According to Mark Blaudschun on his website, the Big East and new commissioner Mike Aresco are about to get a lifeline thrown their way by the other BCS conference commissioners. According to his report posted this afternoon, the new postseason format will feature seven games, not six, and will potentially guarantee a spot for the Big East champion. He writes:
A 7th bowl will be part of the group, offering a guaranteed spot to the highest ranked team available.
While there will be guaranteed spots for the conference champions from the ACC, Big 12, SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten, the other conferences, including the Big East, will also have a guaranteed slot for the highest ranked team from that group.
This is about the best news that the Big East could receive. While conference realignment has been damaging to both Big East football and basketball, it has been far more damaging to the other conferences that the Big East will be competing against for the guaranteed spot in the postseason. The Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt, and MAC have all been raided of their best teams. In most years, it will be almost guaranteed that the Big East champion, be it Louisville, Boise State, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Central Florida, Houston, or South Florida, will finish ranked higher than the potential champions of those leagues.
It's good for the Big East to be able to earn its way in and also to not be rewarded when its champion is possibly a mediocre team. I know that sounds crazy, but there's a tremendous amount of negativity when a team like 2010 UConn goes to the Fiesta Bowl. So much so, that it might be better for the league to not have a team in one of the major bowls in years where the entire league is only slightly above average. Avoiding the backlash of having an undeserved guarantee will be the job of the ACC from now on. If a Big East team makes it, they will have met objective criteria for having done so.
This is great news for a league that hasn't received much in the past two years. To be fair, it's also great news for the other conferences which do occasionally have Cinderella-type team (like this year's Ohio team, perhaps) who deserve an opportunity at a guaranteed spot as much as anyone from the new Big East will on an annual basis.