Houston will play in the 'Big East West'

Thomas B. Shea

The Cougars will see lots of familiar faces in their new conference.

The new look Big East announced how it will split up its 12 schools on Tuesday, putting the University of Houston in the Big East West Division.

For a Cougars football program with dreams of national relevance, the headline is an annual date with Boise State, as none of the other schools in their division – SMU, Memphis, San Diego State and Temple – have had much football success in recent years.

Most of the existing Big East schools will be in the appropriately named East Division – Central and South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Louisville and UConn.

And while the "automatic qualifier" designation will no longer exist, the highest-rated team of the other "non contract bowl" conferences (Big East, Mountain West, C-USA, MAC and Sun Belt) will be in a BCS bowl, which should give a huge leg-up to the Big East champion, since they'll be facing a comparatively more difficult conference schedule.

Th Cougar basketball program, meanwhile, will benefit from playing the big-name schools in the East every year, even if they won't be coming to Houston as much as fans may have wanted.

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