Big East still OK, interim boss says

Updated: July 9, 2012, 4:18 PM ET
By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com

Big East interim commissioner Joe Bailey told ESPN.com on Friday he has no concerns about his league getting into high-level bowl games or the future four-team playoff despite access questions that have cropped up this week.

The recent news that the ACC has renewed its partnership with the Discover Orange Bowl means the Big East remains the only conference among the current top six without a tie-in to one of the high-level bowl games when the new system begins in 2014.

As it stands, the Big East gains automatic entry into the BCS as an at-large team.

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.

-- Big East interim commissioner
Joe Bailey

No such guarantee would exist for the league after the BCS expires, unless it is able to wrangle a tie-in to one of the elite games.

The new system will feature six top-tier games and a selection committee that chooses teams for the playoffs and those bowl games.

"This conference, because of its record over the past six years or so, really plays very good football, and if it's based on meritocracy, then we will be able to do as well as anybody else," Bailey said.

"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."

The Big East champion has finished in the top 12 of the final BCS standings five times in the last seven years. The ACC, in contrast, has had two only conference champions finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings over the same time period.

But Boise State, which is set to join the Big East in 2013, has five top-10 finishes in the BCS over the last seven years alone.

"The best way to say this is that most schools and then most conferences have peaks and valleys," Bailey said. "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 four also."

Bailey could not say whether the Big East would eventually end up with a tie-in.

"Right now, we're more focused on where we stand in terms of the topic of access and revenue distribution," he said. "I'm not in a position to tell you what's going to happen in the future in relation to other bowls. The selection of those bowls themselves hasn't been determined yet."

As for whether the future system is fair to the Big East without a tie-in, Bailey mentioned his past as an NFL executive in the NFC East, a division that typically features high-quality teams. Some years, he said, a good team from that division may be left out of the playoffs.

"Sometimes it doesn't work perfectly and you have to live with those things, fair unfair, deserved, undeserved, that's kind of the rub of the green," Bailey said. "Sometimes it's going to happen, whether it's to the Big East or someone else."

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