November 13, 2012
CHICAGO - BIG EAST Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco, emphasizing his conference's national scope, announced that East and West divisions of six teams each in football will begin play in the 2013 season, culminating in a new BIG EAST Championship Game. SMU will compete in the BIG EAST's West Division.
The East Division will be comprised of UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and USF, while the West Division will be made up of Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and Temple.
"We are very excited about the new BIG EAST divisional format," said SMU A.D. Rick Hart. "SMU will be able to maintain its current rivalries with Houston and Memphis, while adding three new programs to our schedule, including a perennial power and former conference mate - Boise State. We're looking forward to this new challenge."
"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," said Aresco.
The BIG EAST Football Championship Game will be played between the East and West champions at the home field of one of the participating teams, not at a neutral site, promising an exciting fan experience.
"This unique combination of nationwide scope and regional flavor reflects our commitment to innovation in response to the changing landscape in college football," Aresco said, "while honoring a tradition of success on the field and in the classroom."
Aresco continued: "Combined with the extension through 2026 of our historic relationship with Madison Square Garden for the BIG EAST Basketball Championship, the new BIG EAST Football Championship Game will provide two signature events of national significance in college sports."
Aresco noted that this alignment will likely be revisited after the 2014 season, when the U.S. Naval Academy and possibly other schools begin play in the BIG EAST.
In this new structure, each team will play eight Conference games per season, of which five will be against divisional rivals. The home and away opponents for each school will be announced after the BIG EAST athletic directors' annual meeting in New York on Dec. 3.