My colleague, Joe Schad, is reporting that the Big 12 has told West Virginia it will be accepted into the conference pending formal approval, which could happen very soon.
While Texas A&M and TCU, which recently announced conference moves, will join their new conferences for the 2012 season, Schad notes the Big East could try to keep WVU, along with Pitt and Syracuse, in the conference for up to 27 months, per conference guidelines.
Why would the Big East play hardball with its defectors? Because more than $20 million per year is at stake given the Big East's automatic-BCS-qualifying status.
For the 2011-12 school year, BCS conferences will receive $22.3 million for their qualifying team and can earn another $6.1 million if another member receives an at-large berth. A non-automatic-qualifying conference team selected for a BCS game receives $26.4 million but must divide that revenue with the other four non-automatic-qualifying conferences.
If the Big East were to lose Pitt, Syracuse and West Virginia at the end of this school year, it could jeopardize the Big East’s BCS status. Here’s how it works:
Current BCS conferences were determined based on data from the 2004-07 football seasons. Data from the 2008-11 seasons will be reviewed following this season to determine if a seventh conference makes the cut to be an automatic-qualifier for the 2012 and 2013 BCS bowl seasons. In addition to that review, each current BCS conference is reviewed for annual qualification.
This is where it gets dicey for conferences losing teams.
Three sets of data are considered in the annual review: First, the average ranking of the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings over the four-year period; second, the average rank of all the conference’s teams based on rankings from each of the six BCS computers over the four-year period; and third, something called a conference’s Adjusted Top 25 Performance -- a calculation based on a conference’s number of teams in the Top 25 of BCS standings over the four-year period as a percentage of the top conference in this calculation, which would have been rated 100 percent.
The threshold for annual qualification requires each conference to be in the top six in the first two sets of data and in the top 50 percent in the third set of data. However, a waiver can be obtained from the BCS’ Presidential Oversight Committee if a conference is in the top six of the first two sets of data and top 33 percent of the third set, or top five of one of the first two sets and top seven in the other, along with top 33 percent of the third set.
When asked how conference realignment might affect these reviews, Maxey Parrish of the BCS said: “Since it's impossible to determine how a team would have played had they been a member of another conference, the rankings count for the conference schools [which] were members of [the conference] at that time. For example, TCU is not factored into the Big 12's status as an AQ until the 2012 season.”
What happens if a conference doesn’t meet the annual threshold? “Then there is the potential for them to be taken off the list of AQ conferences,” Parrish said. However, Big East Associate Commissioner John Paquette said the conference's BCS status is guaranteed through the 2013 season.
The Big East's 27-month waiting period for members exiting ensures the conference will have suitable time to find a replacement and that current members will be included in automatic-qualifying calculations following the 2013 season, which is when new BCS agreements would have to be put into place following the expiration of current ones.