One of the biggest unknowns about the Big East moving forward is whether or not it will be able to retain its automatic qualifying status. The last time I reached out to BCS executive director Bill Hancock, he said it was too early to say what would happen.
So I reached out to ESPN BCS guru Brad Edwards for his take on what the future holds for the Big East as an automatic qualifying conference. Keep in mind that the Big East will retain its automatic bid through this cycle, which ends after the 2013 season. So there is no danger for the next two years.
In the current structure, there are certain criteria that conferences have to meet if they want to become automatic qualifiers going forward. Conferences like the Mountain West are subject to meeting this criteria if they want an AQ spot in 2012 and 2013. Negotiations for the next BCS contract, to begin in 2014, will start next year. One of the first things that will be taken into account is the makeup of the Big East.
If all 11 conferences are held to the the three criteria to get an automatic bid, Edwards believes the Big East would fall short no matter the teams that are added. In its current configuration, the Big East meets one of the standards -- the cumulative ranking of all the teams in the conference. It falls short in the other two -- average ranking of the highest-ranked team each year; and the number of teams ranked in the Top 25.
Edwards believes that outside of Boise State, there are no teams available that would boost the Big East numbers in the two criteria where it falls short. Boise State alone would not be enough. What the Big East needs are Top-25 teams. But the likelihood of getting Top-25 teams outside of Boise is remote. Air Force, Navy, UCF and Temple would allow the Big East to continue to meet the one criteria it already holds. But they do not have consistent Top-25 rankings.
Also remember, there is nothing specifically spelled out about how a conference would be subject to losing its AQ status.
I hope that helps clear up some questions. The bottom line is there will be no answer until next fall at the earliest.