We've all debated just how long Pitt and Syracuse might remain in the Big East. One big reason might be to retain enough teams until the conference decides if it can stay alive and add new programs.
But there's another reason as well. The longer Pitt and Syracuse remain, the better chance the Big East might have at extending its BCS automatic qualifier status.ESPN.com provided some insight this week with an interview with the BCS' Executive Director Bill Hancock. We all know that the Big East has its AQ status through 2013, but after that, it's anybody's guess. In order for the Big East get another contract for 2014 - 2017, their performance (along with that of other conferences) from the current period, 2010 - 2013, will be under review.
Simply put, if it's believed Pitt and Syracuse could do well over the next few seasons, the Big East may be better served by keeping them and allowing those performances to count in their ratings.
Now, does this make sense? Of course not. The Big East shouldn't be able to use Pitt and Syracuse's performances in past years to secure future credit when they're not even going to be around. You'd think that with all of the conference movement that has taken place (and is still expected to take place) that the BCS will put certain safeguards in place to avoid a scenario such as that from happening. Non-AQ conferences obviously shouldn't be happy about losing out on a potential bid to the Big East when part of the selection criteria used to determine said bid included results from teams no longer in the conference.
But in a nutshell, this sounds like it could be a reason for the Big East to force Pitt and Syracuse to stick it out.
To be honest, while this irked me previously, I really wouldn't have a problem with sticking around. Sure it would hamper things such as recruiting, but I'd like to see Pitt go to BCS bowl games. I don't particularly care where that happens and let's be honest - Pitt stands a better chance in the Big East, anyway. I've got no problem staying in the Big East for a couple of more seasons.
Games against North Carolina and Duke at the Pete will be incredible, but they can wait.