BCSFootball.org) Buried in the official selection rules for the new BCS Agreement is rule #3. The rule states:As most college football fans are aware this season will be the first season played under the new BCS Agreement. This agreement changes several things, including giving more access to the "mid-major" conferences, and adding a 5th BCS bowl. (More details on the new agreement can be found at
3. The Division I-A conferences have developed standards for annual automatic qualification for conference champions after the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons. The standards are based on performance during the 2004-2007 college football regular seasons. Such standards, however, will not prohibit the champion of any conference that has contracted with a Bowl to play in any particular game from playing in one of the participating BCS bowls. For example, the Big Ten and Pac-10 champions will, by contract, play in the Rose Bowl every year unless one or both of those teams qualifies for the National Championship Game. The champions of selected conferences are contractually committed to host selected games, unless those champions qualify for the BCS National Championship Game, as follows: Atlantic Coast Conference — Orange Bowl Big Ten Conference — Rose Bowl Big 12 Conference — Fiesta Bowl Pac-10 Conference — Rose Bowl Southeastern Conference — Sugar Bowl (Source: Big East Media Guide Section 1: BCS Automatic Qualifications, page 3)So if you read the rule in its entirity, what it boils down to is this: After the January 2008 Bowls, the Big East and only the Big East can lose its status as an automatic qualifying conference. Rule 3 is just a long way of stating the way the 5 Main Players of the BCS agreement will kick the Big East out of the BCS. Because of their contractual ties to the BCS games, the other 5 conferences can never be removed from the BCS. So what's the big deal? If the Big East performs, they won't get the boot, no problem, right? Well its all about the equity in the deal. First the BCS has yet to release those standards they will use to measure the conferences right to be in the BCS, however, you can bet that it won't be anything that would give any of the currently excluded conferences a shot at automatic qualification. But secondly, the Big East (and all currently excluded conferences) are the only conferences that will be measured by this criterion. Ironically if you looked at the standings for the last four seasons and followed the old "Big East Rule" of the former BCS agreement. It is the ACC and not the Big East whose conference champion ranks last. It doesn't even matter if the Big East counts Pittsburgh (and not Louisville as the rules allow) for the 2004 season, the Big East conference champion over the last four years still has a higher average BCS rating then the ACC. Yet the Big East, which has proven through that current measure to not even be the "weakest" BCS conference is the only conference that must prove itself year in and year out to maintain its current status. That is what I have a problem with. So why would the BCS conferences want to get rid of one of their founding members. The answer is simple: MONEY. For all the talk about the inclusiveness of the new agreement, its actually all about keeping the "mid-majors" involvement as little as possible while trying to avoid a lawsuit. They can point to the current rules that say you can "earn" your conference or teams way into the BCS, but in truth the way the rules are set up are to maintain the status quo. In fact, the 5 Main BCS Players would like nothing more then for the Big East to lose its automatic qualification status and be dumped into the pool wtih the rest of the "mid-majors". That would guarentee at least one extra at large berth into the BCS bowls for one of the 5 Main Players. For all the hot air that has been spent about the inclusiveness of the new BCS agreement, Rule 3 makes it pretty clear its all about one thing, restricting guarenteed access to the 5 main players of the BCS, as soon as possible. By the 2008 season its possible, perhaps even likely that the staff here at inthebleachers.net will have to make a change and move our Big East Category down to join the "Non-BCS Conferences" group, regardless of whether or not the Big East is the weakest of the automatic qualifer conferences or not. That my friends, is wrong.