|Cincinnati Bearcats||Cincinnati, Ohio||Nippert Stadium|
|Connecticut Huskies||Storrs, Connecticut||Rentschler Field (in East Hartford, CT)|
|Louisville Cardinals||Louisville, Kentucky||Papa John's Cardinal Stadium|
|Pittsburgh Panthers||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Heinz Field|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||Piscataway, New Jersey||High Point Solutions Stadium|
|South Florida Bulls||Tampa, Florida||Raymond James Stadium|
|Syracuse Orange||Syracuse, New York||Carrier Dome|
|Temple Owls||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Lincoln Financial Field|
|2012 Average Football Attendance|
|Big East Conference Average||39,143|
Big East began football during the 1991-1992 season with the addition of Miami and was a founding member of the Bowl Championship Series. The league obtained immediate legitimacy with the addition of powerhouse Miami.
In the league's early years the University of Miami dominated, winning nine of the first thirteen championships and two national championships in 1991 and 2001. Virginia Tech also did well, winning the conference in 1995 and 1996 and earning a #2 national ranking in 1999. West Virginia and Syracuse were the only other teams to win conference titles during the league's original alignment.
The conference experienced a major reconstruction when Miami and Virginia Tech left for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004, followed by Boston College in 2005. Initially, Syracuse University was in place to make the jump instead of Virginia Tech, but in 2003, the governor of Virginia put pressure on the ACC to ensure that Virginia Tech was taken over Syracuse. Syracuse was left to remain in the Big East. Temple had joined the Big East for football in 1991, but found it difficult to compete with the other league teams. The conference was compelled to expel the Owls voluntarily in 2004 (after playing two seasons as an independent, Temple joined the MAC in 2007).
The universities that replaced them were Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati from Conference USA. The league also invited the University of Connecticut to play football a year earlier than planned.
At about this time, the BCS announced that it would adjust the automatic bids granted to its six founding conferences based on results from 2004–07, and that there would be five, six, or seven such bids starting in 2008. The obvious inference was that soon the Big East might lose its bid.
The conference’s fortunes improved in 2005. The three new teams from Conference USA began play that year, restoring the league to eight teams. West Virginia won the conference title, defeated SEC champion Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, and finished 11–1 and finished #5 in the AP poll. Newcomer Louisville also ranked in the Top 20.
Another former member for football only was Temple. Unlike other football only members in the past, they did not gain full membership in the Big East – due to objections from crosstown rivals Villanova (who do not play football in the Big East). After 14 seasons of mostly poor performance, Temple was kicked out of the conference following the 2004 season. They currently play football in the Mid-American Conference (for that sport only), and are the first school to leave a BCS conference to later join a non-BCS conference.
In 2006, West Virginia, Louisville, and Rutgers all entered November undefeated. However, they did not stay that way, as in a trio of exciting games over the next month, Louisville defeated West Virginia 44–34, Rutgers defeated Louisville 28–25, and West Virginia defeated Rutgers 41–39 in three overtimes. Rutgers’ resurgence after a century of mostly futile play was a national story,[who?] but Louisville won the conference title in the end. In bowl action, the Big East went 5–0, including an Orange Bowl victory for Louisville over Wake Forest and a win by West Virginia over Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Louisville would finish the season ranked 6th, West Virginia 10th, and Rutgers 12th in the final AP Poll.
In 2007, USF, rose to #2 in the BCS rankings. They lost their next three games, however, to drop out of the rankings. They eventually finished the season #21 in the final BCS polls. The Connecticut Huskies, getting as high as #13, and West Virginia remained in the top 25. Cincinnati also rose as high as #15 in the rankings eventually finishing the season with 10 wins and a #17 ranking. Connecticut lost subsequent games and dropped substantially in the rankings, ultimately finishing 25th. On the final day of the season, Pittsburgh upset #2 WVU 13–9 in the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl to give the Huskies a share of the conference championship, while WVU was stopped on the doorstep of the BCS National Championship Game. In bowl games, WVU upset the Big 12 Champion Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, despite having lost their highly touted coach, Rich Rodriguez to Michigan less than a month before the game. West Virginia finished the season ranked #6 and Cincinnati finished ranked #17.
|Year||Conference Champion||Conference Record||Bowl Coalition/Alliance/BCS Bowl Representative|
|1991||Miami / Syracuse*||2–0–0 / 5–0–0||none|
|1993||West Virginia||7–0–0||West Virginia|
|1995||Virginia Tech / Miami||6–1–0||Virginia Tech|
|1996||Virginia Tech / Miami / Syracuse||6–1||Virginia Tech|
|1999||Virginia Tech||7–0||Virginia Tech|
|2003||Miami / West Virginia||6–1||Miami|
|2004||Boston College / Pittsburgh / Syracuse / West Virginia||4–2||Pittsburgh|
|2005||West Virginia||7–0||West Virginia|
|2007||West Virginia / Connecticut||5–2||West Virginia|
|2010||Connecticut / West Virginia / Pittsburgh||5–2||Connecticut|
|2011||West Virginia / Cincinnati / Louisville||5–2||West Virginia|
|2012||Louisville / Rutgers / Syracuse / Cincinnati||5–2||Louisville|
- No official championship awarded in 1991 and 1992, as the conference did not start full league play until 1993.
|Pick||Name||Location||Opposing Conference||Opposing Pick|
|1||Bowl Championship Series†||-||BCS At-Large||-|
|2||Russell Athletic Bowl||Orlando, Florida||ACC||3|
|3||Belk Bowl||Charlotte, North Carolina||ACC||5|
|4||New Era Pinstripe Bowl||Bronx, New York||Big 12||7|
|5/6||BBVA Compass Bowl||Birmingham, Alabama||SEC||8/9|
|5/6||AutoZone Liberty Bowl||Memphis, Tennessee||C-USA or SEC||1 or 8/9|
|6||Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl||St. Petersburg, Florida||C-USA||4|
- Notes on bowl game selection
- † The Big East's BCS representative is not tied directly to a specific BCS Bowl. It is selected to a bowl in the same manner as an at-large team. The BCS may choose select a second team to play in another BCS bowl game.
- Notre Dame is eligible to be chosen in lieu of a Big East team for any non-BCS bowl game. In a separate rule specific only to Notre Dame that doesn't affect the Big East's BCS representative, Notre Dame is eligible to receive a BCS automatic berth if they finish within the top 8 of the BCS Rankings.