regular season standings the past two seasons. Cincinnati, still in the conference, would have made a four-team playoff in 2009. Louisville, still in the conference, would have had a compelling case to make it in 2006.
Boise State, if Chris Petersen stays, should be a consistent contender for at least the Top 15. That said, we saw how diplomatic BCS officials were with a school such as Boise State when they weren’t obligated to pick them in 2010 and 2011. The post-2014 system should lead to even more “Michigan vs. Virginia Tech” type games in the non-playoff bowls.
The depressing part for the Big East is there’s not much that could have been done to avoid this. The conference did not even have enough clout to secure a percentage of the playoff revenue before agreeing to it.
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