With the news that the Champs Sports Bowl was on hand to check out the Pitt-Cincinnati game, does that mean there's a chance a Big East team could play in the game (assuming they reach bowl-eligible status, of course)?
Don't hold your breath.
Jerry DiPaola of the Trib says that a Champs Sports Bowl representative was in town for the big game Saturday night. I've got to think they were there to mostly check out the Bearcats in the event of a loss. Even with a win, Pitt would still only be a 5-4 team - hardly desirable for what is a bowl considered one of the better ones outside of the BCS. In retrospect, Pitt really had no shot to play in the game. If they had won the Bearcats contest and won out, they'd be 8-4 and in the BCS. If they won that game, but lost down the road, a 7-5 Pitt team likely wouldn't have cut it, anyway.
Technically, Pitt could actually be selected at 7-5. Likely? Not at all.
The bowl has a tie-in with Notre Dame and gets to select them once in the duration of the four-year contract that started last season when West Virginia was selected. Notre Dame is 6-3 and while the selection committee could decide to choose a Big East team if the Irish stumble, it's unlikely one would be chosen barring a total collapse by Notre Dame.
Even the Champs Sports Bowl's Twitter feed seems to think that if Notre Dame keeps winning, they'd be tough to ignore:
Now, if Notre Dame (who just beat Wake) is 9-3, and best available BE team is 8-4, it would be hard to overlook the Irish.
Say the Irish did falter, though - could a second place Pitt team go to the Bowl? The committee doesn't have to take the second place Big East team, so even if Pitt achieved that, it's no lock they would be selected. Bowls generally don't like repeat teams, but West Virginia is always a strong draw and if they can win some games down the stretch, would have to be a candidate (even after playing in the game in 2010).
To me, Notre Dame is the fit. They have to be within two games of the first available Big East team and barring a Pitt-esqe Iowa game collapse, they should be. It's true that the committee could still bypass an eligible Irish team if they want to pin their hopes on a better Notre Dame squad in the final two years of the contract, but that'd be playing with fire. If Notre Dame happened to fall of the face of the earth or become so good that they reached the BCS in the the next two years, the bowl committee would have egg on its face if they never selected them over that four-year span.
Hard not to imagine the Irish taking that spot this season.