Big East approves 2-division format

Updated: November 14, 2012, 8:23 AM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN.com

The presidents of Big East schools approved a two-division format Tuesday for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

For the purposes of football, the conference will be divided into a western division of Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and Temple, and an eastern division of Central Florida, Cincinnati, UConn, Louisville, Rutgers and South Florida.

All of the schools were pretty clear-cut as to which belonged in the western or eastern division, except Temple, which was placed in the western division.

"This aligment gives the conference and its fans the best of both worlds -- national exposure that is a result of the Big East being in six of the top 10 media markets -- with a schedule that focuses on spirited regional rivalries," Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said.

The Big East championship game, starting in 2013, will played between the East and West champions at the homefield of one of participating teams.

Earlier reports called for the divisions to be called Red and Blue, instead of being named geographically, sources said, but that proved to not be the case.

These divisions will be used for the Big East only when it's a 12-team league in 2013 and 2014 because, sources said, they create clear identities for the divisions, preserve rivalries and create new ones, and minimize travel.

Conference and school officials were also expected to discuss how the league's schedule -- five games against division opponents and three crossover games -- might look in 2013 and 2014.

These divisions could change drastically when the Big East grows to 14 teams in 2015 when the league adds Navy and another school yet to be determined.

Sources told ESPN in September that the league would prefer another team from the West as its 14th member, most likely BYU or Air Force.

League officials already have discussed how to split the divisions when the Big East grows to 14 teams. Sources said the most popular 14-team model would then be Red and Blue divisions that are nongeographic.

The proposed Red Division in 2015 would consist of Louisville, UConn, Memphis, Navy, San Diego State, USF and SMU, while the Blue Division would consist of Boise State, Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, Rutgers, Temple and the 14th team.

Each team would play six games within its division and two games against the other division, including one permanent cross-division game. The annual cross-division games would be Cincinnati-Louisville, UConn-Rutgers, Boise State-San Diego State, Houston-SMU, Navy-Temple, UCF-USF and Memphis versus the 14th team.

Those division lineups could be tweaked to appease the Big East's future TV partners and increase the worth of the media rights deal.

ESPN's exclusive window to renegotiate with the Big East recently expired, allowing the league to go to the open market in hopes of securing the most lucrative media rights deal. Besides ESPN, the Big East also has had interest from NBC and Fox, sources said.

The Big East's presidents and league officials met Tuesday in Rosemont, Ill.

Brett McMurphy | email

College football reporter