The Big East's decision to move west could hurt when it comes to bowl affiliations (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The Big East, already reeling with the losses of Pitt, West Virginia, and Syracuse, probably has bigger things to worry about right now other than bowl affiliations. Still, there's word they are interested in reaching deals with more western bowl games.
Specifically, the Poinsettia Bowl in California is showing some interest. But the Big East will likely be competing with a non-BCS conference for even that bowl game - the Mountain West.
While the Poinsettia Bowl is interested, the Mountain West still has appeal:
"We will certainly be interested in a match-up with the Big East (western teams) if we can pull it off," said Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the Poinsettia Bowl. "But we’re still not sure who the Big East-west is going to be. The Mountain West still would have appeal to us because fans can travel from places in the West to San Diego in December."
This may seem like only a footnote, but it's a pretty important development to watch.
The Big East is trying to remain relevant partially by expanding farther west. To help with that, they're naturally trying to find bowl ties out west to which, presumably, anyway, teams in that part of the country would travel. But even a relatively minor bowl is still not sold on the Big East. Getting Boise State would be fine for almost anyone, but if they ended up with the likes of a 6-6 UConn or Rutgers team 3,000 miles away ...
While the Mountain West no longer has the heavy hitters such as Boise and TCU, they still may have a leg up on the Big East when it comes to securing bowl deals out west simply because of proximity. While a team like Cincinnati may have significantly more prestige than Mountain West teams, how many fans will realistically travel across the country to see them square off against what is likely not a major foe? Bowls bring in much of their revenue from ticket sales and relies at least a bit on fans of schools traveling.
Like almost anything else, this disaster can be fixed, though.
The Big East can give the bowls first right of refusal when it comes to selecting teams. This already happens, so it's not a huge deal. But here's the thing - if you're the Big East, do you want one of your better teams being passed over for a 6-6 squad simply because they're in the west? Again, this already happens in college football when it comes to bowls, but it is something to consider.
An interesting scenario could be the Big East designating certain teams to certain bowls geographically to ensure bowls get fairly local teams.
And, by the way - this thing can work the other way, too. While eastern bowl games would take a strong Boise State in a heartbeat, how thrilled would they be with the prospect of ending up with San Diego State in a down year? The conference might be hurt when it comes to eastern bowl slots as well when it comes to trying to find dance partners.
The conference's strange new relationships with western schools definitely will help to expand their reach. As expansion in college football continues, this will become more of an issue with other conferences moving out of their geographic comfort zone as well. But for a conference like the Big East that is already behind the 8-ball, this could hurt them significantly.