Conference ducks BCS 'doomsday clock'

Is the Big East still a major football conference?

It's looking that way, reports the Boston Globe citing Bowl Championship Series sources.

Doing some major politicking with its BCS partners, the Big East made its automatic bid in the BCS more secure in the last month.

The Big East shored up its automatic BCS bid after convincing BCS representatives to consider the strengths of incoming Big East members Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida and to disregard outgoing members Boston College and Temple.

A conference can lose its automatic bid for not averaging a top-12 finish for its champion over a four-year span according to BCS regulations.

This year's Big East champion, Pittsburgh, is No. 21 in the BCS rankings. That would have started the "doomsday clock" on the league's need to average a top-12 finish.

But Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP) is 10th in the BCS, so the Big East keeps a run of top-10 finishes going back to 1999 when Virginia Tech, now a member of the ACC, finished second.

Although the criteria for automatic bids will change beginning with the new BCS contract in 2006, the inclusion of Louisville this season gives the Big East a more secure spot in the rankings.