- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Much of the talk this week has centered on the ACC renewing its partnership with the Orange Bowl and what that means for the Big East.
As it stands today, the Big East is the only one of the top tier conferences without a bowl tie-in moving forward into the future four-team playoff/six elite-bowl game format for the 2014 season. While that has given some cause for concern when it comes to access, interim commissioner Joe Bailey said in an interview Friday that he had no concerns about the Big East's place in the postseason come 2014.
Here is what he had to say.
How can you guarantee a Big East team will get into one of the six elite bowl games without an automatic tie-in?
JB: No. 1, the decision was made to create a selection committee, so whoever will be on that selection committee will no longer watch teams once or twice a year. They will be focused on these teams constantly. The measure of competency of teams, in my opinion, will be much more accurate and it will be based on meritocracy, not necessarily AQ, or IQ or EQ. That is all you can really hope for. The second piece is that there has been an additional bowl that has been added. That opens up two more slots. This is a conference that really plays very good football, and if it's based on meritocracy, then we will be able to do as well as anybody else. That's No. 1.
This relationship with the bowls that other conferences have, they've always had them. We've always felt that at the end of the day, even though there was AQ status, you wanted to play well and earn your way into a bowl, and not necessarily be anointed. Based on the meritocracy, we feel pretty good that quite a number of teams based on our historical performance level will mean the conference will be absolutely fine. I prefer to judge our ability to play and perform and compete based on meritocracy [not] based on some sort of anointment.
Let’s go on meritocracy, then. The Big East has outperformed the ACC over the past seven years when it comes to teams finishing in the Top 12 of the final BCS standings. Yet it is the ACC that has an automatic tie-in to the Orange Bowl, while the Big East has no tie-in right now.
JB: The best way to say this is that most schools and then most conferences have peaks and valleys. Sometimes you perform well over a period of time, and other times you go down a little bit. Not too many schools and/or conferences are at the top for a very long period of time. I'm just not good enough at looking at a crystal ball to predict how well the ACC is going to do. All we can be conscious about is how the Big East competes, and how many quality programs we've got, and focus just on that, and let the other things happen, and those are things right now that are out of our control. All we can do is bank on the notion that the schools that are in the Big East are going to perform quite well and earn their way into not only (the elite bowl games) but into the Top 4 also.”
Right now, it appears the Big East must be held to a higher standard: finish in the Top 12 or risk getting left out. Other conferences could have an unranked conference champion and still get into a high-level bowl game.
JB: We do know it was made perfectly clear that winning your conference was going to be awfully important in terms of determining where you're going to go. Whether we would love to say all the winners would get in or not … all we're really doing is guessing how it's going to work, and from our perspective, clearly we're going to have a voice in all of that as we continue to discuss this stuff. There's going to be a series of future meetings.
Can you say right now whether the Big East will end up with a tie-in to one of the six elite bowl games?
JB: We have to first figure out what the other bowl games are, and then we'll cross that bridge once that is determined. Right now, we’re more focused on where we stand in terms of the topic of access and revenue distribution. I’m not in a position to tell you what's going to happen in the future with relation to other bowls.
We were told automatic qualifying designation was going away in the future postseason system, but five conferences now have automatic tie-ins to the elite bowl games. What is the Big East's response to that?
JB: The issue is these things have been in existence for a long time, so they fall outside the purview of this group, so you have to live with them, because they're special contracts that have been created over a period of time. The new ones obviously are a little bit different, so we'll have to wrestle our way through it. With another bowl, and the quality of play we've had, it gives us a greater chance of getting into one of these bowls.
So you are not concerned about access?
JB: That is correct.
Even without a tie-in?
I have touched a lot on the ACC compared to the Big East this week. How is the future system going to be fair, given these tie-ins?
JB: There is a sense that there's a rub of the green. Sometimes, it doesn't work perfectly and you have to live with those things, fair, unfair, deserved, undeserved, that's kinda the rub of the green. Sometimes, it's going to happen, whether it’s to the Big East or someone else.