Colleague Brad Edwards had an interesting story today about how the Mountain West has performed well enough in the first two years of the current BCS qualification cycle to be eligible for an automatic bid in 2012 if it keeps this pace.
If that were to happen, that doesn't mean another conference, like the Big East, would lose its automatic bid. The system is set up to accommodate as many as seven conferences.
What I found more interesting in the story, from a Big East perspective, are the numbers Edwards presented from all the conferences. The BCS has three main criteria for selecting auto-bid conferences, though how much each one is weighed and what other factors determine that are not made public. The three are: final BCS ranking of the league's highest-ranked team; number of Top 25 teams in the final BCS standings; and final regular-season rankings of every team in the league by the six BCS computers.
When you break those numbers down, there are some interesting findings.
The Big East ranks fifth among conferences in terms of its average highest-ranked team in the final BCS standings. Thank Cincinnati for climbing to No. 3 this year to boost that mark. While ranking fifth is nothing to brag about, it's higher than the Big Ten (seventh) or ACC (eighth).
Average number of total teams in the final BCS Top 25 is not a selling point for the Big East, which checks in at seventh with 2.5. But don't forget that the league has only eight teams. That means more than a quarter of the league's teams has finished in the Top 25, which, again, is more than the ACC can say.
Where the Big East really shines is in the conference average computer rankings. The league ranks third there, behind just the SEC and ACC and ahead of the Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten.
People want to knock the Big East's auto-bid status. But as these numbers indicate, the league is pulling its weight. And in some ways, it's doing better than the ACC and Big Ten.