|When Boise State and San Diego State next meet on the blue turf, it will likely be in a Big East regular season game. Both were placed in the West Division when the conference announced divisional alignments Tuesday. (US Presswire)|
Facing the difficult challenge of maintaining competitive balance and geographic equality in its revamped conference, the Big East announced the formation of two six-team divisions Tuesday for the next two football seasons.
The top three teams in the standings -- Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati -- will remain together in the East Division. They will be joined by South Florida, Connecticut and Central Florida. Five newcomers -- Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State and SMU -- will be placed in the West Division. Temple, which re-joined the Big East at the start of the 2012 season, is the only current member that will be placed in the West Division.
“This new alignment 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 U.S. media markets -- with a schedule that focuses on spirited regional rivalries,” Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement.
Big East teams will play an eight-game conference schedule in 2012-2013. Each team will face all five divisional opponents, as well as three teams from the other division in crossover games. The Big East could announce all home and away games after the conference's annual athletic directors' meeting in New York on Dec. 3, a conference spokesman said.
The inaugural Big East Football Championship Game next season will pit the two division champions at the home field of one of the participating teams. Aresco indicated that the alignment would likely be revisited after the 2014-2015 season. Navy will join the Big East in football for the 2015-2016 season.
There has been speculation that Brigham Young could be the 14th school to join the Big East in football for the 2015-2016 campaign. Under the current alignment, it's possible that Navy could be placed in the East Division and BYU could be added to the West Division if it decides to join the conference. When Notre Dame announced a decision to leave the Big East in early September, a spokesman from the BYU athletic department said in a statement that the school “is pleased with its status as an independent football program.”
With the wide landscape in the restructured conference, travel issues could be a concern. The average round-trip flight for Memphis in a divisional game will be about 2,305 miles. Each time Temple flies to Boise or San Diego, the Owls will travel at least 4,800 miles.
“That was our agreement going in for the first two years, and I'm good with that," said Temple coach Steve Addazio on being placed in the West division. "That was part of the deal, and we're going to go in there and play on that side for two years and then that will change. Whether they still go East/West or they go Red/Blue, I'm not involved with all these meetings here, but for the beginning part of this thing, we will be on the western side. I'm excited to do that. I think that'll be good. We'll still have some of our regional games in here, and I think it's a great new beginning and I'm excited for it."
Some crossover games could be rare. If Boise State travels to Tampa to face USF, the Broncos will travel more than 5,200 miles. If the Aztecs play the Huskies in East Hartford, San Diego State could spend close to 14 hours traveling.
“This unique combination of nationwide scope and regional flavor reflect our commitment to innovation in response to the changing landscape in college football,” Aresco said.
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