The conference revealed its divisional alignment Tuesday for the 2013 football season, when it becomes a 12-team league. The announcement came after the Big East presidents approved the plan at a meeting in Chicago.
The East will have Central Florida, South Florida, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers. The West will have Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and Temple.
Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said the goal was to keep natural rivals such as Louisville and Cincinnati together and make it as simple as possible for fans to know which teams are in which division.
“I like the East-West,” Aresco said in a telephone interview. “I like the clarity of the divisions. I like the identifiability. Some conferences, it’s hard to know who is in what division.”
Navy will join the Big East for football only in 2015, and the conference plans to add another football member to reach 14.
Commissioner Mike Aresco indicated that division alignment would be readdressed after 2014.
“Despite the fact that Temple will be in the West Division during the 2013 and 2014 football seasons, we will have every opportunity to play institutions from the East Division and be eligible for the first Big East championship game,” Temple athletic director Bill Bradshaw said in a statement.
“Beginning with the 2015 football season, there will be two seven-team divisions with the addition of Navy and another football school (to be announced later) with every indication that division alignment will be reconstructed.”
Aresco said the conference will do everything it can to ease travel burden for the Owls.
“We will draft a schedule that will minimize travel,” he said.
The first Big East championship game will be played at the home field of one of the participating teams on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.
Aresco said the conference has yet to decide how it will determine which division winner will host the championship game. The typical way is to give it to the team with the best conference record, but he said having overall records and/or rankings involved in some way is still a possibility.
On Monday, the Big East got good news when the commissioners of the major football conferences agreed to reserve a spot in the new postseason system for the highest ranked team from a group of five conferences that includes the Big East.
The Big East will have to compete against the Mountain West, Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA for a bid in one of three marquee bowls. It’s not as good as its current setup — the Big East has an automatic bid in the BCS — but it’s better than being left out.
“We’re a re-invented conference. This gives us an opportunity to elevate our conference and elevate our brand,” Aresco said. “This is all about having the opportunity to show we are one of the power conferences.”
The Big East is currently seeking a new television deal and it is on the open market, after an exclusive negotiating period with ESPN ended without a deal being struck. Aresco wouldn’t speculate on when a new deal could be done.
“We feel we’re in the early innings still,” Aresco said. “You just don’t know with negotiations.”